'Friends' Table Read to Feature All-Black Cast Including Sterling K. Brown and Uzo Aduba

After years of barely a person of color on Friends, we’re finally getting “The One With the Diverse Cast.” An all-Black cast will lead a virtual Friends table read, reimagining the classic season 3 episode “The One Where No One’s Ready” in support of Michelle Obama’s voting nonprofit When We All VoteGabrielle Union will host a table read that will include Sterling K. BrownUzo Aduba, and more.

Deadline reports that Sterling K. Brown, Uzo Aduba, Ryan Bathe, Aisha Hinds, Kendrick Sampson and Jeremy Pope are set to star in an online Friends table read today of the Season 3 episode “The One Where No One’s Ready,” a famous bottle episode of Friends that has been the subject of parody and named as one of the best episodes of the show (with the single location of the episode, it also makes for perfect table read material). Brown will play Ross, Aduba is Phoebe, Sampson is Joey, Bathe is Rachel, Pope is Chandler and Hinds is Monica.

The hourlong “Zoom Where It Happens” event hosted by Gabrielle Union will start at 6:00 P.M. EST today, with Salli Richardson-Whitfield is set to direct. The table read is being held in support When We All Vote, a national nonprofit led by Michelle Obama with a mission to “change the culture around voting by bringing together citizens, institutions, brands and organizations to increase participation in every election.”

Union’s participation is a little fitting, as the actress appeared in a 2001 episode of the beloved NBC sitcom, as one of the few Black characters in the notoriously white show. The lack of diversity in a show set in New York City was a resounding criticism of Friends for much of its entire 10-season run, which Friends would later attempt to remedy by casting Aisha Tyler as Ross’ girlfriend Charlie Wheeler in seasons 9 and 10, making her the first-ever Black actor to be get a recurring role on the show.

Funnily enough, this is not the first time this episode in particular was remade with an all-Black cast. Jay-Z in his music video for “Moonlight” recreated one of the most memorable scenes from “The One Where No One’s Ready” with an all-Black cast including Jerrod Carmichael, Issa Rae, Tiffany Haddish, LaKeith Stanfield, Lil Rel Howery, and Tessa Thompson. Interestingly, Jay-Z’s music video uses the scene to highlight the need for more Black projects rather than just Black remakes of beloved properties.

But this is a table read all in good fun and comes two weeks after an all-Black table read of Golden Girls featuring Regina King, Tracee Ellis Ross, Alfre Woodard and Sanaa Lathan. And it’ll be a nice victory tour for several of the table read cast members, who come off of a great night at the Emmys, with Aduba winning a trophy for her role in Mrs. America while Pope scored a nomination for Hollywood and Brown got two nods for This Is Us and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Meanwhile, production on the long-awaited Friends reunion special for HBO Max remains in limbo due to coronavirus shutdown delays.

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