Bridgerton makes big change from the books with the introduction of Michaela Stirling

A new character by the name of Michaela Stirling is introduced at the very end of the third season. Who is she? Is she in the Bridgerton books? Find out here.
"Noughts and Crosses" UK Premiere - Red Carpet Arrivals
"Noughts and Crosses" UK Premiere - Red Carpet Arrivals / Jeff Spicer/GettyImages

The remaining four episodes of Bridgerton season 3 are finally streaming on Netflix, and we’re seeing tons of questions about them all over the internet. One question concerns a character named “Michaela Stirling” in the show. Viewers want to know who Michaela is. As always, we’ve got the answer. Continue reading to find out!

Spoilers ahead from Bridgerton season 3!

Michaela Stirling is a new character introduced at the very end of the Bridgerton season 3 finale. She is related to John Stirling, Francesca Bridgerton's fiancé turned husband. In the season 3 finale, Prudence and Phillipa throw a ball, and all of the ton comes out to attend. During the ball, Eloise asks Francesca if she could tag along with her to Scotland. Remember, Francesca and John plan to relocate to John's primary estate in Scotland now that they're officially wed. Just as Francesca agrees to let Eloise accompany her and John, John appears and asks them what they're talking about.

Francesca shares with him that Eloise has asked to join them on their travels. John tells her that he has no problem with her accompanying them before sharing that someone from his family will be joining them as well. That mystery person being his cousin, Michaela Stirling. Michaela appears next to John, and he introduces her to Francesca and Eloise. Now, here's when book fans' radars should go off.

Spoilers from the When He Was Wicked book ahead!

If you read book 6 in the Bridgerton book series, When He Was Wicked, which tells Francesca's love story, you'd know that John has a cousin named Michael Sterling, whom Francesca ultimately ends up with. Well, it looks like the show decided to make a big change from the book by turning Michael into a female and naming her Michaela. And if you still aren't convinced that Michaela is Michael from the book, just analyze her introduction scene in the Bridgerton season 3 finale.

Michaela introduces herself to Francesca and Eloise, and Francesca can barely keep her composure, stumbling over her words. She can't even keep her eyes off of her. It doesn't seem that Francesca is just nervous about meeting a family member of John's. It appears that she is blown away by Michaela's beauty.

Season 3 showrunner Jess Brownell hinted at there being a queer storyline this season and going forward, and while we initially thought it would involve Benedict, it looks like Francesca was the chosen one instead. With the introduction of Michaela in the third season, it looks like Francesca's love story will be told in the upcoming Bridgerton season 4.

Who plays Michaela Stirling in Bridgerton season 3?

Masali Baduza at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival
2022 Toronto International Film Festival - "The Woman King" Premiere / Unique Nicole/GettyImages

South African actress Masali Baduza portrays the role of Michaela Sterling in the hit period drama. She is best known for her role as Sephy Hadley in the British drama series Noughts + Crosses. You might also recognize her from her roles as young Trish Devereaux in the slasher Slumber Party Massacre and as Fumbe in the action-adventure film The Woman King.

Back in January 2024, there was a rumor going around that Baduza had been cast in the role of Sophie Beckett in the period drama. If you recall from the Bridgerton books, Sophie is Benedict's love interest in An Offer from a Gentleman. However, this rumor has obviously been debunked now that we know she's playing Michaela Stirling.

What are your thoughts on this big change from the Bridgerton books, and are you looking forward to seeing Francesca's love story potentially explored more in the upcoming Bridgerton season 4?

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