Kal Penn has broken through in his career over the past few years. Between Harold And Kumar, joining the Obama White House, and his long-running role on House, Penn has established himself. He isn’t a “that guy who was in that thing” and he’s really cut himself into some memorable roles, including his current show Designated Survivor. But it wasn’t always like that according to his Twitter feed today.
Penn pulled out a bunch of old scripts he received for auditions during the early days of his career and a few things stood out, mostly regarding racial stereotypes. There are a lot of Indian accents, snake charmers, fire-eaters, Gandhi look-alikes, and one Pakistani computer geek that Penn describes as having a “sweaty unwashed look” and style like Beck. There’s also a few notable shows in there like Sabrina The Teenage Witch — where Penn says they were “such dicks” over using an accent — The King of Queens, and Smart Guy from the Disney channel with that damn Taj Mowry:
It wasn’t all bad, though. Penn did list plenty of shows that didn’t treat his identity as a prop on the show, dropping some praise on Buffy The Vampire Slayer and The Steve Harvey Show. He also had a lot of good to say about his former job on House, noting that David Shore kept casting “color and gender blind.”
None of it is really surprising, especially if you’ve seen something like Master Of None where they devote an entire episode to it. But it does highlight the importance of that Aladdin casting call from last week and how studios need to be mindful of these aspects of the casting process. It has an effect on people.
(Via Entertainment Weekly)