Are you ready to feel really, really old? As of this writing, the one-of-a-kind sitcom Friends has been off the air for 14 years. This also means Ross Geller (David Schwimmer) and Rachel Green’s (Jennifer Aniston) "tiny" baby is not so tiny anymore. If the show were still on the air, Emma Geller-Green — and likewise the identical twin actresses who played her — would be 16 years old.
While Hollywood still keeps tabs on Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, and the rest of the Friends gang, Noelle and Cali Sheldon have drifted into relative obscurity after their role as Emma concluded. In many ways, their lives continued on as if they weren’t part of the ever-popular television show. This is quite a feat since there are actually more viewers of the syndicated reruns than there were of the original series — by a lot. Today reported that 15 million viewers tuned in for each season of Friends, but now — thanks in large part to Netflix — the show draws in 16 million weekly viewers.
It’s due time we catch up with the artists formerly known as Emma.
They "don’t remember anything about being on the show"
What is your earliest memory? If you’re like most people, you probably can’t think of any one thing prior to your third birthday. By the time Friends ended, Noelle and Cali weren’t yet two years old. While they obviously know they played Emma on one of the most popular TV shows of all time, Noelle and Cali are unfortunately unable to reminisce about what it was like to star in Friends.
"I don’t remember anything about being on the show, but I’ve seen the pictures," Cali said in an interview with Bustle. While the girls themselves don’t have any memories of their time on the sitcom, their mom, Gretchen Carpenter, does.
"Everyone was really, really nice to Noelle and Cali, and treated them like little princesses on the set," Carpenter told Bustle, "[Friends] filmed before a live audience, and Cali and Noelle would come out, and they would be waving and engaging with the live audience."
They weren’t allowed to watch "Friends" until they were older
Friends was a relatively mild show, but that’s not to say it didn’t have adult storylines. The main characters were six 20-somethings living in New York City, after all. Some wild antics were bound to ensue. As such, Carpenter didn’t let her young girls watch the show.
At 12 years old, Cali told Entertainment Tonight, "We’ve seen one full episode, which was ‘The One Where Rachel’s Sister Babysits.’" As Noelle and Cali are prominent in that episode, it was certainly a good place for the tweens to start. Plus, Christina Applegate plays Rachel’s sister — and does so hilariously.
Cali further explained why they’ve only seen one episode, saying, "My mom said we can watch them when we’re 13." At the time, the twin sisters were already planning for a Netflix binge-watching session a few days after their thirteenth birthday. Noelle joked, "24 hour Friends marathon!" Friends binges are essentially a rite of passage — whether you were on the show or not.
"Life" after "Friends"
When Friends ended and their role of Emma was no more, the Sheldon sisters took two years off before starring in their next role. Already looking quite a bit older, Noelle and Cali landed a part in the rated-R film Novel Romance playing yet another child named Emma. The movie did not have the sort of far-reaching success of Friends and, by 2007, the girls returned to the small screen.
With the persona of Emma far behind them, Noelle and Cali played the part of Darcy Gibney in a TV series called Life. Unlike their two-season run on Friends, the twin sisters only starred in the new series’ pilot. Life went on without them, ending in 2009 after a total of 32 episodes.
The child actors stepped away from acting for years before returning in 2012 to star in a variety of short films. Although their last gig was in 2016, you never know if they’ll pop up in Hollywood again.
Acting was never their "top priority"
As child actors living in the epicenter of show business — Los Angeles, California — you’d have to imagine it would be hard to stay grounded. Especially after starring in a high-caliber show like Friends. However, Noelle and Cali are far from jaded. "Our girls go to a normal school, and they go on auditions once in a while, but we don’t make it our top priority," Carpenter told Bustle.
Unlike other child stars, Carpenter said her children’s careers "happened organically." She acknowledged that they didn’t make a determined effort to prevent acting from taking over their lives. "But had it ever gotten to that point," Carpenter admitted, "we probably would have."
With the wisdom of a person well beyond her years, Cali filled Bustle in on her mindset behind acting and auditioning, saying, "I’m not very competitive because you usually don’t get the roles, and if you do, it’s cool, but if you don’t it’s nothing to be sad about, because the person who got it is going to do great."
Cali doesn’t want to stay an actress forever
Although the Sheldon "twinnies" started working much earlier than the rest of us, acting isn’t actually their end goal. Cali, for instance, has an incredibly specific career in mind, which just goes to show how seriously awesome these two are.
In an interview with Bustle, Cali laid her plans out on the table. "First I want to go to UCLA and get a degree in biochemistry," the then-12-year-old girl explained. Umm, wow — just wow. With that degree, Cali hopes to become a chemist in order that she may, one day, cure cancer. But she doesn’t end there.
She continued, saying, "Then I want to petition for women to be allowed into a football league." Yeah, girl! And, after that is all said and done, Cali isn’t going to just take it easy and reflect on all her hard work. Instead, she said she will then go on to "write a book." Maybe it’s a little late for us, but don’t you want to be Cali when you grow up?
Noelle’s dream job may sound familiar
While Cali wants to be a biochemist, football player, and author, Noelle has set her sights on something very different — and in some ways it feels inspired by her time as Emma on Friends. Or perhaps inspired by Rachel Green’s job at Central Perk.
"I want to be a barista when I’m 18," Noelle admitted to Bustle. It almost feels too perfect, doesn’t it? We’re sure Rachel would be so proud. We can only hope that she won’t have a boss like Gunther.
While Noelle’s sister may have her entire career trajectory mapped out, Noelle seems cool with taking some time to figure it all out. Much like Rachel, Noelle doesn’t foresee staying a barista forever, but admitted to Bustle, "I don’t know what else after that." No matter what she chooses, success is sure to follow. Though, might we suggest a career in fashion?
They are "built in best friends"
According to Maureen Healy, the author of Growing Happy Kids and an expert on sensitive children, twins have a unique relationship. In an interview with Romper, she said, "Twins tend to be closer than typical siblings — they share a bond that is oftentimes unexplainable." Although the exact reason for this is unknown, many feel genetics are responsible. As identical twins share the same DNA, it certainly make sense.
The twins who played Emma are no exception. Noelle and Cali are definitely twins that share that sort of bond. On the girls’ sixteenth birthday, Cali posted a photo of her sister to Instagram and wished her a happy birthday. Cali also gave her identical sister not one, not two, but five amazing titles including "my built in best friend," "my soul mate," and "bestie." Now those are some sibling goals right there.
Noelle commented back to her sister on the social media platform, writing, "Happy birthday twinnie."
Both girls love their sports
Noelle and Cali have different ideas when it comes to careers, but both young women share a similar passion for sports — all sorts of sports. When they were younger, both girls were into softball and Cali had an additional interest in basketball. As they became teenagers, their interests began to change, but they still stayed very much involved in athletics.
In winter 2018, Cali shared photos on Instagram of the Mira Costa Wrestling Team, confirming that she’s now a member of a girls’ wrestling team. Cali and Noelle are also into winter sports. While Cali has shared a photo of herself ice-skating, Noelle has shared a picture of herself snowboarding with the caption: "Elevation: 8,440 feet."
Upping the ante, Noelle and Cali even visited Zion National Park in 2017 where they got to try out rappelling in a canyon. Needless to say, these 16 year olds are avid adventurers.
They’ll never forget Emma
Like all the characters of Friends, baby Emma is firmly cemented into pop culture and will not be forgotten. While Noelle and Cali Sheldon may not exactly remember playing the role of Ross and Rachel’s child, Emma will always be a part of their lives. Some former child actors may wish to forget the parts that first made them famous, but that’s not the case for the Sheldon sisters. Instead of forgetting, the girls actively try to remember.
Noelle shared a picture of her and her sister sitting on the iconic Central Perk couch at Warner Bros Studios, captioning the photo with an ode to Friends‘ episode titles: "The one where Emma got cloned." Noelle and Cali also posed in front of the Central Perk sign for a quick picture, which Cali later posted on Instagram with the caption: "Flashbacks to ’03." Fans were excited to see baby Emma all grown up — times two — with one commenter writing, "Now, my life is complete." Pretty much.