Joshua Malina of ‘Scandal’ on being Jewish in Hollywood

Some actors get typecast typecast as villains, some as goofballs, and some, like “Scandal” actor Joshua Malina, as “smart Jews in suits.” His words, not ours, spoken Tuesday at Cornell University, as reported by The Cornell Daily Sun.

Melina, who has also starred in “The West Wing” and “Sports Night” was there delivering a talk called “How to Make it in Hollywood and Remain a Mensch.” If that strikes you as vaguely annoying, you should know he opened by declaring that he’s not exactly sure he’s made it, or that he’s a mensch.


“[They are] both unproven, merely self-proclaimed — but if you grant me the points it will go more smoothly,” Malina said, making the audience laugh and moving himself right on over into bona fide mensch territory.

More evidence Malina might have actually done what his title claims:

* He honored his parents big time, thanking them for being so awesome and teaching him about Jewish values like charity through their own actions. “I grew up in a household that honored the Jewish tradition and instilled me with Jewish pride, something that I’m trying to pass on to my kids,” he said.

* Malina sort of knew Aaron Sorkin when he was a teenager and, at the urging of his mother, reached out to him as an adult. Then he saved Sorkin’s life when the producer/writer was choking on a burger. “In a perhaps not unrelated note, I’ve gone on to appear in almost anything he has written since then,” Malina said. His advice to aspiring actors: “Heimlich someone who’s more talented than you are.”

* While he believes it’s completely okay to be critical of Israel, Malina, who spoke about his experience being the entertainment industry’s sole representative at a rally for Israel’s right to exist, doesn’t understand why the country doesn’t have more celebrity backing. “It can be lonely work trying to support Israel in Hollywood,” he said.

Mr. Malina, if you are reading this, we formally invite you to replace every speaker at every single boring Jewish event and fundraiser we ever got to again.

Jana Banin is the blogger for 6 Degrees No Bacon.