CORNING | The Rockwell Museum is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and as part of the celebration it’s bringing in actor, producer and civil servant Kal Penn to Corning next week for a special presentation at the Corning Museum of Glass.
“This is the biggest caliber speaker we’ve ever brought to the area,” Rockwell’s Programs and Events Manager Brett Smith said.
“It’s just a really interesting perspective,” he said. “We were drawn to this artist that decided to serve their community, and kind of take a step out of their Hollywood career.”
Many know Penn as Kumar in the popular stoner comedy series “Harold and Kumar” - Penn’s breakout role about two friends who journey to White Castle to satisfy a bad case of the munchies in the first installment, “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle,” and find themselves in other predicaments throughout two sequels.
His early career saw him star in several lighthearted comedy roles. He took on more serious, prominent performances throughout TV and film as his career developed.
Some of his more-prominent roles include starring as Dr. Lawrence Kutner in the FOX medical drama “House”, and most-recently as White House staff member Seth Wright in the new ABC political drama “Designated Designer.” He’s also appeared on other popular series such as “Law & Order SVU”, “How I Met Your Mother,” and “24.”
Beyond acting, his resume includes stints in politics and public service. Most notably, Penn worked full-time as the Associate Director of the White House Public Liaison Office from 2009-2011, where he served as President Obama’s liaison to younger Americans.
Penn also served as the liaison to Asian American and Pacific Island Communities.
“What really attracted the Rockwell to Kal was you have this artist who’s full-steam ahead with his career in Hollywood and decided to step aside, step out of the spotlight in Hollywood and work for the White House,” Smith said.
“I hope that people leave feeling inspired to get involved in their community,” he said.
The CMOG presentation will be titled “Art & Politics." It will feature Penn’s take on how his unique experiences changed his outlook on everyday American institutions.
“Specifically he’s going to be talking about how working in diverse environments and with a wide array of individuals has completely transformed his perspective on politics, media and public service,” Smith said.
“Art & Politics,” will be a unique presentation to the Corning area.
“He’s been on the circuit before… but this is not a common stop,” Smith said. “Specifically because he’s in the midst of filming his new television show now. So it’s been really tricky to get it on his calendar because he’s so busy.”
“He’s going to be taking a break from filming (Designated Survivor) to come and give a talk in Corning, he said. “It’s pretty exciting.”
All are welcome to attend “Art & Politics” from 7-8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26 at the Corning Museum of Glass Auditorium, 1 Museum Way, Corning.
Tickets are $15 for students, both college and K-12, and $30 for adults.