HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Maulik Pancholy

Award Winning Actor, Activist and Author


  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Anti-bullying Initiatives
  • The Evolving Landscape of Diversity in the Media
  • The Power of Storytelling: Tell Your Own Story
  • The Best at It
  • An Evening with Maulik Pancholy


New York
More Media

Maulik Pancholy is an award-winning actor, activist and author of The Best at It (Balzer+Bray), his debut middle grade novel which released in October 2019. He is best known for playing Jonathan on NBC’s award-winning comedy 30 Rock, Sanjay on the Showtime hit series Weeds, and Neal on the NBC comedy Whitney. Pancholy is the voice of Baljeet on Disney’s Phineas and Ferb, and the title voice of Sanjay on Nickelodeon’s Sanjay and Craig - the first lead Indian-American character on a network cartoon. On stage, he starred opposite Matthew Broderick and Martin Short in Broadway’s It’s Only A Play, and opposite Ed Harris in Good for Otto. In December he returns to Broadway in the play Grand Horizons at the Helen Hayes Theater.

As an activist, he has long been an advocate for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) and LGBTQIA+ communities. He is the recipient of an Asian American Arts Alliance Award, the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award, and was named to Out Magazine’s Top 100 list. In 2014, President Obama appointed him to serve on the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs. During his three-year tenure, he spearheaded the launch of #ActToChange, an anti-bullying campaign designed to meet the unique needs of AAPI youth. With the changing of administrations, Pancholy helped move the campaign outside of the White House. Act to Change is now a national nonprofit that he continues to Chair today.

In his debut novel, The Best at It, Pancholy draws from his own experience to chart the fictional account of a twelve-year-old, gay, Indian-American boy coming into his own. The book was named a 2019 Junior Library Guild Selection and has received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and the American Library Association’s Booklist. Kirkus raves, “Every character in the story is nuanced and sympathetically rendered, and the book does not shy away from racism, sexism, ableism, or homophobia. The protagonist’s devastatingly honest voice pulls readers deeply into a fast-paced journey riddled with heartbreakingly authentic moments of anxiety, confusion, and triumph.”

Additional Praise for The Best at It

“An impressive first novel…wholly engaging.”
-- ALA Booklist (starred review)

“This funny, uplifting story about identity… sends a powerful, positive message to young readers about choosing self-acceptance.”
-- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“An emotional, earnest, and genuine journey to self-love that had me crying, laughing, and cheering. Hilarious and heartbreaking and truly touching—I wanted nothing more than to reach through the pages and give Rahul a big hug for being brave, determined, and the best that he can be.”
-- Kacen Callender, Stonewall Award-winning author of Hurricane Child

“A funny, fun, big-hearted book filled with characters to adore. Rahul’s journey toward learning to stand up for himself and finding his place in the world is achingly emotionally authentic and deeply resonant. This novel is a joy from beginning to end.”
-- Anne Ursu, award-winning author of Breadcrumbs and The Lost Girl

“Exuberant... Every middle schooler will find themselves in this book.”
-- Soman Chainani, New York Times bestselling author of the School for Good and Evil series

Praise for Maulik Pancholy

“Thank you so much for the incredibly impactful presentation. The power of you speaking about your journey was palpable in the room. We were lucky to have you.”
--Managing Director, Diversity+Inclusion, Global50 Law Firm

“Maulik was insightful, warm, funny and very engaging...so inspiring! Totally outside the box.”
--Diageo plc

“One of the best speakers [we’ve] had in recent memory.”
--Northwestern University South Asian Students Association

“Middle schools can be a tough crowd but Maulik isn’t afraid of engaging with them. He kept their attention for the entire session. My favorite part was when Maulik read directly from his book. The kids were gripped by it. They didn’t want him to stop.”
--Washington Steam Magnet Academy, Pasadena CA

“Your message of accepting and celebrating our differences is one that is sorely needed. The assembly and Writers Workshop were both beautifully done. For the rest of the day teachers stopped me in the hallway to thank me for arranging your visit.”
--Tohickon Middle School, Doylestown, PA

“Mr. Pancholy captivated the audience, deftly moving back and forth between joking with students and sharing personal stories about finding his way in middle school. Students are still talking about Mr. Pancholy, about THE BEST AT IT, and about the presentation.”
--Miami Valley Middle School, Dayton OH