Born to two Ghanaian immigrants in London, Michaela Coel's given name was Michaela Boakye-Collinson. Brought up a strict Pentecostal, Coel attended an all-girls school and studied English and Theology before abandoning university in favor of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where she refined her voice for poetry, comedy and drama. Her senior project at Guildhall was "Chewing Gum Diaries" a semi-autobiographical one-woman show that Coel wrote and starred in, playing multiple characters. She expanded the project into a feature length play and performed it at a number of theatres, including the National Theater, to positive reviews. Coel was then tasked with turning the play into a TV series, which premiered in 2015 as "Chewing Gum" (E4, 2015-17). The show was a success and earned Coel a BAFTA award for Best Female Comedy Performance in 2016, as well as the BAFTA Breakthrough Talent award for her writing. The show returned for a second season in 2017, the same year that Coel made a small appearance in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" (2017), as well as a standout performance on the memorable "Black Mirror" (Channel 4, 2011-2014; Netflix 2016-) episode entitled "USS Callister." In 2018, she starred in the high profile series "Black Earth Rising" (BBC, 2018-).