Kal Penn

Photo of Kal PennKal Penn is an actor, writer, producer and former Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. He is known for his starring roles in “Designated Survivor,” “House,” Mira Nair’s “The Namesake,” the “Harold & Kumar” franchise, and the patriotic immigration sitcom “Sunnyside” which he co-created for NBC.

Originally from New Jersey, Penn received his undergraduate degree in sociology, theater, film and television at the University of California, Los Angeles, and received a graduate certificate in international security from Stanford University. He has taught courses at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Los Angeles.

From 2009 to 2011, Penn took a sabbatical from acting to serve in the Obama/Biden administration, where he served as the President’s Liaison to Young Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the Arts community. In these roles, he worked on a range of issues, including the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Affordable Care Act, Pell Grants, arts and culture programs, the DREAM Act, and rapid response to the BP Oil Spill and earthquake in Haiti.

A national co-chair for the Obama/Biden re-election campaign in 2012, Penn served on the President’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities, focusing on arts and education and cultural diplomacy, including the first-ever U.S. Government arts delegation to Cuba. He has been a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Photo of Kal Penn's Biography

Penn recently wrapped production on the CBS Drama, “Clarice” – based on “Silence of the Lambs – and Freeform’s late night youth election format show “Kal Penn Approves This Message.” He currently stars in the animated Disney Junior series “Mira, Royal Detective,” is an Executive Producer on the Viacom/Paramount+ comedy “Surina and Mel,” and can be heard in Nickelodeon’s “It’s Pony.” His culinary competition series “Money Hungry” airs on Food Network.

Penn’s first book “You Can’t Be Serious” was released on November 2, 2021 from Simon and Schuster/Gallery Books. He also narrates the audiobook.

Last Modified: 8/4/23