Chewing Gum star Michaela Coel has said she is “overjoyed” to deliver the 2018 James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture.
The prestigious lecture is the centrepiece of the Edinburgh TV Festival, with previous speakers including Dennis Potter, Ted Turner, Elisabeth Murdoch, Shane Smith, Armando Iannucci and Jon Snow.
“I am overjoyed to accept this invitation; it seems in some way a celebration of the rapidly changing world we live in,” Coel said in a statement.
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“But with the constant reshaping of our technological and political world comes a growing need to shine a light and be vigilant rather than complacent about the future of our industry. I feel honoured to contribute to this debate on such a prestigious stage.”
The actress, screenwriter, singer, songwriter, poet and playwright began her career on stage and screen in 2006.
But it was her 2015 Channel 4 sitcom, Chewing Gum, which brought her to widespread attention. The comedy stars Coel as a Beyonce-obsessed, religious 24-year-old called Tracey Gordon and is based on the play she wrote as her graduation project from Guildhall.
Chewing Gum quickly gained critical acclaim and a whole heap of awards. Her performance earned her two Royal Television Society Awards, as well as Baftas for Best Female Performance in a Comedy Programme and for Breakthrough Talent.
Festival Director Lisa Campbell said in a statement: “Michaela is a hugely inspiring figure who has achieved so much in such a short time. With her distinctive voice, attitude and ambition this promises to be a ground-breaking and enlivening speech that will offer a completely different perspective. Our Talent Schemes delegates voted her as the person who has most inspired them to work in television, and like them, I can’t wait to hear the passionate and agenda-setting speech she’s set to deliver.”
“Michaela embodies everything we want the festival to be about this year,” the festival’s Advisory Chair Phil Edgar Jones – who is also director of Sky Arts – added. “The future, the creative voice and, above all, optimism.
“As one of the UK’s leading young writer-performers, Michaela speaks directly to the next generation of talent coming through the ranks and has something to teach the TV ‘establishment’ too. We are thrilled she’ll be delivering the MacTaggart and I am very much looking forward to hearing her unique take on the industry and beyond.”