Netflix’s Michelle Buteau on Her Overnight Success … After 2 Decades: ‘I’m Just Getting Started’

If you asked Michelle Buteau what she wanted to be when she grew up, her first answer wouldn’t have been a comedian.

As a kid, “I always thought they looked sweaty and sad,” she tells PEOPLE. “Just yelling and complaining. I’m like, ‘That’s not me!’ ”

But nowadays, Buteau, 43, is making a name for herself as a comedic force — minus the whole sadness and complaining part. (There has, however, been some sweat.)

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After working in the business for nearly two decades, she’s fresh off a whirlwind year-and-a-half, which includes: a part in Jennifer Lopez’s new movie Marry Me (due out next year), a handful of hit small-screen roles (including Always Be My Maybe, The Circle and Tales of the City on Netflix and The First Wives Club on BET+), a new book, and her first Netflix comedy special, Welcome to Buteaupia, which premieres Sept. 29.

“I’m incredibly happy things are taking off,” Buteau says. “I feel like I’ve got a Costco-sized blessing.”

Still, it’s been a long road to get there. After college, Buteau, 43, worked overnights as a news producer in New York City while performing two to three standup shows before her shift.

Finally, after gaining popularity doing comedy college tours, she made enough money to quit her day job.

“There was never a moment where I thought, I’m not going to make it,” she says. “When I’m in it, I’m in it to win it.”

Now, with her career at an all-time high, Buteau is savoring every moment. “I feel like I’m just getting started,” she says. “There’s not enough champagne to celebrate what we got going on.”

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