Friends creator 'embarrassed' about show's lack of diversity - makes $4m apology
Kauffman cited the George Floyd case as her push for change
One of the creators of the popular sitcom Friends has apologised for the show's lack of diversity while also pledging a donation of $4m.
Marta Kauffman once believed that Friends was being singled out for its lack of diversity and admitted to the Los Angeles Times that she found it "difficult and frustrating." However 20 years after Friends first hit screens; the 65-year-old has had a change of heart.
Kauffman said that the lack of inclusivity and people of colour were a symptom of her own ignorance surrounding systemic racism, particularly in the US. That ignorance was broken, she claims, when police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd in 2020.
"I've learned a lot in the last 20 years," she told LA Times journalist Greg Baxton. "Admitting and accepting guilt is not easy. It's painful looking at yourself in the mirror. I'm embarrassed that I didn't know better 25 years ago.
"I knew then I needed to course-correct," she added.
Conversations surrounding the diversity of Friends saw an uptick after the cast reunited for its anniversary special last year. Lots of fans who had watched the show as a kid were suddenly confronted by the realisation that there is only one Black recurring character, Aisha Tyler's Charlie Wheeler.
Time and reflection pushed Kauffman into making a $4m donation to Brandeis University in Boston. The money will go towards the African and African American studies department which was set up in 1969.
The department strives to study the "Peoples of African descent through the lens of history, literature, economics, art and sociology" while using a "breadth of interdisciplinary engagement."
"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," Kauffman explained. "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."
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