The Twins Who Played Emma On Friends Have Grown Up To Be Gorgeous

Are you ready to feel really, really old? Well, Emma from "Friends" is officially all grown up. Yes, we're talking about Ross and Rachel's baby — you know, the one who likes Sir Mix-A-Lot and won a baby beauty pageant? 

Emma was played by two people, twins Cali and Noelle Sheldon, when they were just one year old. And on June 17, 2023, the sisters celebrated a milestone birthday — they're 21! Although both girls have taken a few breaks from acting over the years, they never really put Hollywood behind them. However, acting isn't the only thing they've been up to — they are also set to graduate from college in 2024. And if that doesn't make you feel old, we don't know what will.

Let's take a look at what the iconic twins have been up to since they almost moved to Paris with Rachel all the way back in 2004.

They don't remember anything about being on Friends

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, Gretchen 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'd only seen that 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 13th 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" — ironically playing yet another child named Emma. The movie did not have the sort of far-reaching success like "Friends," and by 2007, the girls had 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. 

Acting was not necessarily 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," their mom told Bustle in 2015.

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," Gretchen 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 at the time, 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 didn't want to stay an actor forever

Although the Sheldon "twinnies" started working much earlier than the rest of us, acting doesn't seem to be their end goal. Back in 2015, Cali had an incredibly specific career goal in mind, which just goes to show how seriously awesome these two are.

In an interview with Bustle at the timeCali 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. Um, wow — just wow. With that degree, Cali said she hoped to become a chemist in order that she may, one day, cure cancer. But she didn'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 wasn't planning 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 set her sights on emulating her onscreen mom

While Cali said she hoped to be a biochemist, football player, and author, Noelle set her sights on something very different and, as Bustle pointed out, it certainly seemed to be inspired by Rachel Green's job at Central Perk. "I want to be a barista when I'm 18," then-12-year-old 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, Cali, may have had her entire career trajectory mapped out before she was a teenager, Noelle seemed cool with taking some time to figure it all out. Much like Rachel, Noelle doesn't foresee staying a barista forever. However, she admitted to Bustle, "I don't know what else after that." Of course, she would have plenty of time to decide what kind of career she wanted to pursue.

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 makes sense.

The twins who played Emma are no exception. Noelle and Cali are definitely sisters that share that sort of bond. On the girls' 16th 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 sisters love their sports

Noelle and Cali Sheldon may 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 was a member of the girls' wrestling team. Cali and Noelle are also into winter sports. While Cali has shared a photo of herself ice-skating, Noelle has confirmed she snowboards.

Upping the ante, Noelle and Cali even visited Zion National Park together back in 2017, where they each got to try out rappelling into a canyon. Needless to say, these avid adventurers are not afraid of the great outdoors.

They'll never forget Emma

Like all the characters in "Friends," baby Emma is firmly cemented into pop culture and will never 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 these two. Actually, instead of forgetting, the girls actively try to remember. 

In 2017, 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 the show's 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."

The twins starred in Us in 2019

After several years without any acting work, Noelle and Cali Sheldon landed their arguably biggest roles to date in Jordan Peele's 2019 horror film "Us," playing the twin daughters of Elisabeth Moss's character. If you've seen the film, you know that the pair end up getting a little creepy! 

"We each played two characters," Noelle to Access Hollywood. "I was Lindsey and Nix and Cali was Becca and Io," explained. "So basically we were bratty twin teenagers and then psycho murderer monsters." In an interview on the red carpet for the film's premiere, the twins gushed about the film. "We are so excited, this is, like, an amazing movie, obviously, it has an amazing message, obviously so to be able to be a part of is really special," Cali revealed. Clearly, this film marked a big moment for these two twins — and here's hoping it leads to more roles in the years to come.

Cali and Noelle Sheldon both attend college at UCLA

Shortly before Cali and Noelle Sheldon graduated from high school, they told Access Hollywood that while they hoped to keep acting, they planned to go to college. "We're seniors in high school, so we're pretty busy," Cali said at the time. "We're applying to colleges and I'm doing Model UN and I'm on the girls' wrestling team at my school."

According to both of their Instagram profiles, Cali and Noelle have since enrolled at the University of California and are set to graduate in 2024. That's right, Cali's dream of going to UCLA came true! And by the looks of things, they are both proud to be students at the school. In 2020, Cali shared a picture on Instagram of her and her sister both wearing UCLA sweatshirts, writing, "Go Bruins!" In 2021, Noelle posted a series of Instagram photos showing her with her UCLA friends, with the caption, "Girls go to college to get more knowledge!!!" In 2023, Noelle shared another series of photos showing her and her college friends spending spring break in Cabo.

Cali Sheldon spent a summer teaching in Tanzania

In 2022, Cali Sheldon spent her summer volunteering with the Alhaji organization as an English teacher at a school in Tanzania, Africa. "Spending the summer teaching at a school in Arusha, Tanzania with over 40 kids in one classroom," she captioned a series of photos on Instagram. Cali went on to explain that the organization was fundraising to build a second school in the city. "The kids here are so, so happy to learn and so excited for school every day," she wrote. Cali encouraged followers to donate for the cause.

Cali's GoFundMe shared a little more detail about her time Arusha. "I'll be volunteering at the school with several other volunteers for 7 weeks — they have volunteers year-round and we see firsthand how sweet, loving, and excited to learn these kids are," she wrote in July 2022. "When we went to the school, they all screamed with excitement and were all incredibly eager to volunteer to come up to the blackboard and participate."

This wasn't the first time Cali volunteered for a good cause, though. In 2019, she shared on Instagram, "After two years of fundraising, my friends and I travelled to Tzujil, Guatemala and got to help in the construction of a school which will provide an education to THOUSANDS of children in the years to come."

Noelle and Cali picked different majors but share similar interests

While both Cali and Noelle Sheldon have expressed an interest in continuing their acting work, they both put their focus into school.

While Cali enjoys writing and is studying communications, Noelle is studying psychobiology. However, Noelle has also pursued an interest in writing and working behind the camera. In fact, while at UCLA, she began writing and directing her own films. "Directorial debut with 2 short films I wrote and directed this weekend!!" she wrote on Instagram in May 2022. The two short films, "The Cure to Loneliness" and "Goose Chase" were both made in association with FPS Productions, UCLA's film production company, and can be viewed on YouTube.

"The Cure to Loneliness" follows a young woman who, while deciding whether or not to break up with her boyfriend, finds a pill that promises to cure loneliness. "Goose Chase" features a simple game of spin the bottle that goes wrong when a cult gets involved. Maybe the next time we see Cali and her sister onscreen, they'll be starring in one of Noelle's films.