As a result of Marta Kauffman’s “guilt” and “embarrassment” over the lack of diversity in the cast of “Friends,” the creator of the show has decided to donate $4 million to the African and African American Studies program at Brandeis University, where she received her education.
Due to “Guilt” Over the Lack of Diversity in the Show, “Friends'” Creator Donates $4 Million!
In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, the television writer stated that she began understanding the criticism directed at her series following the waves of Black Lives Matter protests in the year 2020.
The series in question was an extremely popular sitcom from the 1990s that continues to dominate the zeitgeist as a result of its syndication and era-specific nostalgia.
“After what happened to George Floyd, I began to deal with my having bought into systemic racism in ways that I was never conscious of,” Kauffman said. “It was after what happened to George Floyd that I began to wrestle with my having bought into systemic racism.”
“At that very moment, I realized that I needed to investigate the ways in which I had contributed. I had a sudden realization that I needed to make a course adjustment.
The Marta F. Kauffman ’78 Professorship in African and African American Studies at the private research university will provide financial support to an eminent academic who has made a significant contribution to the field of research pertaining to the people and cultures of Africa and the African diaspora.
The award will also aid the department in planning its long-term academic priorities, providing new possibilities for students to engage in interdisciplinary work, and recruiting additional specialists and professors to join the faculty.
Kauffman stated that she has only received love in reaction to the news of the contribution when asked about the feedback she has received since the announcement. It has been incredible.
It took me by surprise to some degree because I didn’t anticipate the news to spread to such a wide audience. I have been inundated with messages of support in the form of emails, texts, and posts.
All of them have been positive. A number of people have said to me, “It’s about time.” In no sarcastic sense at all. Simply put, people are finally admitting that it has been well past due.
She went on to say that at first, it was “tough” and “frustrating” to engage with the criticisms: “I’ve learned a lot in the previous 20 years.
It is not simple to acknowledge and accept one’s guilt. When you look in the mirror, it’s excruciating to see yourself. It makes me feel ashamed that I didn’t have more common sense 25 years ago.
There were no characters of color featured in the core cast of the television show “Friends,” which starred Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer.
Some of the lesser supporting parts featured people from a range of backgrounds, and they were represented by actors such as Gabrielle Union, Mark Consuelos, and Craig Robinson. However, the arcs of these characters’ stories were typically resolved in a single episode.
Following the reunion special that aired on HBO Max the previous year, discussions surrounding diversity were brought back up.
When speaking to TheWrap in June 2020, Kauffman spoke on the importance of making purposeful decisions about the hiring of inclusive cast and crew members.
“I have not done enough to support Black voices, to bring in Black crew, or to bring in Black writers. I have also not brought in Black staff. I have not put in sufficient effort,” she stated at the time.