That’s it. Michaela Coel is the most badass person on the planet. I decided this the moment I saw her exquisite photo for Variety, which was part of the magazine’s ‘Power of Women in Comedy’ feature.
The picture took my breath away, and not only because Coel was wearing a Kente cloth in a photo of a leading entertainment magazine. Let’s take a moment to break the outfit down. First, the Kente; this handwoven cloth was traditionally worn by royalty. That paired with the halo-style crown on her head sends an unmistakable message about power and regality. Now, scan your eyes down to her hand. See the rings on her hand? I think she’s wearing five, but I see two clearly. One of them has a heart-shape, the other has a comb. Know what they represent? Well, (using my best-worst loud Ghanaian uncle voice) If you don’t know, the heart-shaped Adinkra sign is Sankofa – ‘learn from the past’. The comb is Duame, ‘Beauty.’
Ohemaa (queen), I see you!
Michaela Coel, in this picture alone is, to quote Audre Lorde, ‘deliberate and afraid of nothing.’ Shout out to the sista Sharon Brooks for recalling the quote. Look at how Michaela is looking at us. There’s no challenge. She just is.
This beautiful and intentional reminder is peak Michaela Coel. She’ll say something, even if it scares her. She’s SO honest. She consistently pours her heart and vulnerability into her work.
She’ll act it out for us, cry at it with us, and let us laugh at it – or her. I still cringe/laugh at the scene in “Chewing Gum” where Tracey dressed up in ‘tribal’ clothes for her lover. I still miss Arabella, Terry and Kwame from “I Will Destroy You.” She makes herself so vulnerable, I’m not surprised she struggles to watch her work, as she told Variety:
“Generally when projects come out, my habit is to run away to a country where it isn’t airing, because I think I struggle with that bit of things, so I tend to go somewhere to hide a little bit,” she laughs. “The nice thing about lockdown was that we were all forced to hide, so it meant that I never felt the scale [of the response], which I think may possibly have given me anxiety.”
But she keeps on doing it anyway. This is where her beauty and power lie – and it’s a lesson for all of us. That truth is what I see in that picture. Honesty, beauty and courage. And I say we take a leaf out of her book as we bask in the light, the light reflecting off her gorgeous cheekbones.