Kal Penn gets a starring gig in National Lampoon’s Van Wilder: The Rise Taj, which opens today, and he didn’t have to sue to get the role.
Penn made a name for himself in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, had a role in Superman Returns and will be a villian in next season’s 24 on TV.
As an Asian American actor, Penn’s gotten rare opportunities in Hollywood. A study by a UCLA professor says minority actors could have grounds to sue over studio casting practices.
“Casting directors take into account race and sex in a way that would be blatantly illegal in any other industry,” said study author Russell Robinson, UCLA acting professor of law.
It would be interesting to see the outcome if an actor were to sue. At the very least, it might be a wake up call to studios and producers in Hollywood.
Until that happens, there’s a ray of hope with Penn’s new movie. It’s bound to be a flick filled with alcohol induced, adolescent fun. If you’re into that, go see it. And even if you’re not, go see it. Short of a lawsuit, the box office may be the only way to send a message to the entertainment industry on how it needs to more inclusive of Asian Americans and other minority groups. Taj is a rare opportunity to send that message.
This post is also on Hyphen magazine’s blog.