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‘Hilarious’: Gabrielle Union Hosts an All-Black ‘Friends’ Table Read with Sterling K. Brown, Uzo Aduba, Kendrick Sampson to Inspire People to Vote

Gabrielle Union, Sterling K. Brown, Kendrick Sampson, and Uzo Aduba are just some of the famous names who joined a table read of the sitcom “Friends.” The event was to support Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote organization, which works to increase voter participation. The reading took place on Tuesday, Sept. 22, and featured an all-Black cast.

“Friends,” a sitcom about a group of 20-somethings living in New York City, ran on NBC from 1994-2004. Union, a guest star on the show’s seventh season, hosted the table read with Salli-Richardson-Whitfield directing. Brown, meanwhile, played the character Ross, Aduba read as Phoebe, and Sampson played Joey.

Gabrielle Union (left) hosted a table reading of a “Friends” episode with an all-Black cast that included Sterling K. Brown (center) and Kendrick Sampson (right). (Photos: @gabunion/Instagram, @sterlingkbrown/Instagram, @kendrick38/Instagram)

Brown’s wife Ryan Michelle Bathe was also part of the cast and she read as Rachel, Jeremy Pope portrayed Chandler, and Aisha Hinds played Monica. 

Other celebrities involved in the production end of the virtual event included Issa Rae, Latanya Richardson, Ava DuVernay, Cynthia Erivo, Kerry Washington, Channing Dungey, Rashida Jones, and Tessa Thompson. The cast read from a “Friends” episode that aired in the third season titled “The One Where No One’s Ready.”

The reading was part of a new series called “Zoom Where it Happens,” which encourages people to vote through entertainment. The series launched on Sept. 8 with Tracee Ellis Ross, Sanaa Lathan, Alfre Woodard, and Regina King reading an episode of “The Golden Girls.”

On Monday, Sept. 21, Bathe posted an Instagram message about the reading and said she hopes it helps encourage people to vote in the upcoming general election.

“We’ve selected popular four-quadrant shows to attract a wide cross-section of potential voters,” she said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to see how many people have embraced the series and are actively motivated to get out the vote this November.”

Many reacted to the reading and said they deeply enjoyed it.

“I loved it, Soror! You guys were great!🐘,” wrote someone on Bathe’s Instagram page.

“THAT was hilarious!!! [email protected]@@,” another person chimed in.

“You guys were frickin amazing!!! love you to pieces! ❤️❤️,” a third person wrote.

The original “Friends” cast consisted of Courtney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, and Matthew Perry. The show has been criticized for its lack of diversity, since there were no main Black characters until Aisha Tyler joined in the last two seasons.

In 2017, a group of actors gathered to create an all-Black “Friends” cast for Jay-Z’s “Moonlighting” video, which starred Rae, Thompson, Lakeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Jerrod Carmichael, and Lil Rey Howery.

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