Actor Kal Penn's Old Audition Scripts Expose Racism In Hollywood

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Actor Kal Penn's Old Audition Scripts Expose Racism In Hollywood

Indian-American actor Kal Penn posted his old audition scripts online, highlighting Hollywood typecasting

New Delhi:  Indian-American actor Kal Penn took to Twitter on Tuesday to share some of the blatantly racist audition scripts he had been given at the beginning of his career. He is best known to audiences in India for his roles in films like The Namesake, Harold & Kumar and the American television series House. In a series of tweets, Mr Penn shared how he was asked to try out for roles like a "Gandhi lookalike," "snake charmer" and "fire eater," saying that the survival of his fledgling acting career often meant auditioning for roles such as these.

Mr Penn tweeted he was often asked to speak with an "authentic" accent. "That usually meant they wanted Apu," he said, referring to the accent of the Simpsons character shared by far too many actors portraying South Asian characters on the big screen. "Tried to convince them to let me speak without an accent and make it funny on the merits," the actor tweeted. "Was told no."

Plenty of parts were unnamed, such as “foreign student” that required a strong accent to be played. When characters were lucky enough to have names, it was usually only to be the butt of jokes.
 
Actor Sendhil Ramamurthy, known for his roles in the American TV series Heroes and Bollywood film Shor In The City cheekily replied to one Mr Penn's tweets, saying: "I'm offended at the stereotypical characters and the fact my agent never got me an audition for any of these. Is that weird?"

"Everybody's got to start somewhere," tweeted AG Hadden. "I'm glad you didn't feel too above all that. Look at you now. Starring opposite Kiefer Sutherland," referring to Mr Penn's role in the TV series Designated Survivor.

"Wow! Typecasting much? Glad the casting folks at Designated Survivor are so much smarter," tweeted a fan.

"Will never forget you and John Cho in Harold & Kumar," tweeted Faheem Kabeer. "Was awesome seeing you crush Asian-American stereotypes for people like me."

Mr Penn shared his thoughts on the few TV shows that "didn't have to use external things to mask subpar writing," complimenting them for conducting "color- and gender-blind casting."
 
Mr Penn briefly took time off acting to serve in the White House under former US President Barack Obama. He has often spoken out on the issue of racism in Hollywood and elsewhere.

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