Kal Penn

Actor, Producer & Former White House Aide

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Kal Penn is not your typical actor. Intellectually curious and civic-minded, Penn has seamlessly transitioned from Hollywood to Academia to the White House and back again, pursuing complex roles on & off screen that often differ drastically from his own background.

About Kal Penn

Kal Penn is currently in production on the NBC/Universal comedy pilot Sunnyside, having just wrapped a third season on the acclaimed drama Designated Survivor, in which he stars opposite Kiefer Sutherland. The latter series premieres on Netflix in 2019. Penn is known for his starring roles in House, How I Met Your Mother, and, of course, the Harold and Kumar franchise. Other credits include the series New Girl, 24, Deadbeat and Battle Creek. He recently in appeared in a number of independent films including Sisterhood of Night, Outliving Emily, Dementemania, Stereotypically You and Mira Nair’s The Namesake, about which The New York Times called his lead role a “crackling, star-making performance.”

From 2009 to 2011, Penn took a sabbatical from acting and served as an Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, where he focused primarily on outreach to young Americans, including related issues such as the Affordable Care Act, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, college affordability, and veterans benefits for service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. He was a national co-chair for President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012, and served on the President’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities, focusing on arts education and cultural diplomacy.

Penn has taught courses at the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Originally from New Jersey, Penn received his undergraduate degree in Sociology, Theater, Film, and Television at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a graduate certificate in International Security from Stanford University.

Speech Topics

  • Less Partisanship, More Helping: How Young Americans Can Be Part of the Process
  • Images of Asian Americans in the Media

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