March 05, 2015

Kal Penn

Host of The Big Picture... With Kal Penn

"We're revealing connections and taking a journey through the ways in which the bigger picture affects the real world, throughout history, across societies and into our hearts and brains." – Kal Penn

Kal Penn is known for his starring roles in “House,” “How I Met Your Mother,” and, of course, the “Harold and Kumar” franchise, among others. Originally from New Jersey, Penn received his undergraduate degree in sociology, theater, film and television at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a graduate certificate in international security from Stanford University.

Having most recently hosted the Discovery Channel’s “The Big Brain Theory,” a competition to find the nation's brightest engineer, Penn stars in the CBS drama “Battle Creek” for Vince Gilligan and David Shore, which premiered March 1. He recently wrapped up production on a number of independent films, including “Sisterhood of Night,” “Outliving Emily,” “Dementemania” and “Stereotypically You.”

From 2009 to 2011, Penn took a sabbatical from acting, and served as an associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, where he focused primarily on outreach related to young Americans, including related issues such as the Affordable Care Act, repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and veterans benefits for service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. 

On the big screen, Penn has starred in various independent films and blockbusters. The New York Times called his lead role in Mira Nair's “The Namesake” a “crackling, star-making performance.” Penn also has taught courses at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Follow Kal Penn @kalpenn.

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