NYFA Alum Masali Baduza Stars in Surprise ‘Bridgerton’ Role

June 17, 2024

The newest member of the ‘ton? NYFA AFA in Acting for Film alum Masali Baduza! The actress, originally from South Africa, appeared in season three, part two of the show on Netflix. The reveal is a surprise for another big reason, as it’s a departure from the show’s source material.

(Warning, spoilers ahead!)

Masali Baduza in Bridgerton. Image via Digital Spy.

Masali plays the love interest of Francesca Bridgerton, Michaela Stirling, John (Francesca’s about to be husband’s) cousin. In the books by Julia Quinn, John’s cousin was Michael Stirling. Fans know that after John’s untimely death, Francesca Bridgerton ends up with Michael, hinting at Michaela’s (and Baduza’s) importance in the show. 

“When I read her book, I, as a queer woman, really related to her book,” said showrunner Jess Brownell in an interview with Deadline. “Maybe in a way Julia Quinn didn’t intend, but a lot of Francesca’s book is about feeling different from her family and from the world around her and not really knowing why. In the book, I think it’s mostly just about being introverted. But I think for a lot of queer people, not every queer person, but a lot of queer people, that sense of feeling different from the time you’re young, is part of our stories. So it felt like a natural one to gender bend.”

NYFA Alum Masali Baduza’s New Role Brings LGBTQ+ Representation to the ‘ton

Baduza’s role in Bridgerton brings vital representation to the massively popular Netflix series just in time for Pride Month. It’s no surprise that the series, which is known for casting actors of color in prominent leading roles, would choose to showcase an LGBTQ+ relationship. In an interview with People magazine, Baduza’s Bridgerton co-star Simone Ashley, who plays newly married Kate Bridgerton, gave Baduza the following advice:

“I think to be just deeply proud about what you’re representing, and [know] that many people are going to be so seen by the story that you’re going to be telling,” said Ashley. “And that we’re all here with open arms and so excited.”

Masali Baduza Dazzeles in Noughts + Crosses and The Woman King

After graduating from NYFA Los Angeles in 2016, Baduza went on to appear in films such as Bhai’s Cafe, The Fighter, and two episodes of the TV series Trackers. She’s best known for her role in the popular BBC drama series Noughts + Crosses and also starred in a remake of the 1982 slasher film Slumber Party Massacre, the short film Let’s Do This Again Sometime (2021), as well as the 2021 TV adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days, starring David Tennant.  

Masali Baduza as Michaela Stirling.

In 2022, she co-starred alongside Oscar-, Emmy-, and two-time Tony Award-winning actress Viola Davis in The Woman King as Fumbe. The film is based on true events and tells the story of an all-female warrior unit in the 17th and 19th centuries that defended the West African kingdom of Dahomey.

The film, which was directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, was filmed in South Africa and recruited people of color and women for the cast and crew.

Develop Your Acting Skills and Reel at NYFA

Masali Baduza is one of many NYFA alums using their skills and experience to pursue their passion for performance. At NYFA, students learn through hands-on experience and projects, developing and honing their natural talent to build a foundation of vital performance and audition techniques. Ready to learn more about our acting programs? Get more information today!