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Kal Penn tweeted some of the racist casting calls he got early in his career.

Before "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle," Kal Penn was just another 20-something guy in Hollywood looking for a break.

Aspiring actors are subjected to no shortage of humiliating audition opportunities. But as a young actor of Indian descent, Penn was forced to subject himself to an extraordinary level of typecasting and stereotyping in order to work, at least according to a series of tweets the "Designated Survivor" star posted.

You can pretty much guess what some of the casting notices were like.

Penn recalled being asked to put on an exaggerated accent for comic effect more than once — though the casting people rarely admitted that's what they wanted him to do.

Often, he explained in his tweets, the roles were one-note jokes — defined by little more than skin color and a "funny" voice.

The audition experiences even soured him on some shows he was a fan of before he became an actor.

Penn also included praise for some shows he auditioned for and worked on that "didn't have to use external things to mask subpar writing" — including "24," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "The Steve Harvey Show," and "Angel."  

Since the years when Penn was an up-and-coming actor, the TV landscape has diversified and opportunities for non-white actors have expanded, with shows like "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," "Jane the Virgin," "Black-ish," "Silicon Valley," and "Empire," featuring three-dimensional characters of color in starring roles.


Still, some evidence suggests that progress might be anecdotal. According to an analysis conducted by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, 72% of all speaking roles in film and TV were white in 2016, virtually unchanged from a decade prior. Only 28% of roles were from non-white racial and ethnic groups, despite the fact that these groups constitute almost 39% of the actual U.S. population.

Racist and sexist casting calls haven't gone away. Recently, New York actor Audrey Alford was threatened with a lawsuit after she posted a screengrab of a casting call notice from an agency seeking "mainly caucasian actors" who are "gorgeous in a classic way," to her Twitter page. In 2015, actor Rose McGowan leaked a casting call, purportedly for an Adam Sandler movie, encouraging female auditioners to wear something that "shows off cleavage" to the audition.

As a successful actor, Penn can use his platform to advocate on behalf of young actors of color auditioning today who might not be able to speak up for fear of reprisal.

Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images.

More exposure probably won't end the calls for South Asian actors to play convenience store clerks, terrorists, and nerdy one-note programers, but if it shames the people in charge of bringing movies and TV shows to life into making more creative choices and casting directors into searching talent, rather than ethnicity-first, than that's a good first step.

Upworthy has reached out to Penn for comment.

Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

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Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson in 2006.

A startling number of professional athletes face financial hardships after they retire. The big reason is that even though they make a lot of money, the average sports career is relatively short: 3.3 years in the NFL; 4.6 years in the NBA; and 5.6 years in MLB. During that time, athletes often dole out money to friends and family members who helped them along the way and can fall victim to living lavish, unsustainable lifestyles.

After the athlete retires they are likely to earn a lot less money, and if they don’t adjust their spending, they’re in for some serious trouble.

In a candid interview with NFL Hall of Famer and TV personality Shannon Sharpe, Chad Ochocinco (legally Chad Johnson) revealed that he saved 80 to 83% of the $48 million he made in the NFL by faking his lavish lifestyle because it made no sense to him.

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Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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Family

American mom living in Germany lists postpartum support and women are gobsmacked

“Every video you make gets me closer to actually moving to Germany.”

U.S. mom living in Germany shares postpartum support she received.

Having a baby is not an easy feat no matter which way they come out. The pregnant person is either laboring for hours and then pushing for what feels like even more hours, or they're getting cut from hip to hip to bring about their bundle of joy. (Unless you're one of those lucky—or rather not-so-lucky—folks who get to labor for hours only to still end up in surgery.)

Giving birth is hard and healing afterward can feel dang near impossible, especially given that most states in the U.S. only offer six weeks of maternity leave and it's typically unpaid. But did you know that not everyone has that experience?

A mom who had her first child in the U.S. before meeting her current husband and relocating to Germany is shedding light on postpartum care in her new country. The stark contrast is beyond shocking to women living in the U.S. and she's got a few considering crossing the ocean for a better quality of life.

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Meghan Elinor chimes in on the Starbucks tipping debate.

Tipping culture is rapidly changing in America, so understandably a lot of people aren’t sure what to do when they buy a coffee and the debit card reader asks for a tip. It used to be that people only tipped bartenders, drivers, servers and hairdressers.

Now people are being asked to tip just about any time they encounter a point-of-sale system. There is a big difference between tipping a server who lugged around hot plates of food for an hour-long meal and someone who simply handed you an ice cream cone.

"We're living in an era of inflation, but on top of that, we've got tipping everywhere—tipflation. I take it a step further and call it a tipping invasion. Because that's really what I think it is," etiquette expert Thomas Farley (aka Mister Manners) told CBS 8.

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Pop Culture

One moment in history shot Tracy Chapman to music stardom. Watch it now.

She captivated millions with nothing but her guitar and an iconic voice.

Imagine being in the crowd and hearing "Fast Car" for the first time

While a catchy hook might make a song go viral, very few songs create such a unifying impact that they achieve timeless resonance. Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” is one of those songs.

So much courage and raw honesty is packed into the lyrics, only to be elevated by Chapman’s signature androgynous and soulful voice. Imagine being in the crowd and seeing her as a relatively unknown talent and hearing that song for the first time. Would you instantly recognize that you were witnessing a pivotal moment in musical history?

For concert goers at Wembley Stadium in the late 80s, this was the scenario.

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