British-Ghanaian actress, Michaela Coel creates RnB musical, titled “Been So Long” 

by Rachel Ogbu//

British-Ghanaian award-winning actress Michaela Coel, 29, is preparing for the release of her new project, a musical film titled “Been So Long” which combines R&B and neo-soul sounds.

After creating the successful TV series ‘Chewing Gum’ now in its 2nd season on Netflix, Coel’s new black love story based in Camden features her as a single mother named Simone who meets a man named Raymond (Arinzé Kene) while on a night out. The musical tackles the issue of rapid gentrification in London and has been described as “spirited and lively” and distinctively British by

“Been So Long” is a “refreshing new musical, exploring desire and ambition from a female perspective,” says Fabien Westerhoff, CEO of Film Constellation. Coel speaks to Fader on her new film which was originally written by Ché Walker for the stage. “I’m not really a children person,” she says with a laugh. “But I’m learning to bond with them. And I haven’t done any singing for a while — I’m quite shy about that.”

Chewing Gum was her breakout move! It is a comedy series focused on Michaela Coel’s character Tracey who is on a mission to lose her virginity against the wishes of her evangelical Christian family. In 2016, she won the BAFTA for Best Female Performance In A Comedy Programme and Breakthrough Talent for the TV show.

On tackling the issue of racism in her comedy, Coel tells Fader, “I think the foundations of racism are ridiculous. I also do know that racism comes with a lot of pain, violence, murder, rape, slavery — and those [issues] are covered by people that don’t write comedy. But I’m writing comedy and so I like to be able to tackle issues in the medium in which I’m being paid, which I think is possible. It was nice to see a lot of black women and a lot of black gay guys could identify with that [situation] so much. They could see it from [Tracey and Ash’s] first scene, ’cause we’ve all been through it. I think it’s important to create an awareness that sometimes we are fetishised by people. It creates a dialogue.”

Michaela Coel has appeared in the Channel 4 drama Top Boy and  E4 sci-fi comedy-drama The Aliens. She won the Theatre Royal Stratford East Poetry Slam in 2008, 2009 and 2010. In 2016 she won two BAFTAs and two Royal Television Society, RTS Programme Awards. She was also awarded a prestigious Laurence Olivier Bursary to help fund her final year at drama school.

Michaela Coel

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