Actress Quinta Brunson Blasts 'Friends' For Having 'No Black Characters'

By maks in Showbiz On 2nd April 2024
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Quinta Brunson, the powerhouse behind "Abbott Elementary," took a moment to highlight the noticeable absence of Black characters in the 90s hit show "Friends."

The talented 33-year-old, who juggles roles as a producer, writer, and actress, found herself hosting "Saturday Night Live" — a dream spot that's been filled by stars like Kristen Stewart, Alec Baldwin, Kim Kardashian, and Steve Martin.

While on SNL, Brunson didn't miss the chance to give a shoutout to her comedy series "Abbott Elementary," which has quickly become a fan favorite.

The show gives us a peek into the lives of teachers working in a mostly Black public school in Philadelphia.

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In her opening monologue, Brunson playfully compared her creation to "Friends" (as reported by The Independent), saying:

"I wanted to be on SNL back in the day but the audition process seemed long - so instead, I just created my own TV show, made sure it became really popular, won a bunch of Emmys and then got asked to host. So much easier, so much easier."

Quinta Brunson called out the lack of diversity on Friends. Credit: Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE

She continued to describe "Abbott Elementary," noting, "It's a network sitcom like, say, Friends."

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Except, instead of being about a group of friends, it's about a group of teachers. Instead of New York, it's in Philadelphia and instead of not having Black people, it does."

Her comments, which drew cheers from the audience, gently ribbed at the lack of diversity in "Friends" — a topic that has sparked much discussion over the years, especially concerning its portrayal of non-white and LGBTQIA+ characters.

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Marta Kauffman, one of the creators of "Friends," admitted in 2022 that she was "embarrassed" by the show's lack of diversity.

This led her to donate $4 million to Brandeis University to establish an endowed chair in the African and African American studies department.

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Kauffman reflected on her journey of understanding and addressing systemic racism, saying: "I've learned a lot in the last 20 years."

"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."

Marta Kauffman admitted she is "embarrassed" about the lack of diversity and made a large donation. Credit: JC Olivera/FilmMagic

She continued: "It took me a long time to begin to understand how I internalized systemic racism. I've been working really hard to become an ally, an anti-racist."

"And this seemed to me to be a way that I could participate in the conversation from a white woman's perspective."

The response to Kauffman's donation was overwhelmingly positive. She shared:

"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."

"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," showing that her gesture was a step in the right direction for many.