'You Can't Be Serious': A Conversation With Kal PennVIEW EVENT DETAILS
An Underdog in Hollywood and Washington
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Thursday , January 13, 2022
6 p.m. Registration
6:30 p.m. Program
7:15 p.m. Audience Q&A
Books preordered through Asia Society Texas by Tuesday, January 11, will receive personalized autographs from Kal Penn, and will be available for pick-up at the event. Books will also be available for purchase at the event. There will be no on-site book signing.
Health and Safety Requirements
Known best as the star of the Harold and Kumar franchise, House, and Designated Survivor, Kal Penn’s life has taken him on what he considers a surprising journey. In his recent memoir, You Can’t Be Serious, Kal shares a series of funny, consequential, awkward, and ridiculous stories from his colorful life, including growing up with immigrant parents and how he rejected doing “something practical” to become an actor, confronting racism in Hollywood, meeting his future husband, and working in the Obama administration as a White House aide. His experience reflects an ongoing conversation in society about what it means to be Asian American in the U.S., and what representation looks like – both on screen and in public office.
Asia Society Texas is delighted to welcome Kal Penn to speak about the breadth of his life journey, with experiences ranging from New Jersey to Hollywood, and everywhere in between.
About the Speaker
Kal 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 sit-com Sunnyside which he co-created for NBC.
From 2009 to 2011, Kal 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.
He was a national co-chair for the Obama/Biden 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. Originally from New Jersey, he 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.
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 & Mel, and can be heard in Nickelodeon’s It’s Pony.
His culinary competition series Money Hungry airs on Food Network.
About the Moderator
ABC’s award-winning journalist Melanie Lawson currently serves as co-anchor of Live at 5, and Channel 13's midday show, Eyewitness News at 11am. Melanie has covered virtually every city, state, and national election during her career. She has traveled to Cuba, Panama, and Africa, among other places. She has won numerous awards for her reporting, including an Emmy for her coverage of President Clinton's visit to South Africa, the only local reporter in the nation to make that trip. Melanie has interviewed a wide range of notables, including three U.S. Presidents, Henry Kissinger, the Dalai Lama, poet Maya Angelou, Grammy Award winners Destiny's Child, and former heavyweight champion boxer George Foreman, among many others. She received her undergraduate degree in Politics from Princeton University, and a joint degree in Law and Journalism from Columbia University. She is admitted to both the Texas and New York State Bars.
Asia Society hosts today's leading voices, providing commentary on events in news, society, and culture. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect Asia Society views.
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Business and Policy programs at Asia Society Texas are presented by Bank of America, Muffet Blake, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and United Airlines. Major support comes from Nancy C. Allen, Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, Nancy Pollok Guinee, and Mary Lawrence Porter, as well as The Brown Foundation, Inc. and Houston Endowment. Additional funding is provided by the Friends of Asia Society Texas Center, a dedicated group of individuals and organizations committed to bringing the best in public programming.
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About Asia Society Texas
Asia Society Texas believes in the strength and beauty of diverse perspectives and people. As an educational institution, we advance cultural exchange by celebrating the vibrant diversity of Asia, inspiring empathy, and fostering a better understanding of our interconnected world. Spanning the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, our programming is rooted in the educational and cultural development of our community — trusting in the power of art, dialogue, and ideas to combat bias and build a more inclusive society.