WASHINGTON — Actor Kal Penn started a new job Monday as a liaison between the White House and Asian communities.
The Indian-American actor is taking a break from Hollywood to work as an associate director in the Office of Public Liaison, with a focus on connecting President Barack Obama with the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities, as well as arts groups.
Penn had a recurring role on Fox's TV show "House" and starred in several films including "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle" and its sequel, "Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay"
Penn, who backed Obama during the campaign, said the new job has nothing to do with his life as an actor.
"I expect to be treated just like any other staff member," he told reporters on a conference call.
He is even applying this quest for a fresh start to his identity, saying he will use his given name, Kalpen Modi, instead of his acting moniker while working for the Obama administration.
Penn described the public liaison office as the "front door to the White House." He said his job would be engaging with constituent communities and making sure they feel that they have a seat at the table.
Asked about the differences between the new job and his work in Hollywood, Penn joked that he now wears a suit.
When pressed about preparing for his first day on the job Monday morning, he said, "I brushed my teeth; I did floss, used mouthwash ... took the bus to work, same thing that everybody does."