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Masali Baduza Joins ‘Bridgerton’ as [Spoiler’s] Gender-Swapped Cousin Michaela: What to Know

Masali Baduza Makes Her Bridgerton Debut in Season 3
Masali BaduzaUnique Nicole/Getty Images

Bridgerton welcomed a new star to the ton in South African actress Masali Baduza.

Baduza, 28, made a brief cameo in the season 3 finale, which dropped on Netflix on Thursday, June 13. In one of the final moments of the episode, John Stirling (Victor Alli) and Francesca Bridgerton (Hannah Dodd) are greeted by his cousin Michaela (Baduza) upon their recent nuptials.

“I caution you. Every sordid detail John has spoken about me is a lie,” Michaela teased after John introduced his relative. “The truth is far worse.”

Michaela Stirling appears to be a gender-swapped version of Michael Stirling, who is Francesca’s love interest from Julia Quinn’s book When He Was Wicked. Alli previously teased the arrival of John’s cousin in an exclusive interview with Us Weekly last month.

Penelope and Colins Steamiest Bridgerton Season 3 Moments

Related: Which 'Bridgerton' Couples Ended Up Together in the Books?

“It’ll be nice to sort of see that dynamic with his family and his wife,” Alli told Us of what future seasons of Bridgerton will look like for the Stirling clan. “It’d be really interesting to see the journey with them both in the upcoming season. The writers are incredible, so I put my faith and my trust that they’ll do something incredible.”

Keep scrolling to learn more about Baduza — and her Bridgerton character:

What Else Has Masali Baduza Acted In Before ‘Bridgerton’ Season 3?

Baduza is best known for a guest-starring role in Trackers and featured performances in Around the World in 80 Days, Noughts + Crosses and The Woman King.

Masali Baduza Makes Her Bridgerton Debut in Season 3 05
Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

Masali Baduza Grew Up in South Africa After Apartheid Ended

Apartheid, an institutionalized system of racial segregation, ended in the early 1990s, but several of its lingering discriminatory rules remained. (Baduza was born shortly after the system legally ended.)

“We had a rule book of things we could and couldn’t do to our hair — including one that said Black girls couldn’t wear their natural afros because it was unprofessional and it looked unkempt,” Baduza recalled to The Independent in March 2020. “We had to style our hair into something that was more acceptable. You know, having that as your mindset as a young Black girl is just … traumatizing. It’s kind of like who you are naturally is not good enough.”

How Is Bridgerton Season 3 Different From Novel Inspiration

Related: How Is 'Bridgerton' Season 3 Different From Novel Inspiration?

Masali Baduza Has Clear Goals for Her Acting Career

Baduza studied acting at the New York Film Academy after graduating from high school. In a March 2020 interview with the Royal Television Society, she said she would “love to do it all” in terms of booking certain types of jobs.

“I think moving forward I’d like to tell stories that comment on society and on injustices, but having said that I would also love to play a character in a story where race isn’t a factor,” Baduza said. “Where it can be a Black couple who are living and the fact that they are Black doesn’t have anything to do with the story.”

Masali Baduza Makes Her Bridgerton Debut in Season 3 02
Netflix

How Did Masali Baduza Make Her ‘Bridgerton’ Debut?

Baduza’s Michaela only appeared in one episode of season 3, joining Francesca and her family to celebrate the debutante’s wedding to John. Francesca appeared to get flustered in Michaela’s presence.

Who Is Michaela Sterling in the ‘Bridgerton’ Books?

There is no Michaela in the Bridgerton book universe, but there is a Michael. According to literary canon, Francesca and Michael first met on the eve of her wedding to John, and he went on to harbor a secret crush. When He Was Wicked, the sixth book in Quinn’s series, follows Francesca’s life as a young widow after John dies of an aneurysm. Michael inherits John’s earldom upon his passing.

Bridgerton season 3 is currently streaming on Netflix.

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