Gabrielle Union is teaming up with a handful of her entertainment industry peers to breathe new life into NBC’s hit sitcom Friends—but it’s not quite what you might think. Union is gearing up to host a reading of the show featuring an all-Black cast in an effort to draw attention to Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote initiative.
The event will be free and open to the public; however, those wishing to tune in to watch the will be prompted to sign up during registration to receive ongoing messages about information regarding elections from a number of social justice organizations.
The reading will see the original Friends cast of Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer replaced with some of the biggest names in Black Hollywood. The character portrayals will go as follows:
Ryan Michelle Bathe will portray Aniston’s princess turned barista character, Rachel
Uzo Aduba will portray Kudrow’s masseuse and musician character, Phoebe
Aisha Hinds will portray Cox’s competitive chef character, Monica
Sterling K. Brown will portray Schwimmer’s proud paleontologist character, Ross
Kendrick Sampson will portray LeBlanc’s struggling actor character, Joey
Jeremy Pope will portray Perry’s character, the King of Sarcasm himself, Chandler
The group will be reenacting one of the show’s most iconic episodes titled, “The One Where’s No One’s Ready.” The episode was previously reimagined by Jay-Z during the music video for the single “Moonlight,” from his 4:44 album.
“We’ve selected popular four-quadrant shows to attract a wide cross section of potential voters,” said Bathe, who will join real-life husband Sterling K. Brown to bring fan favorites Ross and Rachel to life. “We’re thrilled to see how many people have embraced the series and are actively motivated to get out the vote this November.”
The reading is part of a virtual event series called “Zoom Where It Happens.” Previous events in the series included a live table read of Golden Girls reimagined with an all-Black cast. The reading featured Tracee Ellis Ross, Alfre Woodard, Regina King and Sanaa Lathan, who each portrayed one of the beloved Golden Girls characters.
When We All Vote is a nationwide, nonpartisan nonprofit launched in 2018 by cochairs Michelle Obama, Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Janelle Monae, Chris Paul, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. The initiative seeks to create change by shifting the culture of voting in the United States while working to unite citizens, institutions, brands and organizations together to promote civic action.
For more information, visit Zoom Where It Happens.