Michaela Coel isn’t about to give away the rights to her creation.
In a candid interview with Vulture, the “I May Destroy You” creator opened up about her life, career and how her HBO show almost had a home at Netflix.
As Coel explained, Netflix offered her a $1 million deal to produce the series for the streaming service, but she turned them down when she learned that Netflix would retain 100 per cent of the copyright.
She later fired her agency in the U.S., who had pushed her to take the deal.
It came to a head when Coel proposed to a senior-level Netflix executive that she get just 5 per cent of the copyright.
“There was just silence on the phone,” she recalled. “And she said, ‘It’s not how we do things here. Nobody does that, it’s not a big deal.’ I said, ‘If it’s not a big deal, then I’d really like to have 5 per cent of my rights.’ ”
After bargaining down to 0.5 per cent, the executive said she would have to run it up to higher level executives.
“Michaela? I just want you to know I’m really proud of you. You’re doing the right thing,” she told Coel.
“I remember thinking, ‘I’ve been going down rabbit holes in my head, like people thinking I’m paranoid, I’m acting sketchy, I’m killing off all my agents,’” Coel said. “And then she said those words to me, and I finally realized — ‘I’m not crazy. This is crazy.’”
Eventually she successfully pitched the show to the BBC, who allowed her full creative control, along with a co-production deal with HBO.
“I’d been so untrustworthy of the industry that I looked at the email and I thought, ‘I need a day.’ I wasn’t happy,” she said. After taking time to think about it, she accepted the deal. “It’s an amazing email.”