When she first began pitching the concept for I May Destroy You in spring 2017, Netflix offered her $1 million upfront — $1 million! But when she learned they wouldn’t allow her to retain any percentage of the copyright, she said no. No amount was worth that. She fired CAA, her agency in the U.S., too, when it tried to push her to take the deal after she learned it would be making an undisclosed amount on the back end. Throughout the fallout with Netflix and CAA, Coel asked questions relentlessly. She is eager, almost giddy, to say she doesn’t know something (even if she may have an inkling) because of the way it forces someone else to explain it to her. She has discovered that the explanation is where people begin to falter and the fissures of conventional wisdom crack wider. It may be business as usual, but is it right? Is it good?
Mr. A and I have been madly in love with her since Chewing Gum, which is funny and scary and wild and as true about being a teenage girl as anything I’ve ever seen, and Black Earth Rising was extraordinary for the coiled stillness of her performance, the way she made it plain people carry their histories in the body, in the blood. Those are both on Netflix and I May Destroy You is on HBO and I just started watching it. It’s weird and unsettling and fantastic.
ps. One of my most cherished opinions is that John Goodman should have as many Academy Awards as Daniel Day-Lewis does and he’s also amazing in Black Earth Rising, and sexy as hell.