One area in which Coel went out of her way to make Opia feel safe? The scene in which Terry has a threesome while visiting Arabella in Ostia, Italy. Opia planned to turn down the role – her dream part – if any form of nudity was required. Under other circumstances, that might have lost her the job. On a set run by Coel, it meant that Opia was not only provided with a body double, but that the programme’s intimacy coordinator, Ita O’Brien, kept Opia abreast of the plans for every shot to make sure that she felt happy with the way the scene would appear on film.
Notably, Coel also had dedicated counsellors on hand throughout filming in case either talent or crew members struggled with the more graphic material – and it’s no accident that Terry’s decision to institute a veritable self-care regime for Arabella post-assault is a major plot point in the series. “It’s definitely becoming clearer right now what a vacuum there is in terms of support for Black mental health,” Opia says, nodding to the experiences of the Black community following the death of George Floyd. “As a generation, we’re more conscious of how important mental health really is – not just in terms of what’s happening in our own lives, but in terms of the residual effects of the past as well. We’re only just starting to realise how much we’ve internalised the mistreatment of Black people from so far back.”
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