Misfits: A Personal Manifesto by Michaela Coel – Book Review

Misfits: A Personal Manifesto is a brilliant read that has the friendly, witty tone of your good friend updating you about what they’ve been up to, while conveying a thought-provoking message too. This memoir is Michaela Coel’s thoughts on her life so far and how she sees her place in her industry.

The MacTaggart Lecture

In 2018, Michaela was invited to do the MacTaggart lecture (watch her here) – the centrepiece of the Edinburgh TV Festival. The lecture is prestigious, known for being a key platform to talk to big industry players, it was a huge moment in Michaela’s life.

Misfits shares the ideas Michaela worked through while developing her lecture and how she felt in the aftermath, it’s so interesting to read.

She also explores her emotions, how she became more comfortable sharing them and talks about her personal trauma that she used to create her award-winning show, I May Destroy You. I watched I May Destroy You in lockdown and was blown away by it. Written by and starring Michaela Coel, it is based on her personal experience of sexual assault.

Like any other experience I’ve found traumatic, it’s been therapeutic to write about it, and actively twist a narrative of pain into one of hope, and even humour.

Long live the misfit

As the title suggests, the overarching message is what it is to be a misfit. A person who views things differently, or someone who don’t fit in with the majority. Being a Black woman and working in the TV industry and wanting to keep creative control of her work, Michaela found there were a lot of points she felt she wasn’t fitting in; if she didn’t speak up, no one would do that for her, and nothing would change.

Misfits often conform to keep the peace and progress along the well-trodden paths, but this book is a call to stop doing that and be true to yourself.

An empowering read

What a brilliant thing, to discover we’ve been wrong about some things, what a brilliant thing it is to grow.

It is such a positive, empowering message that Misfits ends on: Don’t be afraid to question the status-quo. Just because something is done a certain way, it doesn’t mean it’s the right way. It takes courage to speak up – and Michaela reminds us all that sometimes, it has to be done, to potentially facilitate change and for your own sense of self and growth.

If you like the sound of Misfits, you might also enjoy We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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