Aisha Tyler Remembers Friends Gig And The Memorable Comment Matthew Perry Made To Her On Her First Night Taping

Aisha Tyler has had a long career in television ranging from a key voice acting role on Archer, co-hosting The Talk, and a long stint on the procedural Criminal Minds. Now, the actress is recounting her early start on the incredibly successful NBC show, Friends, and sharing a memorable comment Matthew Perry said to her on her first day of shooting.

Tyler’s career skyrocketed when she landed a recurring guest appearance on Friends as Charlie, the love interest of both Joey and Ross during her time on the show. She appeared later in the series run, and she was a central figure in several main plots in the show. When discussing what it was like working on the iconic series, Tyler shared one particular thing Matthew Perry said to her on her first taping night. The actress detailed to InStyle:

The night of my very first live performance in front of a studio audience, as the cast came together at the end of the taping to take a bow in front of the crowd, Matthew Perry made a point of saying to me, 'Get ready for your life to change,' and it did! He may have said that to every guest actor, I don't know, but it was a special moment for me, and a seminal memory of my time there.

Friends was such an incredibly popular show, so this wasn’t a strange thing for Perry to say. Before the show premiered, producer Jim Burrows took the cast to Vegas as one last hoorah before their own lives were changed. He likely was just passing on the sentiment. Being on Friends was a straight shot to stardom, and Tyler knew this. The Criminal Minds star remembered being intimidated by the legacy of Friends, however, the cast was welcoming and helped clamTyler’s nerves. She explained: 

The cast was incredibly welcoming when I first joined. This was in Season 9 when they had already had several very high-profile guest actors on the show, including Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Tom Selleck, and Bruce Willis. I think they were very aware that it could be an intimidating set, and they made a special effort to be kind and open toward me when I arrived.

Clearly, the Friends cast was hyper-aware of their own popularity, and they did everything they could to make guests feel as comfortable as possible. As for her experience on the show, and what it did for her professionally, Tyler looks back on her Friends stint fondly. The actress also discussed what it was like to be the first Black actress to have a recurring role on the series. Tyler further detailed:

Honestly, it was a great experience personally and creatively. I don't think that I felt like, even though I knew that was a milestone, I don't know that I felt like they turned it into something more than what it was, which was just a love interest for Ross ... There [wasn't dialog] about the fact that it was an interracial relationship. There was no commentary on the show about my character being Black, and I think they had just written this character as this kind of love triangle between Ross and Joey. They happened to hire a Black woman, which — I don't know that I'm advocating for colorblind casting any more than I'm advocating for people doing a better job at making shows diverse.

Shows like Friends have been criticized in the past for only featuring white actors, especially when set in areas of such diversity as New York City. There are now much more diverse casts featured on modern-day sitcoms, and more diverse personnel behind the scenes as well. Shows like New Girl and Abbott Elementary are extremely successful and have promoted diversity in casting. Television has come a long way, and Tyler was there breaking barriers from the start. 

Aisha Tyler is still killing it on the small screen. Paramount+ subscribers can catch the actress in Criminal Minds: Evolution. You can also revisit Tyler’s historic appearance on Friends, which is available to stream with an HBO Max subscription. For more information on other series coming to television and streaming in the near future, make sure to consult CinemaBlend’s 2023 TV schedule. 

Caroline Young

Writer, podcaster, CinemaBlend contributor, film and television nerd, enthusiastic person. Hoping to bring undying passion for storytelling to CinemaBlend.