Michaela Coel, currently starring in the critically acclaimed I May Destroy You, talked to NY Mag about a lot of things, including how she navigated her next project after Chewing Gum.
When she first began pitching I May Destroy You in spring 2017, Netflix offered $1 million upfront, which she rejected after finding out she wouldn't be allowed to retain any percentage of the copyright, She also fired CAA, her agency in the U.S., when they tried to push her to take the deal (they would be making an undisclosed amount on the back end for the deal). Netflix persisted and she asked a senior-level development executive if she could retain at least 5% of her rights.
“There was just silence on the phone,” Michaela explained. “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% of my rights.’ ”
The Netflix exec didn't respond and Michaela tried to bargain down to 2%, 1%, and finally 0.5%. The exec said she’d have to run it up the chain before saying, “Michaela? I just want you to know I’m really proud of you. You’re doing the right thing.” And then she hung up.
In fall 2017, she pitched the show to the BBC, and the very next day she received an offer saying she would have everything she wanted, which included full creative control, production input, and the rights to her work. After she signed on, HBO jumped on board.
The whole interview at the source is worth the read!
This is not the first time Netflix has been called out. It was revealed in 2018 that Ryan Gosling had turned down a Netflix deal when he found out the film would not have any promotion.