Aisha Tyler looks back on her “Friends” role 20 years later.
The “Last Thing He Told Me” actress revealed that after appearing in the hit film in 2003 as Ross’s (David Schwimmer) love interest Charlie Wheeler, she continues to be identified as the show’s only recurring black character.
“To this day, people come up to me and say, ‘Charlie, Charlie,’ or just ‘black girl from ‘Friends,'” Tyler said. Fun tonight.
The series has been criticized in recent years for its lack of diversity, and co-creator Marta Kauffman made a $4 million donation to her alma mater Brandeis University to fund scholars studying Africa and the African diaspora.
Kauffman, who co-created the series with David Crane, revealed that he initially found the criticism of the lack of representation to be “difficult and frustrating,” but that the events of 2020, namely the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, put it in a new light. in understanding the series.
“Friends” ran from 1994 to 2004 and featured the main group of friends of Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc. Kauffman added, “I’ve learned a lot over the past 20 years. Admitting and accepting guilt is not easy. It hurts to look at yourself in the mirror. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know better 25 years ago.”
Breakout cast member Aniston recently said that the modern generation finds the show “offensive” through a modern lens.
Guest star Tyler recalled how the cast was “unbelievably nice, unbelievably friendly” when he joined, citing Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc welcoming him with open arms.
“We went out and did a curtain call (where) everyone (would) bow to the audience at the end of the show. As we’re backstage, Matthew Perry just leans over and says, “Get ready for your life to change!” Tyler recalled. “It was a very sweet, kind thing to say that to someone who was just petrified and just trying not to pee even a little bit out of fear… My knees were knocking. I was shocked that you didn’t hear my teeth chattering while I was on set.
Tyler added that the series was “the biggest TV show when I got this job.”
“Sometimes you don’t really know what a job will do, how it will change your life. You never know if it’s going to be a hit, Tyler said. “You don’t even know if it’s going to be good.” You are only there to do your best. But I knew when I got ‘Friends’ that it was a big deal.”
He added: “The show had pace. He had a way of turning things on their head and emphasizing words differently (than you would in normal conversation)… They just had a way of playing on words and delivering lines. It just seemed unique to the show.”
Tyler said In style In 2022, there was no dispute that Charlie and Ross’ characters were part of an interracial relationship.
“They didn’t comment on the show about my character being Black, and I think that character was written as a love triangle between Ross and Joey,” Tyler said. “They just happened to cast a black woman who — I don’t know that I’m advocating for colorblind casting, or for people to do more to make shows diverse.”
Actor Schwimmer said in 2020 that he pushed for the character Ross to date women of color.
“I was aware of the lack of diversity and spent years campaigning for Ross to date women of color,” Schwimmer said. The guardian. “One of my first girlfriends on the show was an Asian-American woman, and later I dated African-American women. It was a very conscious pressure on my part.”
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