Pushing back against the entertainment industry that too often undervalues Black talent, Michaela Coel explained to Vulture that she had to reject Netflix’s $1 million offer for her latest show, I May Destroy You.
It wasn’t the $1 million paycheck that bothered the British writer, director and actress. The problem was that the video streaming platform would not allow her to retain any percentage of her copyright to the show.
Not only did Coel walk away from the offer but she also fired her agents and the Hollywood powerhouse Creative Artists Agency after they encouraged her to accept the terms without disclosing they would be profiting on the back end.
During the negotiations, Coel was flexible. She was willing to take a mutually acceptable percentage of her copyright. She started at 5 percent. However, a Netflix senior-level development executive told her that things are not done that way at the company. Coel went all the way down to 0.5 percent.
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As is often the case, when one door closes another one opens. She pitched the show to BBC, which accepted her terms. HBO joined as a co-producer.
The series is based on Coel’s personal experience of being sexually assaulted during the making of her comedy series Chewing Gum. Netflix was the domestic distributor of that acclaimed series.