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Kal Penn's Tweets Of Early Audition Scripts Reveal Hollywood's Casual Racism

Kal Penn, real name Kalpen Suresh Modi, is an actor of Indian origin and has featured in films like American Desi, Homeland Security, A Lot Like Love and the Harold And Kumar series of films

  | March 16, 2017 11:53 IST (New Delhi)
Kal Penn

Kal Penn in a still from Harold And Kumar

Highlights

  • 'Found a bunch of old scripts,' wrote Kal Penn
  • Kal Penn auditioned for shows like The King Of Queens
  • Mr Penn signed off saying: 'There are too many in this stack'
Actor Kal Penn, best known for his critically acclaimed performance in Mira Nair's 2007 film The Namesake, tweeted screenshots of scripts for roles he used to be asked to audition for - many of these were stereotypical characters described in casually racist terms - 'a Gandhi lookalike,' 'a foreign student' and 'a 25-year-old Pakistani computer geek.' Mr Penn, 39, is now a well-known actor and also briefly served as advisor to former POTUS Barack Obama. "Found a bunch of old scripts from some of my first years of trying to be an actor," tweeted Kal Penn, real name Kalpen Suresh Modi. Of Indian origin, the American actor has featured in films like American Desi, Homeland Security, A Lot Like Love and the Harold And Kumar series. He had a high profile role in the TV sitcom How I Met Your Mother and currently stars opposite Kiefer Sutherland in the show Designated Survivor.

Mr Penn's tweets reveal that for an early television pilot, he was asked to use an 'authentic' accent while auditioning for a character named Parmesh. Sharing the script, he wrote: "This was a pilot called The Stones. Tried to convince them to let me speak without an accent and make it funny on the merits (was told no)." For another role he auditioned for - a character named Careem - Mr Penn was also asked to use an accent. Mr Penn also auditioned for a role in The King Of Queens, a show he "loved" till he was asked to audition for a character named Sanjib - the name was made the butt of jokes.

Here are Kal Penn's tweets:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Mr Penn signed off his tweets describing some of his audition experiences as "wonderful". "There are too many in this stack to tweet, I'll be here all day. That said, there were also some wonderful first audition and work experiences," Mr Penn tweeted on Tuesday.

His tweets have renewed the discussion on racism and tokenism in Hollywood.
 
 

1998's short film Express: Aisle To Glory was Kal Penn's debut project as an actor. On the big screen, he was last seen in The Girl In The Photographs and will next star in Speech And Debate, scheduled to release in April.
 

 
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