“Friends” Co-Creator Admits She Was “Part of Systemic Racism”

Marta Kauffman says she has "not done enough to encourage black voices"

The cast of "Friends."
The cast of "Friends."
Warner Bros. Television

One of the biggest criticisms of Friends — both while the sitcom was on the air and afterwards — was its lack of diversity, and in a new interview, the show’s co-creator Marta Kauffman expressed regrets over being a “part of systemic racism.”

“What I have to say is, it’s something I learned in the past two weeks — and this is not just about Friends, this is about my career — that I have not done enough to encourage black voices, to bring in black crew, to bring in black writers. I have not done enough,” Kauffman told The Wrap.

“I was part of systemic racism,” she added. “I take full responsibility for that, that I was so ignorant that I didn’t see my behavior. I never thought of myself as a racist, you know. I thought I was this person who accepted everybody and believed in humanitarian things and humanism. I just, I missed it, I missed it. And now I look back and think I can’t live like that anymore, I can’t do that anymore. I have got to find a way to change how I reach out to people, how I find crew, how I find writers, how I find new voices without appropriating anything. I don’t think I’m the one to tell black stories, but I am the one to bring in black writers to write on my shows. I am the one to encourage finding black crew. And I apologize for my ignorance and hope I’ve truly learned from it and will behave differently.”
Kauffman also vowed to seek out more diverse writers to work with her production company, Okay Goodnight.
“We’re doing all sorts of outreach to look for writers and to look for people who can work at our company starting at a lower level and growing into some of the bigger jobs, which we do anyway with everyone who works at our company,” she said. “Everybody starts at one place and moves up. The woman who was my assistant is now the head of development. So I hope that however we figure out a way to do this, besides the outreach — and people are reaching out to me, too, which I really appreciate. People are reaching out to me saying, ‘I’m a black transgender person who hasn’t had an opportunity to have my voice heard, will you read my script.’ And we are going to do that and we are going to be open to everything that comes our way.”
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