She’s being hailed as one of the boldest and most exciting emerging talents in the TV and film world.
Feisty Michaela Coel has risen from life on a London council estate to explode on to our screens as an actress and scriptwriter.
Her powerful, critically acclaimed BBC drama I May Destroy You – about a novelist piecing her life together after being raped – has been gripping BBC viewers.
Michaela, 32, is being tipped for Hollywood fame and has even been compared to multi-talented Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller Bridge, now a James Bond scriptwriter.
And last week it emerged she had turned down a $1million offer to make I May Destroy You – based on her own experiences of sexual assault – for Netflix because the streaming giant wanted full rights to the 12-part series.
It is this headstrong, no-nonsense attitude which has caught the attention of film and TV executives across the board.
Prolific British movie producer Jonathan Sothcott, of Shogun Films, says: "Michaela is one of the most exciting, boldest voices in the UK right now.
"Her work is next-level stuff and has a remarkable truth and authenticity to it. She's set for the top in Hollywood."
So who is this remarkable woman causing such a showbiz stir? Her Ghanaian immigrant parents split before she was born and she grew up in a 1970s council estate in London's Aldgate with her sister Jasmine, 34, and mum Marion, 52, a mental health liaison officer.
It wasn't until secondary school that she met other black kids her age. Talking about her childhood, she told New York magazine: "We were just there having fun, making up songs, being stupid.
"There was a lot of like, 'So what? I don't have name-brand trainers. So what? I know my lips are big'."
The bright teenager attended Catholic schools in East London and even dropped out of university to focus on her religion for a while.
Less fervent now, she says: "Mum thought I was in a cult. It was either end up pregnant or in a council flat or… I didn't have another option."
But eventually she decided her future lay in the world of drama – and she began getting gigs as a performance poet at clubs and cafés around London, where she met playwright Ché Walker. He was struck by the wisdom and tremendous self-belief that came through in her poetry.
"She was very watchful, like she was seeing all the things you don't want anyone else to see," said Ché, who encouraged her to take acting classes.
So talented Michaela landed a place at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where she was the first black woman enrolled in five years.
The course would help propel her to stardom through her final project The Chewing Gum Dreams, about a 14-year-old girl called Tracey desperate to lose her virginity.
It later grew into a 45-minute one-woman show Chewing Gum on E4 that won her two Baftas in 2016.
But it wasn't all plain sailing at the school, where she says she encountered racism.
Michaela has claimed in one incident a teacher shouted the N-word at her – and she says she was told her vocal cords were made differently because she was black.
The Guildhall School says it "condemns racism and other forms of prejudice". And in response to the Black Lives Matter movement it has "pledged to appoint more Black teachers and teachers of colour".
Michaela recalls a humiliating exercise there where students whose families owned their houses had to go to one end of the room – and those who didn't to the other.
"I've never had a garden. My family has rented our whole lives," she says.
"You're on fragile ground as it's not yours. But it gives you a drive, an ambition, because nothing is certain.
That is a resilience no person with stability can replicate."
Her mum is still on the same estate, and Michaela now lives nearby in a three-bedroom flat she has just bought for herself. The area where she grew up has taken centre stage in her two self-written productions.
Viewers of I May Destroy You saw protagonist Arabella walking through an East End market. And in Chewing Gum, Tracey lives on a Cockney council estate.
The E4 show ended up being broadcast on Netflix, expanding her audience Stateside.
Michaela went on to star in cult series Black Mirror and 2016 E4 sci-fi series The Aliens, as well as taking the lead in musical movie Been So Long.
But it was an incident in 2016 as she took a break from drafting Chewing Gum's second season that would change her life as well as the focus of her writing for the next four years. Michaela was in a bar when her drink was spiked and she was sexually assaulted by two men after blacking out.
I May Destroy You has been a process of trying to understand what happened that night.
But it isn't the first time she has put her experience into words.
In 2018, the year she gave a powerful performance in Rwanda war crimes movie Black Earth Rising, she became the first black woman in the 42-year history of the Edinburgh TV Festival to give the keynote MacTaggart Lecture. She spoke of the injustices black people faced in the industry as well as her sexual assault.
Piers Wenger, controller of BBC drama commissioning said: "It was a ballsy thing to do." Yet it is Michaela's courage and truth-talking which is what makes her so appealing.
And which the film and TV industry so desperately needs.
I May Destroy You is on BBC iPlayer
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