MICHAELA Coel, the celebrated creator and star behind I May Destroy You has revealed why she turned down a $1million Netflix deal.
The show’s creator and actress, 33, was approached by the pay-for online streaming service in 2017, when they enticed her with a £800k ($1million) agreement to have the series which takes a frank look at sexual assault, on its platform.
Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You has been hailed as one of the best TV shows of 2020Credit: BBC
Generally, Netflix buys all the rights to a show – including intellectual property (IP) when it acquires a title, which leaves the content makers without any authority.
But in a frank and at times emotional chat with comedian and her friend, Reggie Yates, Coel revealed her reasoning for turning down the lucrative deal.
Speaking at a socially distanced event at London’s Union Chapel for GQ Magazine’s GQ Heroes 2020 series, Coel said she could never give up the IP for this show.
Coel opened up about why she turned down a $1million dollar offer from Netflix Credit: YouTube
She told Reggie Yates that she would not give up the IP on a show that ‘required so much’ from herCredit: YouTube
They chatted in London’s Union Chapel as part of GQ’s Heroes 2020 seriesCredit: YouTube
She said I May Destroy You “was so specific and required so much” from her as a creator and actor, as she called out the “ethics of just taking everything”.
“I think sharing IP is one thing, but some of our industry is quite exploitative in that it wants all of the IP from the artist and if the artist is generating the idea, I just don’t think that’s fair. I think it’s so dodgy,” Coel explained.
“It’s like, we will take it, because we’re looking for scraps, anything, because it’s hard. But the ethics of just taking everything.”
The Chewing Gum creator compared the experience to how streaming giants “buy all the rights” when acquiring music for a series.
Coel turned down Netflix after she realised she would have to sign over the copyright for the showCredit: BBC
“For artists, especially working class artists, I don’t think one big cheque is helpful,” Coel said.
“I think a steady cheque, like they’re going to be making from your music, is much more helpful. I think it’s not looking for our longevity and it’s dangerous.”
But Coel had the last laugh, as she was able to create an authentic and universally celebrated show.
Yates said: “In I May Destroy You, this is the first time in forever that I see a London that I recognise.”
The Chewing Gum creator questioned the ‘ethics’ of streaming giants that do thatCredit: Alamy
Coel also spoke in July about how she refused Netflix’s offer when she realised she wouldn’t be paid a percentage of the copyright.
She then fired the US-based Creative Artists Agency, who were working for her Stateside, after they pushed her to accept so they could take a cut.
Coel told Vulture how the tricky negotiation played out and said: “There was just silence on the phone. And she said, ‘It’s not how we do things here. Nobody does that, it’s not a big deal’.”
Michaela added: ‘I said, “If it’s not a big deal, then I’d really like to have 5 per cent of my rights.”
The star also fired her US agents for pushing her to take the Netflix dealCredit: YouTube
But she got the last laugh as I May Destroy You went on to be a critical and commercial successCredit: BBC
Backing down, the scriptwriter even compromised to 0.5 per cent of the copyright.
Michaela played Arabella, a writer who is sexually assaulted in an experience based on real life, as well as penning the gritty show.
The star has also told how the BBC ‘let her do anything’ on the groundbreaking show including tackling the taboo of periods.
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