Michaela Coel

Last updated on the 19 April 2024 by Maeve

Michaela Coel headshot

Mini Biography

Born: 1 October 1987, London, England. 

Michaela Coel is a British actress, filmmaker and poet. She has made significant contributions to the entertainment industry, both in front of and behind the camera.

Michaela was born in East London to Ghanaian parents. She and her sister were raised by their mother primarily in Hackney and Tower Hamlets. During her primary school years, she experienced isolation as the only black pupil in her age group , which led to her bullying other students. However, this isolation did not persist during her secondary education at a comprehensive school. Michaela attended Catholic schools in East London before pursuing higher education.

In 2006, Michaela began performing at poetry open mics in Ealing. Her talent caught the attention of actor, playwright and director Ché Walker, who encouraged her to apply to Guildhall.

From 2007 to 2009, Michaela studied English Literature and Theology at the University of Birmingham. She then transferred to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where she became the first black woman enrolled in five years. There, she won the Laurence Olivier Bursary Award, which helped fund her education. During her time at Guildhall, she also attended various workshops and poetry courses, further developing her artistic skills. Cole graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2012.

As a poet, she has performed at venues like Wembley Arena, Bush Theatre, Nuyorican Poets Cafe and De Doelen, Rotterdam.

Michaela Coel’s breakthrough came with the creation and starring role in the E4 sitcom “Chewing Gum” (2015–2017), for which she won the BAFTA Award for Best Female Comedy Performance.

She continued her success with the BBC One/HBO comedy-drama series “I May Destroy You” (2020), where she not only acted but also wrote and produced. For her work on this series, she became the first black woman to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards.

In summary, Michaela Coel’s journey from poetry open mics to award-winning television series showcases her immense talent, resilience and commitment to storytelling. Her impact on the industry extends beyond her roles, as she fearlessly pushes boundaries and represents diversity and excellence in entertainment.


BAFTA award

WINNER |  Television: Leading Actress, Television Craft: Director: Fiction, Television Craft: Writer, Television: Female Performance In A Comedy Programme, Television Craft: Breakthrough Talent for Chewing Gum (2016)



Suggested viewing


Chewing Gum (2015)

Chewing Gum poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.7

“Chewing Gum” is a TV series that humorously chronicles the life of Tracey, a 22-year-old with a penchant for Beyoncé, living in a Tower Hamlets estate. The show looks into her neighbourhood’s mishaps, her quirky friends, and her family, all while engaging the complexities of relationships, including her boyfriend.

Top cast: Michaela Coel, Danielle Walters, Robert Lonsdale, Shola Adewusi, Susan Wokoma, Maggie Steed, Kadiff Kirwan, Olisa Odele.


I May Destroy You (2020)

I May Destroy You poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.1

“I May Destroy You” is a dark comedy-drama limited series that follows Arabella, a young writer in the public eye. After a harrowing night in which she is drugged and raped, Arabella grapples with the aftermath, reevaluating her life, career and relationships. The show examines the trauma and its far-reaching effects, offering a sharp and unflinching portrayal of a woman seeking to rebuild herself.

Top cast: Michaela Coel, Weruche Opia, Paapa Essiedu, Stephen Wight, Marouane Zotti, Harriet Webb, Aml Ameen, Adam James, Natalie Walter.


USS Callister (2017)

USS Callister poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.3

“USS Callister” is the first episode of the fourth series of the anthology series Black Mirror. Written by series creator Charlie Brooker and William Bridges and directed by Toby Haynes. The episode follows Robert Daly, a reclusive programmer who creates sentient digital clones of his coworkers within a Star Trek-like space adventure game, where he wields authority and mistreats them. When newly hired Nanette Cole joins the game, she leads a revolt against Daly

Top cast: Jesse Plemons, Cristin Milioti, Jimmi Simpson, Michaela Coel, Billy Magnussen, Milanka Brooks, Osy Ikhile, Paul G. Raymond.

More Black Mirror

Joe Cole Black Mirror Hang the DJ


Black Earth Rising (2018)

Black Earth Rising poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.5

The story centers on Kate Ashby, who works as a legal investigator in the law chambers of Michael Ennis. When Kate’s adoptive mother Eve takes on a case prosecuting an African militia leader, the story pulls Michael and Kate into a journey that will upend their lives forever.

Top cast: Michaela Coel, John Goodman, Noma Dumezweni, Lucian Msamati, Tyrone Huggins, Tamara Tunie, Nicholas Beveney, Treva Etienne, Malou Coindreau, Emmanuel Imani, Abena Ayivor, Adrian Schiller.


Full filmography (@Wikipedia)


Michaela Coel Gallery


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