Michelle Buteau, a seasoned actress, comedian, author, podcaster, and reality show host, is making waves as she takes on a new role as the protagonist, co-creator, and writer in her Netflix series, “Survival of the Thickest.”
Having previously graced the screen with supporting roles in notable films like “Always Be My Maybe” and “Marry Me,” Buteau is now at the helm, portraying Mavis Beaumont in a story loosely based on her own eponymous memoir published in 2020.
The series delves into Mavis’ journey as a New Yorker navigating the aftermath of a challenging breakup in her late 30s, while fervently pursuing a career dedicated to making fashionable clothing accessible to all.
For Buteau, centering a story about an unapologetically fat and outspoken woman fulfills a gap she’s noticed in the industry for years. Drawing from her own experiences, a large part of Mavis’ character is inspired by Buteau’s own life.
However, the brilliance of the show’s writing lies in its ability to weave in themes of body positivity, self-acceptance, and inclusion. The energy and impact of these themes were palpable both in front of and behind the camera.
Here’s what the co-creator and star of “Survival of the Thickest” had to share about getting the opportunity to star in her first series.
L.A. Sentinel: Hi, Michelle [Buteau]. One question: Why are you so funny?
Michelle Buteau: Oh, my goodness. Well, because I’m a woman!?!
LAS: Nah, that’s not it. It’s something even more special.
MB: Thank you for recognizing my talent.
LAS: Well, I am not blind or deaf. Your talent is hard to miss, mama! I have a writers’ crush on you and your co-creator, Danielle Sanchez-Witzel.
MB: That’s right. That’s right.
LAS: The writing is so real.
MB: I was like, this show needs to be as authentic as possible, and it was so wild working with Danielle because she’s amazing, and I knew what I wanted to say. I’m so thankful for Danielle Sanchez-Witzel because she’s like my Erin Brockovich when it comes to the show.
LAS: Netflix is a big deal.
MB: 190 countries. Eight episodes.
LAS: Is there anything you might want to add that other reporters might have forgotten to ask?
MB: Oh my goodness. I don’t know. I think I really want people to know just how groundbreaking this is.
LAS: And funny!
MB: I think a lot of people in their day-to-day have a mom or auntie or a sister or a cousin in their life who is a size 16 to 20. And either they don’t see their size and they love them so much or they’re saying, “You have a pretty face” or whatever it is.
I just want them to check in on them and let them know that they are loved. Because you can’t go from whatever society is doing to us and be Lizzo at the Grammy overnight.
LAS: Yeah, amen.
This interview was conducted on July 13; before the SAG-AFTRA strike was implemented and has been edited for length and clarity.