Actor Kal Penn and more recently civil servant, of Harold and Kumar comedy films joined the Obama administration as an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement in 2009. In February of 2012 the 35-year-old political activist was promoted to co-chair for the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama. On the first day of the Democratic National Convention, Penn spoke from the podium to the delegates and the American people before introducing Michelle Obama.
It had to be the first time a party convention speech inspired widespread use of the Twitter hashtag #sexyface.
Kal Penn, slyly suggested that viewers use the term when tweeting about his jocular address to Democratic delegates. In other word, #Sexyface actor Kal Penn or perhaps just sexyface is how he preferred to be addressed.
And sure enough, #sexyface quickly went viral, peaking at nearly 2,000 tweets per minute at 9:32 p.m. ET, Twitter reported.
It was a measure of the appeal of the actor and devoted Obama supporter, who on Tuesday night sought to once again harness his cool factor to help the president.
Penn noted that he had “worked on a lot of fun movies,” but that his favorite job was working for “a boss who gave the order to take out Bin Laden and who’s cool with all of us getting gay married.”
“So thank you, invisible man in the chair, for that,” he said sardonically, a not-so-subtle swipe at the roundly mocked routine that actor Clint Eastwood delivered on the last night of the GOP convention.
Penn was the Democrats’ answer to Eastwood, a generational take-down that emphasized the hipness divide between the two candidates.
The actor ticked off a litany of friends who have been helped by Obama’s policies – one who got a job with a Detroit car company, another finishing college on the GI Bill, another back from Iraq.
“We can’t turn back now,” he said, adding, “I ask all of you young people to join me. You don’t even have to put pants on. Go to commit.barackobama.com and register right there.”
The “oldies” out there could do the same, he said.
Penn noted that he had followed Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on stage, who because of his current job was not able to use the four-letter-words he is famous for.
Penn also spoke on the president’s progress on social issues, celebrating Obama’s move to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” and his decision to publicly announce support for same-sex marriage.
“I’m not mayor, so I’ve got one for you,” Penn said mischievously. “Vote.”
He goes by his real name in his political profession, KalpenModi – and his juggling of conflicting interests in politics and acting dates back to his youth. He went to University of California-Los Angeles in the mid-90s, where he majored in sociology and film, and landed supporting acting roles until his leading break as a fictional pothead.
But it was Barack Obama who resurfaced Modi’s political interests when Modi met the presidential hopeful in 2007. The actor, who was playing Dr. Lawrence Kutner on the television show “House M.D.,” campaigned aggressively for Obama during the 2007-2008 writers’ strike and served on the campaign’s arts policy committee.
After the election, it was clear Modi had caught the political bug. His character on “House” committed suicide, so he could trade scrubs for suits and take a position as associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement. He played the role of liaison to young Americans, the arts, and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
Because of a prior commitment, Modi was pulled away from his staffer duties in April 2009 and back onto the big screen for a third “Harold and Kumar” feature, “A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas” (they had also “escaped from Guantanamo Bay” in 2008). But he returned to the Old Executive Office Building in November 2010.
His affair with acting continued in 2011 with appearances on the hit show “How I Met Your Mother “and “House,” in an episode called “Everybody Dies.” Yet this year, he’s answering the president’s call to serve on his campaign — quite literally.
Penn is hosting the campaign’s livestream of Thursday’s DNC program, when Obama is slated to accept his party’s presidential nomination.