Kal Penn Highlights Hollywood Bias by Sharing "Awful" Character Descriptions from Early Audition Scripts

Kal Penn Highlights Hollywood Bias by Sharing "Awful" Character Descriptions from Early Audition Scripts

Kal Penn highlighted the rampant bias in Hollywood casting yesterday by sharing excerpts of stereotypical Indian character descriptions in his early audition scripts.

Penn, best known for his roles in House and Harold & Kumar, posted shots of scripts that called for a "Gandhi lookalike" and a "Pakistani computer geek...in a perpetual state of perspiration."

Penn also recalled several occasions of pushing back against having to use over-the-top and unnecessary Hindu accents and being asked to make an accent "more authentic." "That usually meant they wanted Apu [from The Simpsons]," he said.

Penn noted that some shows were better to work for than others, but still said that if he posted every problematic script he had, he'd be on Twitter all day.

Penn has used his platform to shine light on the otherization of people of color before, famously raising more than $800,000 in January for Syrian refugees after receiving racist abuse from an Instagram troll. "To the dude who said I don't belong in America, I started a fundraising page for Syrian refugees in your name," he wrote on Twitter at the time.

He's also the latest actor to speak out against biased casting in Hollywood. Pakistani-American actor Kumail Nanjiani of Silicon Valleyrecently told Vulture, "For brown guys, we're still in the phase where we're stereotyped as either nerdy dudes or terrorists, and I think we're transitioning out of it, hopefully."

Conversation around limited roles for Asian-American actors has also been brewing lately, with comedian Margaret Cho posting an email conversation with Tilda Swinton over her role as the Ancient One in Doctor Strange,backlash against the casting of Scarlett Johansson in the Japanese manga classic Ghost in the Shell and Matt Damon in Great Wall, and last year's viral Internet campaign #StarringJohnCho, which creatively reimagined popular films with John Cho as the leading man.

[h/t The Guardian]

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