The actor, writer and creator of I May Destroy You, has written a manifesto, Misfits, in praise of being an outlier. Here she answers questions from famous fans and Observer readers
Michaela Coel has one enormous eye, looming at me like a cyclops. She’s deliberately pushing different parts of her face at her laptop camera – “Boom!” – trying to make me laugh (it works). The award-winning Coel has been laying low since the genre-shattering TV series I May Destroy You came out during lockdown last year. Having admitted that she wanted to run away when it came out – “I struggle with that bit… I tend to go somewhere to hide” – she’s come off social media, stopped giving interviews for a little while. But in person, laying low is not Coel’s style.
She’s a communicator. She talks in long, descriptive sentences and even when she’s not messing with the camera, her face is always moving, her thoughts and emotions flooding her features. At formal events, she can present a serious front – face and body held still and dignified – but today she’s upbeat. Her laugh is big. Sometimes, she stops in the middle of an answer and asks herself questions, wondering out loud about whether she’s being honest enough: “Do I feel that?” she says. “Do I really feel that?”