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“Friends” co-creator Marta Kauffman has apologized for not including any Black actors in the highly-popular ’90s sitcom.
Kauffman, 65, claimed she had a hard time understanding the “difficult and frustrating” criticism and chalked it up to “Friends” being singled out. Now, she’s apologizing and pledging $4 million to her alma mater, Brandeis University.
“I’ve learned a lot in the last 20 years,” Kauffman said in a Zoom interview with the Los Angeles Times.
“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.”
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“Friends” was set in New York City and followed a group of six friends living in the city.
Kauffman’s pledge will go to support the university’s African and African American Studies program.
“It took me a long time to begin to understand how I internalized systemic racism,” Kauffman said in a statement to Brandeis University.
“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 university said the scholarship will allow the department to “recruit more expert scholars and teachers, map long-term academic and research priorities and provide new opportunities for students to engage in interdisciplinary scholarship.”
“Brandeis is where I learned to be a human being,” Kauffman said.
“This is where my eyes were opened – at least, the beginning of that, they weren’t completely open. I had a lot to learn, but it was the beginning of that. It was the beginning of caring about things beyond my sphere, and I credit Brandeis for that.”
“Friends” ran for 10 seasons from 1994 until 2004.