Kal Penn Posts Scripts to Call Out Racist Casting Tendencies in Hollywood

March 14th 2017

Almie Rose

Actor Kal Penn recently wrote a series of tweets highlighting racism in Hollywood — by using the industry's own words against it.

Kal Penn

The "Designated Survivor" star, who portrays a White House press secretary named Seth Wright in the show, tweeted a series of photos from portions of a various old scripts he once read at different auditions from the beginning of his career.

He wrote that he found each had one thing in common: racial and ethnic stereotypes.

"There are too many in this stack to tweet," he then wrote in another tweet, before adding, "I'll be here all day. That said, there were also some wonderful 1st audition & work experiences!"

The former "Harold & Kumar" star then pointed out that television show "House" did "largely color & gender blind" casting, meaning the roles weren't racially, ethnically, or gender specific but are open to all actors, and how it helped make the show a success.

Unfortunately, Penn is far from alone in his experience.

In fact, his "Harold and Kumar" co-star John Cho, also said he dealt with issues of racism in Hollywood casting, telling The Washington Post in 2014, "I experienced racism." In May 2016, Cho became the focus of social media hashtag — #StarringJohnCho — that re-imagined the Korean-American actor as a leading man in films that had nothing to do with race, like the "James Bond" franchise.

"I’ve been talking and thinking a lot about diversity in various forms. But it’s all good. It’s about starting a conversation and I really appreciated the #StarringJohnCho thing in the sense that it was such a beautiful, simple, clever way to get people talking about that issue. It seemed to do it in a way that, traditionally, we couldn’t really get people to seriously think about it," Cho told ATTN: in July.

"I’m sure there are more non-Asian names than Asian names on the character side of [my IMDB] page," he continued, "which I feel mixed about, because it is indicative of the porosity of roles for Asian Americans. By necessity, I’m playing mostly roles that weren’t written for Asians."

In Penn's case, he was auditioning for roles that were written for Indians, but he was still directed to "make his accent a little more AUTHENTIC," which could come across as being a caricature of a real person like cartoon character Apu from "The Simpsons," as Penn pointed out.

"Anyway getting off my soapbox & going to work," Penn concluded. "New Designated Survivor this week! Thanks for the love over the years."