Gay ‘30 Rock’ Actor Speaks Out After School Board Cancels His Book Tour Appearance Due to His ‘Lifestyle’ | Video

Maulik Pancholy expresses gratitude for the “outpouring of support” after a Pennsylvania school district stopped him from reading to students

Maulik Pancholy
Maulik Pancholy (Credit: Getty Images)

Actor Maulik Pancholy thanked fans on Thursday for their “outpouring of support” after a Pennsylvania school board canceled a scheduled author visit over his “lifestyle” and “activism.”

In an Instagram video, the openly gay actor put both words in air quotes as he shared his reaction to the Cumberland Valley School District’s decision to rescind his invitation to speak at Mountain View Middle School in Mechanicsburg.

Pancholy, who played Jack Donaghy’s assistant Jonathan on “30 Rock,” says his two middle grade books — “The Best at It” and “Nikhil Out Loud” — “reflect the full, complicated and wonderful lives of middle school students.”

Watch the video message via Instagram below.

“As a middle schooler, I never saw myself represented in the stories around me. I couldn’t find books that featured South Asian-American or LGBTQ+ characters. They didn’t exist,” he continued. “And when I set out to write my own novels so many years later, I was still hard-pressed to find those stories. It’s why I wrote my books in the first place. Because representation matters.”

He added that the lengths of his “activism” on school campuses amounts to letting “all young people know that they’re seen. To let them know that they matter.”

“When I talk about the characters in my books feeling ‘different,’ I’m always surprised by how many young people raise their hands – regardless of their identities and backgrounds – wanting to share about the ways in which they, too, feel different,” the actor and author said. “That’s the power of books. They build empathy. I wonder why a school board is so afraid of that?”

Pancholy said he had heard from former and current students and faculty at the school and thanked them for “the outpouring of solidarity, love and support.”

“I hope that every single student at MVMS is receiving that message of support and love. That you know that regardless of who you are, you belong. To each of you: I see you. I appreciate you. You matter,” he concluded. “No one can take that away from you.”

Pancholy is also known for playing Arnav on “Only Murders in the Building” and Dev Jain on “The Good Fight.” He is also a voice actor, whose credits include the animated Nickelodeon series “Sanjay and Craig” and Disney Channel’s “Phineas and Ferb.”


One response to “Gay ‘30 Rock’ Actor Speaks Out After School Board Cancels His Book Tour Appearance Due to His ‘Lifestyle’ | Video”

  1. Claire Boyer Avatar

    This piece is thoughtfully written and thoroughly researched.

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