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What is Fame Good For?

Last night I was celebrating a friend’s birthday downtown when Kiefer Sutherland and other cast and crew of Designated Survivor (ABC, CTV) came into the bar to blow off steam after a long shoot in the Royal York Hotel. Maybe my assumptions reflect my own introversion, but I would not feel comfortable approaching a celebrity in a public space because, in keeping with the golden rule, I wouldn’t want to be pounced on every time I went out. However, the birthday girl is considerably more outgoing than me (OK, to be fair, probably 99% of planet is more outgoing than me) so pics were taken.

Kiefer Sutherland was a great sport who not only posed with us for a group pic and wished my friend a Happy Birthday, he also, admirably, tolerated some behaviour that’s described in Cards Against Humanity and probably should have stayed in the deck. My friend dragged me over to get a pic with Kal Penn too, but I’m not sharing the whole thing here because we were in front of a planter and it looks like I was wearing orchids in my hair. I told Penn I admired his work on House, but it wasn’t until I Googled him later that I remembered why I liked him enough to tell him so and it has more to do with his activism than his acting. Penn, who also worked in the White House Office of Public Engagement under Obama, supported Sanders in the primary and this is also the guy who made a racist’s tweet backfire by using it to raise over $850,000 in a crowd-funded project called “Donating to Syrian refugees in the name of the dude who said I don’t belong in America.”

When Penn won “MasterChef Celebrity Showdown” recently, he donated the $25,000 prize money to Palestinian Refugees. Having your face on TV speaking words written by others isn’t something admirable in itself. Reputation is what other people think about you, whether they know you or not. Character is who you really are and actions speak more clearly than the cleverest words onstage. I admire Kal Penn not for his reputation, but for his character, because he’s trying to make the world a better place. This is what fame is good for. Thank you, Kal, for being a such a good sport last night. But for being a compassionate citizen of the world, thank you very, very much.