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Lisa Kudrow says Friends creators had ‘no business writing stories’ about people of color

Lisa Kudrow has weighed in of the lack of diversity in Friends and claimed the show’s creators had ‘no business writing stories about people of colour’.

The actress, 59, who played Phoebe Buffay on the sitcom, said David Crane and Marta Kauffman wrote the series about their own personal lives and did not have the experiences of being a person of colour.

Lisa, who previously admitted in 2020 the series lacked representation throughout its 10 seasons and believes if it was made today it would have been more diverse, touched on the issue again in a new interview.

Lisa said: ‘I feel like it was a show created by two people who went to Brandeis and wrote about their lives after college. And for shows especially, when it’s going to be a comedy that’s character-driven, you write what you know.

‘They have no business writing stories about the experiences of being a person of colour. I think at that time, the big problem that I was seeing was, ‘Where’s the apprenticeship?”, she told Daily Beast.

The latest: Lisa Kudrow has weighed in of the lack of diversity in Friends and claimed the show’s creators had ‘no business writing stories about people of colour’ (pictured March 2022)

Lisa previously told the Sunday Times that if there were a current incarnation of the series, ‘It would not be an all-white cast,’ adding that the show ‘should be looked at as a time capsule, not for what they did wrong.’

Creator Marta, 65, told the Los Angeles Times in June that she was focused on incorporating diversity into her work moving forward.

She said: ‘I feel I was finally able to make some difference in the conversation. I have to say, after agreeing to this and when I stopped sweating, it didn’t unburden me, but it lifted me up. But until in my next production I can do it right, it isn’t over.

‘I want to make sure from now on in every production I do that I am conscious in hiring people of colour and actively pursue young writers of colour. I want to know I will act differently from now on. And then I will feel unburdened.’

Marta said that at first it ‘was difficult and frustrating’ to hear criticism of the series over the show’s lack of representation.

Cast: The series starred a principal cast of white actors (L_R) Lisa, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox and Matt LeBlanc

Cast: The series starred a principal cast of white actors (L_R) Lisa, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox and Matt LeBlanc

In an effort to ‘right the wrong’, Marta also made a $4million donation to Brandeis University in creating the Marta F. Kauffman ’78 Professorship in African and African American Studies. 

It aims to ‘support a distinguished scholar with a concentration in the study of the peoples and cultures of Africa and the African diaspora.’

She said that the 2020 murder of George Floyd was a turning point in her awareness of systemic racism and how the popular series might have played into it.

Marta said: ‘It was after what happened to George Floyd that I began to wrestle with my having bought into systemic racism in ways I was never aware of.

‘That was really the moment that I began to examine the ways I had participated. I knew then I needed to course-correct.’

The series starred a principal cast of white actors Lisa, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer.

The performers of colour who made appearances on the series included Aisha Tyler, who played Joey and Ross’ love interest Charlie Wheeler.

Opinion: The actress, 59, who played Phoebe Buffay on the sitcom, said that David Crane (right) and Marta Kauffman (centre) wrote the series about their own personal lives and did not have the experiences of being a person of colour

Opinion: The actress, 59, who played Phoebe Buffay on the sitcom, said that David Crane (right) and Marta Kauffman (centre) wrote the series about their own personal lives and did not have the experiences of being a person of colour

The character starred in nine episodes and had the second longest run of a POC, aside from Ross’ girlfriend Julie [Lauren Tom].

Black actors Gabrielle Union, Phill Davies Tom Lauren Tom, Craig Robinson and Mark Consuelos among others also featured in the series but only as tertiary characters.

Marta said that she has ‘learned a lot in the last 20 years’ and is ’embarrassed [she] didn’t know better 25 years ago.’

She noted: ‘Admitting and accepting guilt is not easy. It’s painful looking at yourself in the mirror.’

After the announcement of the donation, Kauffman told the Los Angeles Times: ‘I’ve gotten nothing but love. It’s been amazing. It surprised me to some extent, because I didn’t expect the news to go this wide.

‘I’ve gotten a flood of emails and texts and posts that have been nothing but supportive. I’ve gotten a lot of “It’s about time.” Not in a mean way. It’s just people acknowledging it was long overdue.’ 

Pictured: (clockwise from left) Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani and Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay

Pictured: (clockwise from left) Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani and Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay

David, who played Ross on the hit show, told The Guardian in an interview in 2020 that he was always pushing for diversity on Friends.

He said: ‘I was well aware of the lack of diversity and I campaigned for years to have Ross date women of colour.’

‘One of the first girlfriends I had on the show was an Asian-American woman, and later I dated African-American women. That was a very conscious push on my part.’ 

It took the show until 2002 to cast Aisha, the first black actress to become a series regular on the show, playing Dr Charlie, a palaeontology professor who ended up dating Ross in season nine.

The realization about the show’s lack of black characters has sometimes been hard for Marta, who got emotional in 2020 while admitting that she didn’t do enough to promote diversity on her hit NBC sitcom.

Claims: David , who played Ross on the hit show, told The Guardian in an interview in 2020 that he was always pushing for diversity on Friends (pictured Aisha Tyler as Charlie right)

Claims: David , who played Ross on the hit show, told The Guardian in an interview in 2020 that he was always pushing for diversity on Friends (pictured Aisha Tyler as Charlie right)

Representation: The character starred in nine episodes and had the second longest run of a POC, aside from Ross' girlfriend Julie [Lauren Tom] (pictured right)

Representation: The character starred in nine episodes and had the second longest run of a POC, aside from Ross’ girlfriend Julie [Lauren Tom] (pictured right)

Marta was asked during the virtual 2020 ATX TV Festival about what she ‘wished she knew’ when she started her career in television.

The writer/producer teared up and got emotional, stating: ‘I wish I knew then what I know today. 

‘What makes this truly emotional for me is that I want this connection I didn’t have. I deeply, deeply want this connection with the Black community that I didn’t have. Because of Friends, I never attained that.

Referring again to the lack of diversity, she said: ‘Sorry, I just wish I knew then what I know now. I would’ve made very different decisions.

She added: ‘I mean we’ve always encouraged people of diversity in our company, but I didn’t do enough and now all I can think about is what can I do?’ 

‘What can I do differently? How can I run my show in a new way? And that’s something I not only wish I knew when I started show running, but I wish I knew all the way up through last year.’

'Friends' has been criticized for having a lack of diversity on the show

‘Friends’ has been criticized for having a lack of diversity on the show 


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