Acclaimed actor, writer, and producer, Kal Penn, is set to host the joint 2021 Writers Guild Awards virtual ceremony on Sunday, March 21.
The Writers Guild Awards honor outstanding writing in film, television, new media, news (broadcast and digital), radio/audio, and promotional categories. Many of the nominees give us a clue as to what will get nominated for an Oscar.
Penn is known for his memorable starring roles in the Harold and Kumar franchise, House, Designated Survivor, and Sunnyside, which he co-created and co-wrote with Matt Murray for NBC-Universal and Hulu. He can currently be seen in the CBS Drama Clarice, based on Silence of the Lambs and Disney Junior’s Mira, Royal Detective.
He has also appeared in independent films, most notably Mira Nair’s adaptation of Pulitzer-winner Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel The Namesake, about which The New York Timescalled his lead role a “crackling, star-making performance.”
ALSO READ: Annie Awards announce 2021 nominations
Penn has maintained simultaneous careers in both entertainment and public service. A campaign organizer andadvocate, he was an Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement from 2009 to 2011, where he served as the President’s liaison to Young Americans, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, and the Arts community.
Penn is also a staunch supporter of trade unions: In September 2020, he leveraged his role as creator and host of Freeform’s politically-themed comedy/variety talk series Kal Penn Approves This Message in order to ensure that the show and its writers would be covered under the Writers Guild Minimum Basic Agreement.
“It was important to me that the sketches in which I wear a judge’s robe and rap with a blue puppet in a hot tub were union,” Penn added.
In addition to roles on Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, New Girl, 24, and Law & Order: SVU, Penn has taught courses on film, media, and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Originally from New Jersey, Penn received his BA in Sociology with a specialization in Theater, Film, and Television from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a graduate certificate in International Security from Stanford University.