On Tuesday, actor Kal Penn started tweeting out old scripts from his early days breaking out as an actor. Aww, throwback! And it's not even Thursday! Except, things get fucked up. Fast. In the thread of 14 tweets, Penn shares a selection of different roles he was offered, and each one is somehow more offensive than the last. With just a few honest screenshots on Twitter, Penn has opened up Pandora's box when it comes to writing and casting minority characters for television shows and movies.
The 39-year-old had his first on-screen role in 1998 and has been acting ever since. But to say he found respectable roles easily would be a gross exaggeration. Every shade of Asian stereotype is represented. And he actually did suck it up and audition for many of the parts. (This should remind you of a certain episode from Master of None.) You're going to need to buckle yourself up for this one because it's about to be a bumpy and offensive ride. The scripts range from Sabrina the Teenage Witch to King of Queens to a flopped Jenji Kohan series. Ready, y'all?
He started by introducing what he was about to unleash: "Found a bunch of old scripts from some of my first years trying to be an actor." Yes, this one is asking for a "Gandhi lookalike." (I guess Ben Kingsley was busy.)
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
Then he started adding the commentary and feedback he received during the audition.
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
The next one was the description of an "Indian lab buddy" for The Stones. The CBS series was cancelled after only three episodes.
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
In one role, his character wasn't even given a name.
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
Here's a part from King of Queens, a show he admittedly loved until he read this.
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
Ok and this one is just weird.
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 one hurts. Remember Sabrina the Teenage Witch? Yep — awful
Sabrina the Teenage Witch! Man. We got INTO it about why he had to have an accent. I'm laughing about it now but they were such dicks 😂 pic.twitter.com/kXdHjVsqvT— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) March 14, 2017
In the end, Penn kept it real, giving a shout-out to his latest role on Designated Survivor. A part he's clearly (finally) proud to play.
Anyway getting off my soapbox & going to work. New Designated Survivor this week! Thanks for the love over the years 👍🏽😍😜— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) March 14, 2017
Alyssa Milano also chimed in after the fact.
But really — It's 2017. Let's read these, change the norm, and not be so lazy when writing diverse roles for all types of actors. Sound good?
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