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Actor Kal Penn is hosting an Astoria fundraiser for Assemblymember Mamdani’s re-election

Actor Kal Penn is coming to Astoria to campaign for Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani’s reelection. Photo via U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan on Flickr

Mar. 5, 2024 By Iryna Shkurhan

Emmy-nominated actor Kal Penn is coming to Astoria to help his friend Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani secure a third term representing western Queens. 

The “Coffee with Kal’ fundraiser will be held on Thursday, Mar. 7 from 7-9 p.m. The ticketed event will feature coffee and conversation at an undisclosed location on Steinway Street. 

Photo: Instagram @zohrankmamdani

Mamdani first took office in 2020, and ran unopposed in the 2022 election. But earlier this year, a local lawyer announced his campaign to challenge the left-leaning assembly member, noting opposing positions on Israel and Palestine. Mamdani has been a vocal advocate for a ceasefire in Gaza, and even participated in a hunger strike for the cause in Washington D.C.

While Penn is famously known for his roles in the comical Harold and Kumar movie series, he has frequently uses his platform to rally support for political candidates across the country. After campaigning for Barack Obama, Penn joined his administration as an associate director in the Office of Public Engagement in 2009. In his role, he facilitated outreach with the Asian and Pacific Islander arts community. 

Penn was written off the TV series House to take the White House position, and then briefly left his post to film the third installment of the Harold and Kumar series, A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas. He was later appointed to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in 2013. 

When so many of our national political leaders are disappointing us, it has made me hopeful to see Zohran lead with love, positivity, and creativity to build bridges across communities on everything from protections for our city’s working families to health care to human rights,” wrote Kal Penn on Instagram to promote the event. “If you’re free on Thursday, come join us!”

Over the years he’s also starred in dozens of shows such as How I Met Your Mother and Superhuman. But just a few years ago, he created and starred in the show Sunnyside,  which takes place in the Queens neighborhood. Penn played the role of a city council member who helps immigrants secure citizenship.  

While the show was canceled in 2020, Penn is returning to western Queens to help an elected official in real life. He previously joined Mamdani on Instagram Live in 2020 when he was running for office for the first time.

In a Facebook post from 2020, Mamdani recounted seeing Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle in theater as a teenager and feeling proud to see an actor that looked like him on the big screen.  

Tickets for the Thursday’s event range from ‘Light Roast’ priced at $36 to an ‘Adeni Shai’ which is going for $3,000. 

The money raised will go to Mamdani’s re-election campaign ahead of this year’s election. 

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