Meet the Sunnyside Cast, One of the Most Diverse Groups on TV

Creators Kal Penn and Matt Murray also made sure to have diversity behind the camera

By Chris Harnick Sep 19, 2019 6:00 PMTags

Sunnyside, NBC's new comedy co-created by and starring Kal Penn, assembled one of the most diverse casts on television…maybe ever.

The new series, named after and set in New York City's Queens neighborhood, stars Penn as Garrett Modi, a former New York City councilman who goes on a quest of redemption teaching immigrants the lessons needed for them to pass the citizenship test.

Penn said he had wanted to do a show like this for some time and it wasn't until he met with Matt Murray and Michael Schur that they developed a premise that worked. And from the start, representation on and off camera was necessary.

Kal Penn Says "Sunnyside" on NBC Is His "Dream Show"

"I mean we wanted the cast to look like America because it's, it's a patriotic American comedy," Penn told E! News.

"Doing a show about immigration, you kind of have to, and we certainly didn't want to have like one specific story," Murray said. "I feel like there's a narrative that immigration is one thing. It's people coming in and you get a stamp and they just get to live here. There's so many different ways to go about it, and people coming from someone here from places and have so many different specific challenges that like I think we want to just present it as, it's not a monolith, it's a multifaceted thing."

In addition to the diverse cast, which you can meet below, the writers room on Sunnyside is staffed with immigrants or children of immigrants, save one staffer. That, obviously, was done by choice.

"We want to make sure we get those stories right and make sure they're relatable. It was very cool and fun and easy to build a writers room that way," Murray said.

Samba Schutte

A Dutch-Mauritanian actor, Samba Schutte grew up in Ethiopia until he was 18. He wrote for the video game Battlefield V and has performed on a number of games including Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. Additionally, he appeared in the Netflix film The Tiger Hunter.

Joel Kim Booster

Joel Kim Booster plays Jun Ho on the new comedy. His TV credits include Shrill, Search Party and BoJack Horseman, as well as his own stand-up special The Half Hour. He also recorded a stand-up album, Model Minority. He's also the co-host of Comedy Central's Unsend, a digital series about weird and shame-worthy stuff on social media.

Diana Maria Riva

Diana Maria Riva has an extensive Hollywood background, including Netflix's Dead To Me, the upcoming Apple TV+ series The Morning Show, Anna Kendrick's Noelle, What Women Want, 17 Again, The X-Files, The Drew Carey Show, Madam Secretary and many more. She was raised in Cincinnati and her family roots go back to the Dominican Republic.

Poppy Liu

Poppy Liu, Mei Lin on the series, is a first-generation Chinese-American actor. Liu made her network TV debut in NBC's New Amsterdam. In addition to acting, is a full-spectrum doula.

Kiran Deol

Kiran Deol plays Kal Penn's sister on the series and has an extensive TV resume. In addition to How to Get Away With Murder, she's popped up on The Mindy Project, Grey's Anatomy, Parenthood and Modern Family. Deol is also a director, her documentary Women Rebel, followed women rebel soldiers, and was nominated for an Emmy.

Moses Storm

Moses Storm, a veteran of the UCB Theatre, previously appeared on NBC's Last Comic Standing. His TV work includes Another Period and recurring roles on This Is Us and Arrested Development.

Kal Penn

Kal Penn shot to fame with Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, but he didn't strictly stay in the comedy lane. In fact, he didn't strictly say in the acting lane. In addition to roles on House, Designated Survivor and How I Met Your Mother, Penn served a member of the Obama administration as an associate director in the Office of Public Engagement.

Sunnyside premieres Thursday, Sept. 26 at 9:30 p.m. on NBC.

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)