We all remember the big Friends guest stars: Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Susan Sarandon, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Julia Roberts.
But every now and then, while getting our annual/monthly/weekly fix of a show that ended 13 years ago (we have a problem moving on, deal with it), we catch sight of a cameo and go, “Hey! I totally forgot Famous Person was in this!”
Or more likely, we didn’t forget so much as never know in the first place because they just weren’t that famous at the time.
One such guest appearance was one of our favourite Orange is the New Black stars – remember The One with the Lesbian Wedding?
Enter Lea DeLaria, better known as Litchfield Penitentiary resident Big Boo.
Ringing a bell?
Phoebe was attending Carol and Susan’s nuptials while apparently inhabited by the ghost of a former client, Rose – who, having not fulfilled her desire to “see everything” before she shuffled off this mortal coil on Phoebe’s massage table, stuck around for a bit.
Seeing the two women get hitched proved to be the “everything” she sought, and as Phoebe explains at the reception that she misses Rose, DeLaria’s nameless character steps in. Thinking she’s discussing an ex-girlfriend, she offers to cheer Phoebe up, encouraging her to “forget about Rose and move on with your life. How about we go get you a drink?” Phoebe leave with her, not realising that she’s being chatted up.
However fond we are of the iconic TV series, Friends fans have to acknowledge that parts of the show were problematic (not least a serious lack of racial diversity in casting), with, among other things, issues in the way transgender people were spoken about, how Chandler’s gay drag queen dad was represented, and stereotyped characters (see: assuming that every guest at a gay wedding, bar the central cast, must also be gay).
And DeLaria has previously spoken about how in her early career, she became frustrated only being offered stereotyped lesbian roles, specifically referencing parts that called on her to “inappropriately” hit on heterosexual women.
Speaking to social media account Humans of New York, which showcases human interest stories, she describes how she moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting: “Once I got [to LA] all I was offered was an endless line of PE teachers, police lieutenants, and the lesbian who inappropriately hits on straight girls at every function.
“That was my niche, until I just started saying no. ‘No, I’m not going to do your movie where you cast every other character with a straight girl and then add me to give it some authenticity’.”
She goes on to say that she preferred New York to LA because she was offered a much wider variety of parts.
“When I'm in New York I play straight girls, I play lesbians, I play men – they let me play anything at all.”