"I'm Here" singer Cynthia Erivo sure knows how to make an entrance. The Grammy winner and Oscar nominee surprised fans on Tuesday Sept. 22 at Gabrielle Union's all-Black Friends table read, which had a star-studded cast.
Erivo performed the theme song, "I'll Be There For You" by The Rembrandts, to kick off the performance on Zoom.
Ross and Rachel were played by real-life spouses Sterling K. Brown and Ryan Michelle Bathe. Emmy winner Uzo Aduba portrayed Phoebe, Aisha Hinds was Monica, Kendrick Sampson was Joey and Jeremy Pope was Chandler.
Salli Richardson-Whitfield, who has directed episodes of Dear White People and Shadowhunters, directed the reading and Dear White People leader Stephanie Allain produced the live table read of "The One Where No One's Ready," from season three of Friends.
The virtual watch party benefitted the nonprofit When We All Vote on National Voter Registration Day.
"The One Where No One's Ready" centered on Ross as he tried to round up his friends to leave for a big museum benefit. Brown appeared in a bowtie and cuddled his wife, who wore a bathrobe and gold hoops for the opening scene.
Throughout the episode, Monica obsessed over a phone call from her ex, Richard, and speculated he might have a new girlfriend. Chandler and Joey were up to their shenanigans by fighting over a spot in a chair. Pope told Sampson, "In the words of Jordan Peele, 'Get out.'"
The pair, who can be seen onscreen in Hollywood and Insecure, respectively, recreated the iconic moment when Joey puts on all of Chandler's clothes as revenge for Chandler stealing Joey's underwear.
"I'm Chandler. Could I BE wearing any more clothes?" Sampson, as Joey, recited.
Once the group was finally ready to leave for the banquet, Ross and Rachel shared a sweet kiss onscreen.
When the reading ended, Union asked each of the actors about their plans to vote. Bathe, 44, revealed she has signed up to be a poll worker on election day, Nov. 3, as a "side hustle." Brown, 44, beamed and said, "That's my girl."
Hinds said, "This episode is called 'The One Where No One's Ready.' I have not been more ready to vote." The 9-1-1 star added, "I will be voting super duper early. ...So I can't wait."
Sampson announced he will be marching to the polls: "Socially distance march to the polls, masks on, ballots in hand, boom."
Union concluded with a heartfelt request to viewers to cast their ballots. "Please please please register to vote," the 47-year-old mom said. "Let's get out there and make sure our votes and our voices are heard."
The Friends show ended with a message of "special thanks" to Tessa Thompson and Lena Waithe, among other creatives.
The Zoom series, dubbed Zoom Where It Happens, previously put together an all-Black Golden Girls table read with Tracee Ellis Ross and Regina King, who took home an Emmy on Sunday for Watchmen. The West Wing cast will reunite in the fall to benefit When We All Vote as well.
And although original Friends actress Jennifer Aniston—who encouraged fans to register to vote on Tuesday—wasn't involved in the Friends reading, she was a part of Dane Cook's epic Fast Times at Ridgemont High table read this month, which saw her virtually reunite with ex Brad Pitt.