Kal Penn Roasts Hollywood By Tweeting All the Racist Crap He’s Dealt With
Actor Kal Penn took to Twitter on Tuesday to reveal that he was typecast to play offensive roles including a “Gandhi lookalike” in the beginning of his career.
“Found a bunch of old scripts from some of my first years trying to be an actor,” the 39-year-old actor, whose parents are of Indian descent, shared in a series of of tweets. “They were awful. ‘Can you make his accent a little more AUTHENTIC?’ That usually meant they wanted Apu.”
The post was accompanied by a script for a character named “Careem,” who was supposed to have a “slight Hindi accent.”
And Apu, as fans of “The Simpsons” may know, is the store clerk/owner of the fictional convenience store Kwik-E-Mart.
Another script, this time for a show called “The Stones,” a character named “Parmesh,” was supposed to be a “quirky, Indian lab buddy” who spoke in a language “peppered with Indian cultural references.”
“Tried to convince them to let me speak without an accent & make it funny on the merits (was told no),” Penn wrote.
The “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” star also mentioned a script for a commercial in which make-up artists used Vaseline on him to create a “sweaty unwashed look” of a “Pakistani computer geek.”
Penn pointed out that many of the characters he auditioned for didn’t even have names or were mocked for having foreign names in shows like “Smart Guy” and “King of Queens.”
He was also offered a part on “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” as Prajeeb.
“Sabrina the Teenage Witch! Man. We got INTO it about why he had to have an accent,” Penn tweeted. “I’m laughing about it now but they were such dicks.”
Penn, who took a brief hiatus from Hollywood to join the Obama administration as associate director of the White House Office of Public Liaison, did commend shows “didn’t have to use external things to mask subpar writing,” including “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “24.”
He also starred in the medical drama “House” from 2007-2009, and praised creator David Shore for casting “largely color & gender blind.”
Penn, who currently stars in ABC’s “Designated Survivor,” isn’t the first actor to blast Hollywood for racial typecasting.
In 2016, “The Night Of” star Riz Ahmed wrote an essay published in a book titled “The Good Immigrant,” in which he compares the incidents of getting hassled by airport security to movie auditions where he is typecast as a terrorist.
Aziz Ansari, comedian and creator of Netflix’s “Master of None,” explained in a 2015 New York Times essay that he is still offered roles that are “often defined by ethnicity and often require accents,” according to the Huffington Post.
Feature Image via Flickr / Neon Tommy
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