The Big Bang at Behrend

Kunal Nayyar made a big bang in Junker Center at Penn State Behrend on October 8th when he came to kick off the school’s Speaker Series. (Yes, the pun was necessary…)

The Speaker Series is a unique Behrend event that hosts multiple well-known public figures throughout the year. Past guests have included Shawn Johnson and even Bill Nye The Science Guy. Kunal Nayyar, also known as Raj from the Emmy-award winning show The Big Bang Theory, was the first guest of the series this year.




The event was completely sold out; it was not only Behrend students, but other Erie locals attended as well. The room was filled with loving fans decked out in their “Bazinga!’ shirts eager to listen.

Nayyar’s speech focused on the path which led him to his current career. Nayyar came to America for college, originally pursuing business. He described his vision of American college as what he has seen in the movie American Pie. In his culture, pursuing an art was never really an option, but Nayyar ended up giving theater a try and ultimately finding the career of his dreams.

He originally explored acting just as a means to make friends, but he quickly found much more than that - he found his calling. Although apprehensive, he confessed his new found passion to his parents, and was ecstatic to discover their unwavering support.

In college, Nayyar participated in multiple plays and booked several small acting jobs. He ventured out to New York, which is where he heard about the part on The Big Bang Theory. The job was in LA, so Nayyar auditioned via a Mac computer. However, it wasn’t just any Mac. Nayyar had gone into the Apple Store and used a Mac there to audition, not one that he personally owned (gotta' love technology).

Because he was so passionate about acting, he was willing to go to great lengths to further his involvement in the field. The entire process for auditioning for Big Bang went extremely fast. He had signed an agent on Friday, auditioned on Monday, screen tested on Wednesday, and then found out he got the part! Considering the day that he received the job was the last day on his Visa, it was fate that Nayyar got the part. 



Nayyar gave the crowd insight into the srtuggles that he faced, but added humorous bits as well, which included him singing his signature “Soft Kitty” song. He told the audience, “I can see it in your eyes. You think all these decisions you’re making now are monumental, but I’m telling you they are not. So stop stressing out about making the wrong decisions. You’re going to make a lot of wrong decisions in your life. Trust me. It’s okay. That’s how you learn.” With his humbling story, Nayyar inspired  his listeners, but made sure to also add a reminder to have fun, live, and “treat yourself.”

Nayyar is still currently filming on The Big Bang Theory, and is also selling his new book Yes, My Accent is Real: And Some Other Things I Haven’t Told You. Nayyar was a great kick-off guest to have at Penn State Behrend, and “WE ARE” very happy to have had him.

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