Indian-origin actor Kal Penn, whom you may know as one half of Harold & Kumar, a White House rep under President Barack Obama, and currently a recurring star on Designated Survivor, shared old script pages of roles offered to him on Twitter Wednesday. The catch: Most of these roles highlight Hollywood’s racist and narrow-minded approach to minority characters, in this case, Indians.
Penn shared images of the script pages which he’d saved over the years. It would seem like most of the roles he got offered around 10-15 years ago - everything from sidekicks on popular sitcoms to guest roles in other shows - were caricatures of Apu-like (a Simpsons character) Indian men instead of real characters.
He was often asked to do an exaggerated Indian accent for roles that ranged from snake charmers, fire-eaters and Gandhi lookalikes. Penn noted that while auditioning for a part in the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the (producers) were ‘such d***s’ about having him do an accent.
Here are his tweets
Found a bunch of old scripts from some of my first years trying to be an actor. pic.twitter.com/GydOwlUKGW— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) March 14, 2017
Jeez I remember this one! They were awful. "Can you make his accent a little more AUTHENTIC?" That usually meant they wanted Apu pic.twitter.com/3F5XRORO3n— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) March 14, 2017
This was a pilot called The Stones. Tried to convince them to let me speak without an accent & make it funny on the merits (was told no) 😂 pic.twitter.com/SuUVYT7rip— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) March 14, 2017
Womp womp pic.twitter.com/fyonwmreBa— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) March 14, 2017
Ha! In this audition for Smart Guy, they didn't even give the character a name! pic.twitter.com/z2D8E5rx8J— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) March 14, 2017
Oh wait yes they did pic.twitter.com/xwB3qIoXoF— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) March 14, 2017
Friggin King of Queens man! I used to love that show until I got to audition for it lol pic.twitter.com/2BYu0nnd57— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) March 14, 2017
I do not remember this audition except that it was for some shitty MTV show and the big joke was an accent and too much cologne 🙄😂 pic.twitter.com/7HZbhQCkaB— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) March 14, 2017
Whoa I remember this! This was one of my first commercials. The makeup people would use Vaseline to get the sweaty unwashed look going pic.twitter.com/X7z4EI4drQ— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) March 14, 2017
This was for some project called The Marriage Clause I guess. pic.twitter.com/0yKjepAHqy— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) March 14, 2017
Penn did however clarify that not all his early experiences finding work were like this. He mentioned other projects like 24 that showed respect to minority characters and helped pave the way for future actors.
There are too many in this stack to tweet, I'll be here all day. That said, there were also some wonderful 1st audition & work experiences!— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) March 14, 2017
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