sexual assault

Michaela Coel Says She Was Sexually Assaulted When She Worked on Chewing Gum

Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

During a lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, actress, writer, and producer Michaela Coel revealed that she was sexually assaulted during the writing of her British comedy Chewing Gum. “I was working overnight in the company’s offices; I had an episode due at 7 a.m.,” Coel told the audience, speaking about her producers at Retort, which is owned by FreemantleMedia. She described blacking out and coming to consciousness hours later as she worked on the episode. “I took a break and had a drink with a good friend who was nearby. I emerged into consciousness typing season two, many hours later. I was lucky. I had a flashback. It turned out I’d been sexually assaulted by strangers. The first people I called after the police, before my own family, were the producers.”

Coel said she wasn’t assaulted within the production company’s offices, or by an employee. The producers ultimately sent Coel to a private clinic and funded her therapy until the end of the shoot. She also described their anxiety over her assault: “Overnight, I saw them morph into an anxious team of employers and employees alike; teetering back and forth between the line of knowing what normal human empathy is and not knowing what empathy is at all,” she said. “When there are police involved, and footage, of people carrying your sleeping writer into dangerous places, when cuts are found, when there’s blood … what is your job?”

Michaela Coel Says She Was Sexually Assaulted