Kal Penn: From White Coat to White House


            Tall, dark, and extremely hilarious! You may know him as Kumar from the Harold and Kumar franchise or Dr. Kutner from the television series House, but now the actor has turned in his white coat for the White House.

            Just this past Monday, actor Kal Penn, made a special visit to TCNJ’s campus and I was able to sit down with the actor-turned-activist to speak about his acting career and his time spent working with the Obama Administration. In the interview Kal Penn shared some of his favorite memories of growing up in New Jersey, paying tribute to the beloved shore, the farmer stands that employed him the summer after his freshmen year of college, and the extreme diversity of this wonderful state. 

            The biggest topic Penn addressed during his interview was what seemed like a career switch from acting to politics. He has taken on so many projects, leaving one to question how he does it all! Penn jokingly said that his friends would probably say that he is able to juggle every project he takes on but he is thankful that his two career pursuits are not mutually exclusive. He refers to his time in politics as a sabbatical rather than a career change. It was never a goal of his to have a serious career in politics; becoming involved in politics was something he wanted to do because to help the candidate, President Obama. The actor said he doesn’t see himself taking time off from acting to assist another candidate in the near future.

            But enough about politics; we didn’t end the interview before talking about his entertainment career. While an undergrad at UCLA, Penn studied film and sociology, and oddly enough he credits his degree in sociology for his ability to play very different characters. Kumar, for instance, was “more laid back and cool” then he is, said Kal.

             In the end Kal leaves us with this, “you can have your cake and eat it too,” despite the “bulls*** advice” he received from his high school guidance counselor who he attributes his success to because he was determined to prove her wrong. Hopefully this isn’t the last we will see of Kal Penn. Maybe we’ll be seeing him as Professor Penn in the future, but until that day comes we’ll have to settle with him being our TCNJ Campus Celebrity.