Kumar Goes to Washington

kal_pennActor Kal Penn, mostly known for his role as Kumar in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, and more recently known for his re-occuring role as Dr. Lawrence Kutner on Fox’s hit show House, will be taking a break from acting and will be heading to Washington, D.C. to be a part of the Obama administration. Entertainment Weekly broke the news first as to Penn’s new role in an exclusive interview:

“Yes. I was incredibly honored a couple of months ago to get the opportunity to go work in the White House. I got to know the President and some of the staff during the campaign and had expressed interest in working there, so I’m going to be the associate director in the White House office of public liaison. They do outreach with the American public and with different organizations. They’re basically the front door of the White House. They take out all of the red tape that falls between the general public and the White House. It’s similar to what I was doing on the campaign.”

In his role, Penn will essentially be an “emissary” to the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities, along with arts and entertainment groups. It really isn’t a big departure for Penn if you’ve followed his involvement in Obama’s 2008 election campaign; Penn was an active, vocal volunteer, often appearing on talk shows like Larry King Live and traveling the country. Do a simple search on YouTube for “Kal Penn Obama”, and you will find a large collection of videos of Penn on the campaign trail. This isn’t Penn’s departure from acting — last year, Penn was a guest lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania for an Asian American Studies course titled, “Images of Asian Americans in the Media.”

I think it’s fantastic that a relatively high profile Asian American actor such as Penn can make a career move into public office. I’ve lamented that there has been a real lack of civic involvement by Asian Americans – something that I always notice when I’ve volunteered during election campaigns. With the Obama administration having cabinet members such as General Eric Shinseki for Veteran Affairs and Dr. Steven Chu for Secretary of Energy, I look forward to Kal Penn actively engaging the Asian American community as part of his role as associate director. I’m sure this news makes The Daily Show‘s Aasif Mandvi happy as he follows “the great Asian cabinet race.”

(Source image: Wikipedia – Kal Penn)

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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