(The Root) — Actor-activist Kal Penn fits the dual description better than most. The 35-year-old star of films, including the Harold Kumar comedies and the acclaimed drama The Namesake, left a recurring role on TV’s House for the White House Office of Public Engagement, where he worked on the Obama administration’s youth outreach. Penn, an Indian American born in New Jersey, was also a liaison with the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities. Penn’s White House duties lasted from 2009 through 2011, with a break in 2010 to film A Very Harold Kumar Christmas.
Now Penn is back on the campaign trail he traveled in the last presidential contest, recently stopping in North Carolina to talk with the young voters President Obama counted on in 2008 in order to narrowly win the battleground state, and whose votes he needs for a 2012 repeat.
Though Penn still juggles acting and politics and