Kauffman who was one of the co-creators of the show along with David Crane, spoke on a panel at the virtual 2020 ATX TV festival and made the emotional admission when asked what she wished she knew before starting her career.
In response Marta told viewers, "I wish I knew then what I know today," she said, tearing up. "Sorry, I just wish I knew then what I know now. I would’ve made very different decisions.
"I mean we’ve always encouraged people of diversity in our company," she continued. "But I didn’t do enough and now all I can think about is what can I do? What can I do differently? How can I run my show in a new way? And that’s something I not only wish I knew when I started showrunning, but I wish I knew all the way up through last year."
Friends is considered one of the most successful sitcoms of all time, but the lack of diversity is something it has been called out for repeatedly.
A Black Lady Sketch Show creator and showrunner Robin Thede, who was also on the panel, said, "[The] challenge now is to greenlight these modern black stories; we want to be able to make our version of The Vampire Diaries, our version of Buffy, we want to be able to make sci-fi, horror, I’m writing features in different genres," she continued. "It’s important for us to be normalised in all genres. It’s about what we can do now. it’s not about just hiring one black actor and one black writer. It’s about creating an environment where everyone feels equal on set."
She also spoke about the issue with 'diversity hires', "We’ve seen these diversity programs in the past with diversity hires paid for by the network and they’re not treated as a full-blown writer on the show and that to me is insane," she said. "I remember writing a spec script for Parks and Recreation years ago and my agent didn’t submit it to the showrunner and he told me months later that 'the spec is good but it wasn’t a diversity position so I didn’t send it'. That agent obviously got fired but he literally thought he couldn’t submit my script if it wasn’t a diversity position. It’s that kind of thinking that we have to deal with to this day."
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