One of the co-creators of the TV show Friends, perhaps the most monumentally successful worldwide global smash hit production ever, has apologised for the characters being white and pledged to give millions of dollars to black education.
Marta Kauffman told the LA Times that she finds it “painful” that all the main characters on the show were not ‘diverse’ enough for modern standards and that “Admitting and accepting guilt is not easy.”
The writer continued, “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.”
“I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know better 25 years ago,” Kauffman continued, adding that the death of George Floyd in 2020 prompted her to realise that she had “internalized systemic racism,” and “participated” in it, and that she “needed to course-correct.”
Now, to correct her white guilt, Kauffman says she will give $4 million to fund an endowed chair in Brandeis University’s African and African American studies department.
“I’m finally, literally putting my money where my mouth is,” Kauffman said, adding “I feel I was finally able to make some difference in the conversation.”
“I’ve been working really hard to become an ally, an anti-racist. And this seemed to me to be a way that I could participate in the conversation from a white woman’s perspective,” she added.
Kauffman has also promised to correct her whitey problem in future productions.
“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,” she said, adding “I want to make sure from now on in every production I do that I am conscious in hiring people of color and actively pursuing young writers of color. I want to know I will act differently from now on. And then I will feel unburdened.”
Kauffman’s co-creator on Friends, Kevin Bright, was also recently asked about a lack of diversity on the show to which he replied “I would have been insane not to hire those six actors. What can I say? I wish Lisa [Kudrow] was black?”
In a Hollywood Reporter interview, Bright explained “For the parts of Chandler and Phoebe, we saw everybody and we picked what we thought with the two best actors. There are different priorities today and so much has changed.”
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