Michaela Coel may not have been speaking directly about mental health in her Emmy award speech that’s captured the world’s attention, but she did offer insight into ways we can bring more wellness into our lives.
The 33-year-old British actress won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for her show ‘I May Destroy You’ during Sunday’s awards ceremony.
In her now widely-shared acceptance speech, Coel challenged writers to, “Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn’t comfortable. I dare you.”
The beauty of her invitation - her dare - is that it calls all of us whether we are writers or actors or not, to pay attention to the truth inside and let go of the noise around us. It asks us to distance ourselves from “the need to be constantly visible (because) visibility, these days, seems to equate to success.”
Instead Coel advises people to “not be afraid to disappear from it, from us, for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence.”
She said, “In a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves, and to, in turn, feel the need to be constantly visible - for visibility, these days seems to equate to success - do not be afraid to disappear from it, from us, for a while, and see what comes to you in the silence.”
It’s a simple shift, from outer noise to inner quiet, but the benefits are profound in refocusing to hear and share our unique story, our authentic self.
It may be our difficult stories that we hear first. Coel’s own work writing ‘I May Destroy You’ comes from her personal experience being sexually assaulted. In her acceptance speech, she dedicated her award and work to other survivors of sexual assault.
But there’s also power in being heard.
As Coel told an interviewer on awards night, “It means a lot to be heard and listened so attentively.”