He also praises ' House' creator David Shore (Penn played Dr. Lawrence Kutner in the show for six seasons) for casting "largely colour and gender blind", pointing out that the ratings certainly didn't suffer for it.
The characters available to Penn were painstakingly stereotypical, including a "Gandhi lookalike", a "quirky, Indian lab buddy" whose "language is peppered with Indian cultural references" and "Careem" with "a slight Hindi accent". He is now playing the role of a speech writer in political drama "Designated Survivor".
On Tuesday, actor Kal Penn took to Twitter to share some of the offensive audition scripts he was given at the beginning of his career. Penn captioned the scripts by recounting fights over accents-"Can you make his accent a little more AUTHENTIC?"-and general stereotyping". "That usually meant they wanted Apu [from The Simpsons]", he said. It was for a pilot called "The Stones", according to Penn.
In a much-talked-about episode of his show Master of None, comedian Aziz Ansari's character does not get a callback for the role of an "Unnamed Cab Driver" after refusing to fake an Indian accent-a stance the actor and writer has taken in real life.
"Tried to convince them to let me speak without an accent & make it amusing on the merits (was told no)", Penn wrote. "We got INTO it about why he had to have an accent", he wrote. "I'm laughing about it now but they were such dicks".
Penn's auditions appear to be for bit roles, but some actors have complained that even meatier roles come with the baggage of stereotypes.
All of those series noted by Penn ran in the late '90s and early '00s.
The actor did note that he had some "wonderful" experiences on projects like The Steve Harvey Show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and 24.
Penn has used his platform to shine light on the otherization of people of color before, famously raising more than $800,000 in January for Syrian refugees after receiving racist abuse from an Instagram troll.