‘The Circle’: What is Michelle Buteau’s Ethnicity?
Netflix‘s hit series The Circle has entertained audiences everywhere, thanks in part to the commentary of host Michelle Buteau. The longtime comedian adds to the often-hilarious antics of the Circle players with her own one-liners, often delivered with a signature terseness that is both playful and painful.
Michelle Buteau’s career before ‘The Circle’
Buteau got her start in comedy in her hometown of New York just a few days after the September 11 attacks. She continued to perform stand-up around the city for five years before she landed her first television gig on Comedy Central.
“When that happened, I felt like I became part of this club where the industry wanted to hire me,” she told The Cut in 2019. “It took a good four or five years of doing this thing that I love to do, and having no idea where it would go and whether it could make me money.”
In the 2010s, Buteau began to take her talents to the screen, appearing in several popular shows such as Key and Peele, Russian Doll, and Tales of the City. She also made cameos in several romcoms such as Something Great and Always Be My Maybe.
Michelle Buteau hosts ‘The Circle’
When the US version of The Circle premiered on Netflix in 2020, Buteau felt like a natural fit to host the show. She doesn’t appear much on screen other than in the season premiere and finale, but it can be easy to tell what her face looks like when she comments on what a contestant does or says in their Circle apartment.
In a promotional post on Instagram before the first season aired, the official Circle account accurately described Buteau as the “host with the very best roasts.”
Michelle Buteau’s race was a problem for doctors
In January 2019, Buteau achieved another lifelong dream by welcoming twins with her husband, Dutch photographer Gijs van der Most. Buteau has been public about her struggle with infertility, and she revealed on the podcast Infertile AF that being a Black woman has made her even more afraid of healthcare and medical systems in general.
“To be a Black woman or any ethnic woman, and going to a hospital, there’s always this thing where people think you have an attitude because you question them,” she said. She admitted that after her first miscarriage, when she questioned something the doctor said, he told her, “I don’t like your tone.”
“It’s horrifying for a Black woman to give birth in a hospital because nobody believes her,” she added.
Buteau was born in New Jersey to a Haitian father of Lebanese descent and a Jamaican mother of French descent. Both Haiti and Jamaica are majority Black countries with long histories of colonization and diaspora.
In 2021, Buteau spoke with fellow Black female comedians London Hughes and Sam Jay for Variety as they elaborated on their individual experiences. “No one’s ever like, ‘Are you going to be the Black Tina Fey?'” Buteau said honestly. “No one ever says that! It’s just like, ‘We have this role; can you say these four lines with a lot of energy?'”