"One line but I loved it because it's Star Wars, and John Boyega's bloody lovely."
―Michaela Coel[src]

Michaela Coel (born October 1, 1987) is a British actress actress who portrayed a Resistance monitor in Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi.[1] She is best known for playing the lead role in the British sitcom series Chewing Gum, which she also created and wrote.


Early lifeEdit

Michaela Coel was born as Michaela Ewuraba Boakye-Collinson in London on 1 October 1987. Her parents were Ghanaian. She and her older sister grew up in London, primarily Hackney and Tower Hamlets, with her mother; her parents had split before her birth. She attended Catholic schools in East London, and has said that her isolation as the only black pupil in her age cohort at primary school caused her to bully other pupils. The isolation did not continue into her secondary education at a comprehensive school.

From 2007 to 2009, Coel attended Birmingham University to study English Literature and Theology. She took a Ché Walker masterclass at RADA after meeting Walker at open mics. In 2009, she transferred to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where she was the first black woman enrolled in five years. She won the Laurence Olivier Bursary award, which helped her fund her schooling. During her time at Guildhall, she attended the Mark Proulx workshop at Prima del Teatro and took the Kat Francois Poetry Course at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. She graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2012.


In 2006, Coel began performing in poetry open mics in Ealing. As she continued to do open mics, she was encouraged by the actor, playwright, and director Ché Walker, who saw her perform at Hackney Empire, to apply to Guildhall. As a poet she has performed on stages including Wembley Arena, Bush Theatre, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and Rotterdam De Doelen Concert Hall. She went by the name, Michaela The Poet.

In 2009, Coel joined the Talawa Theatre Company summer school program called TYPT. During her time at Talawa she was in the TYPT 2009 production of Krunch, directed by Amani Naphtali. In 2009, Coel released an album entitled Fixing Barbie, which featured her work as a poet and musician. In 2011, Coel released the record "We're the Losers".

In 2012, Coel's play, Chewing Gum Dreams, was her senior / graduation project at Guildhall. It was first produced at The Yard Theatre in Hackney Wick in 2012. The play featured Coel in a one-woman show telling the dramatic story of a 14-year-old girl named Tracey. The play then went on to be produced by the Bush Theatre (2012), Royal Theatre Holland (2012), Royal Exchange Theatre (2013), and the National Theatre (2014).

Coel appeared in the Channel 4 drama Top Boy and had leading roles at the National Theatre, including the award-nominated Home and the critically acclaimed Medea at the Olivier Theatre.

In August 2014, Channel 4 announced that Coel was to star in and write a new sitcom called Chewing Gum, inspired by her play Chewing Gum Dreams. "C4 Comedy Blaps" were released as teasers in September 2014, and the series began on E4 in October 2015. Her performance earned her the British Academy Television Award for Best Female Comedy Performance in 2016; she also won a BAFTA for Breakthrough Talent for writing the show. Chewing Gum received overwhelmingly positive reviews.

In 2015, Coel also guest-starred in the BBC One drama London Spy. In 2016, she starred in the E4 sci-fi comedy-drama The Aliens, which was shot in Bulgaria. She portrays the character, Lilyhot.

Chewing Gum returned for a second season in January 2017. She also appeared in the "Nosedive" and "USS Callister" episodes of Charlie Brooker's series Black Mirror. She also had a small role in the 2017 film Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi.

In 2018 Coel starred in Black Earth Rising, a co-production between BBC Two and Netflix, where she played Kate, the main character.

Personal lifeEdit

For the 2016 BAFTA Awards, Coel wore a dress made out of Kente cloth which was made by her mother. She has said that, like her Chewing Gum character Tracey, she became very religious in the Pentecostal faith, and embraced celibacy. Although she still considers herself a Christian, Coel stopped practicing Pentecostalism after attending Guildhall.

She publicly identifies as aromantic.

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. Robinson, Joanna (December 17, 2017). 32 Delightful Star Wars: The Last Jedi Cameos You Might Have Missed. Vanity Fair. Retrieved on January 21, 2018. "Chewing Gum star Michaela Coel was reluctant to call her Last Jedi appearance a cameo. She told Complex earlier this year: "I'm so serious. It’s literally, I [sit] on the spaceship and I say three words. And they probably didn't even make the movie." They did! Coel appears as a Resistance monitor who declares “they found us” early on in the film."

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