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Friends: Who Plays Emily & Where Have You Seen Her Lately?

Much like her one-time husband Ross Geller (David Schwimmer), Emily Waltham is an unfairly maligned character on "Friends." And for what? The poor woman's only crime was acting as a stopover on Ross and Rachel's (Jennifer Aniston) decade-long relationship arc. In the service of one of the most jaw-dropping moments in "Friends" history, Emily's wedding was ruined in the most humiliating fashion imaginable.

Helen Baxendale was cast in the role of Emily in 1998 when she was 27 years old, and while she was a new face to American audiences, she was already known across the pond for her performances in the successful British dramas "Cardiac Arrest" and "Cold Feet." Baxendale ultimately appeared in 14 episodes of "Friends" in Seasons 4 and 5, an arc that included her whirlwind romance with Ross, their hasty betrothal, and their protracted separation (for much of which she was off-screen). Indeed, Baxendale was written off of the show earlier than expected when she became pregnant with her first child.

The timing worked out for Baxendale, who opted to raise her family in her native England. "I didn't want to live in America, when all my circumstances were leading me back to Britain," the actress told the Daily Mail in 2012. She has since taken on a number of roles in the United Kingdom, starring in shows like "Cuckoo" and "Kidnap and Ransom." 

Helen Baxendale recently starred in Noughts + Crosses

Following her "Friends" exit in 1999, Helen Baxendale appeared in a number of British TV shows, including "Murder in Mind" and "Agatha Christie's Marple." In 2011, she played Angela Beddoes, a hostage negotiation expert, in "Kidnap and Ransom," and she starred opposite Greg Davies and, in Season 1, Andy Samberg in the sitcom "Cuckoo" from 2012 to 2019.

More recently, Baxendale starred in the BBC series "Noughts + Crosses." Based on the novels by Malorie Blackman, the show takes place in an alternate history in which Europe was colonized by the fictional Aprican Empire, a conglomeration of West African nations. Set in present-day London, the show's universe is racially segregated between the wealthy Crosses of Aprican descent and the working class Noughts of European descent. Baxendale plays Meggie McGregor, the housekeeper to the wealthy Hadley family led by Home Secretary Kamal Hadley (Paterson Joseph). The series ran for two seasons from 2020 to 2022 and is streaming in the US on Peacock.

For Baxendale, the show was an eye-opening look at race in the UK. "I've obviously been aware of racism, but in truth I've not been affected by it at all," she told The Independent in April 2022. "As a white person, how much do you actually think about the consequences of it? The truth is that you just get on with your life. Being on the show has given me more of an appreciation of the oppressiveness of racism and how unjust society can be."