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Lisa Kudrow addresses the lack of diversity in Friends

Emily Brown

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Lisa Kudrow addresses the lack of diversity in Friends

Featured Image Credit: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo / NBC

Friends actor Lisa Kudrow has addressed the lack of diversity in the hit sitcom in which she starred as one of six white actors in leading roles.

Kudrow, who played Phoebe in the series, addressed the matter after co-creator Marta Kauffman pledged a $4 million donation to an African and African American studies project at her former university, Brandeis in Massachusetts, with one of her reasons for the donation being that she felt 'embarrassed' over the failure to include a more diverse cast of characters in Friends.

Kauffman co-created the show with David Crane in 1994, telling the story of six friends dealing with life and love in New York City - a story now known by millions of fans across the world.

Lisa Kudrow starred as Phoebe in the hit series. Credit: Warner Bros.
Lisa Kudrow starred as Phoebe in the hit series. Credit: Warner Bros.

When questioned about the diversity on Friends, Kudrow told The Daily Beast it was a product of the co-creator's own lives.

She commented: "Well, 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?'"

Kudrow starred alongside Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer, with some of the few non-white characters including Ross' girlfriends Julie, Charlie and Kristen.

Kauffman has previously expressed her 'embarrassment' at having not known 'better' 25 years ago with regards to diversity on the show, saying “It took me a long time to begin to understand how I internalised systemic racism.

“I’ve been working really hard to become an ally, an anti-racist. And [the fund] seemed to me to be a way that I could participate in the conversation from a white woman’s perspective.”

Lisa Kudrow said the creators wrote what they knew. Credit: REUTERS/Alamy Stock Photo
Lisa Kudrow said the creators wrote what they knew. Credit: REUTERS/Alamy Stock Photo

In spite of its issues, Friends remains a fan-favourite show nearly 20 years after its final episode in 2004. Kudrow was asked whether she'd ever been approached for a movie about the hit series, but revealed she had 'never'.

The actor commented: "Marta [Kauffman] and David [Crane] would be approached, but none of us would think of moving without them. But they always thought, 'No, no. Here’s what we did. This is what we had for you.'"

Kudrow assured the stars of the show 'really' got along well, saying the relationship was 'really respectful' and adding: "It was a fantastic relationship that we all got to experience."

Topics: TV and Film, Friends, Celebrity, Racism

Emily Brown
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