Actor Kalpen Suresh Modi, who goes by Kal Penn, has had a number of prominent roles: as Lawrence Kutner on “House,” Kumar in the “Harold and Kumar” series, as Nikhil “Gogol” Ganguli in “The Namesake,” as a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania’s Cinema Studies Program, and a position in the Obama White House as the Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
Right now, he’s a star on ABC’s “Designated Survivor,” where he plays White House Press Secretary Seth Wright. He also uses his experience from his time in the White House to act as a consultant to the show.
Of course, Penn didn’t always have the name recognition and fame he enjoys today, and he’s been posting some of his (least favorite) old scripts and casting calls from the beginning of his acting career for shows you probably recognize.
He uses the old scripts to demonstrate how racist and insensitive remarks are still common in Hollywood. Penn was born in New Jersey to parents who immigrated from India. He’s as American as the rest of us, but there are times when his character wasn’t even given a name, or was written as a walking Indian stereotype.
He concluded by offering that shows that weren’t as explicitly cast along race and gender lines often do as well or better, offering “House” as an example.