'PEN15' Cast and Character Guide to Help You Make the Best Out of Seventh Grade (2024)

Except for a few lucky kids, seventh grade isn’t easy for anyone. From the zits to the classes to the school bullies to the meanderings of understanding our own sexuality, being 13 can be a truly traumatic experience. For those whose puberty coincided with the Y2K panic — the much-criticized millennials — the early stages of adolescence were accompanied by other nightmares particular to that time, like dial-up internet and much more socially accepted misogyny and hom*ophobia. It’s an era that many of us would rather forget. Thankfully, Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle remember it very well.

Alongside Sam Zvibleman, Erskine and Konkle are the creators of Hulu’s PEN15, a show that brings us the best, the worst, and the best of the worst of being a middle-schooler in the early 2000s. Both in their 30s, Erskine and Konkle also star as fictionalized versions of their 13-year-old selves, sharing the screen with actual kids playing their friends and classmates. It’s a choice that both aids the series’ peculiar brand of cringe comedy and allows it to explore themes that might prove too sensitive or potentially harmful for younger actors, like masturbation and racism. For more compromising scenes — for instance, Anna’s first kiss — the show makes use of camera tricks and body doubles. It might sound like an unusual way of making a TV show, but, so far, it has been working wonders; PEN15 has been nominated for three Emmy Awards in 2021, including Outstanding Comedy Series.

Whether you have never seen PEN15 and want to catch up with the series, or you’re an old fan needing a refresher before Season 2, Part 2 is set to hit Hulu on December 3, here’s a guide better than any middle-school yearbook to the show’s main cast and characters.

RELATED: ‘Pen15’ Season 2, Part 2 Trailer Has Maya and Anna Dealing With Boyfriends, Death, and Running Away

Maya Ishii-Peters (Maya Erskine)

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Anna’s best friend, seventh-grader Maya Ishii-Peters comes from a Japanese-American family. Despite her talent for drumming and acting, she’s often insecure about her abilities as well as her looks, especially after being dubbed UGIS, or Ugliest Girl in School. Maya is also a class clown, being an expert in Ace Ventura impersonations; however, this doesn’t help her popularity status.

Maya Erskine has done voice acting for Crossing Swords, Bob’s Burgers, Bojack Horseman, Robot Chicken, and most recently, Big Mouth, among other animated shows. She has starred in Amazon Prime’s Silicon Valley comedy Betas from 2013 to 2014, and has had recurring roles in HBO’s Insecure and Hulu’s Casual. Erskine is also set to appear in the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi miniseries from Disney+.

Anna Kone (Anna Konkle)

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Maya’s best friend, seventh-grader Anna Kone is equally unpopular. She’s an extremely talented singer, having had a solo in the school’s musical performance. After a long marital crisis, Anna’s parents decided to get divorced. The whole situation has forced their daughter to adopt a more mature, and sometimes stoic, attitude towards life. She’s shown to have a crush on Maya’s brother, Shuji, as well as on her classmate Alex.

Anna Konkle has appeared in shows like New Girl, Shameless, Maron, Baskets, and Betas, in addition to her roles as Corinne in the movie Escort and as Tara in the Fox crime drama Rosewood. After Pen15 premiered, she has also done voice acting for Big Mouth alongside Erskine.

Yuki Ishii-Peters (Mutsuko Erskine)

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Maya’s mother can be as stern as she is loving. Yuki values her Japanese origin and strives to pass her language and culture on to her children. She often acts as a voice of reason against Maya’s temper tantrums.

Mutsuko Erskine is Maya Erskine’s real mother. PEN15 is her first acting job, though she has appeared in many of her daughter’s NYU film school projects.

Fred Peters (Richard Karn)

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Maya’s father is a drummer who is frequently away from home touring with his Steely Dan cover band, coming back for important events like Maya’s big drum solo.

Richard Karn is one of those actors that you have certainly seen before, even if you can’t recall exactly where. He has appeared in shows and movies ranging from the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful to the fourth installment of the Air Bud franchise. However, he’s most well-known for starring as Tim’s (Tim Allen) co-host Al in the ABC sitcom Home Improvement.

Shuji Ishii-Peters (Dallas Liu)

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Maya’s eighth-grader brother is often mean to his little sister, but he’s always there when she needs someone to help her come up with insults to humiliate a bully, among other big brother things. In Season 2, it is revealed that Shuji is actually Maya’s half-brother, though the family doesn’t treat the two siblings any differently.

Dallas Liu started his career at age nine in the 2010 Tekken movie. Most recently, he has appeared as Ruihua in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. He’s also set to star as Prince Zuko in the upcoming live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series.

Kathy Kone (Melora Walters)

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Anna’s mother, who has a tumultuous relationship with her husband, is super into crystals and alternative therapies.

Walters is known for her role as Wanda Henrickson in the HBO drama series Big Love, as well as for movies like Dead Poets Society, Magnolia, Boogie Nights, and The Butterfly Effect.

Curtis Kone (Taylor Nichols)

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Anna’s father seems to be more on his daughter’s good side than Kathy. After the divorce, Curtis jumps right into a mid-life crisis, piercing his ear and buying a used convertible.

Nichols is best known for his role in '90s and early-2000s movies like Metropolitan and The Boiler Room. Recently, he has appeared in episodes of The Walking Dead, Animal Kingdom, and The Rookie, as well as in Season 1 of HBO’s Perry Mason.

Sam Zablowski (Taj Cross)

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The girls’ carpool friend and classmate who secretly has a crush on Maya. Sam is based on Zvibleman’s teenage experiences.

Besides Pen15, Cross has also appeared in the NBC show Young Rock, based on Dwayne Johnson’s life.

Gabe (Dylan Gage)

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One of Sam’s best friends, Gabe is presented as a gay boy struggling with his sexuality. In Season 2, he stars in the school play alongside Maya and briefly asks her to be his girlfriend.

Dylan Gage has appeared in episodes of Stranger Things and This Is Us. Most recently, he has been in Hillbilly Elegy and Fear Street: 1978.

Heather (Anna Pniowsky)

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Pictured here on the far right, Heather is the school’s resident popular girl that has an on-and-off relationship with Alex.

In the movies, Pniowsky has starred in He’s Out There, Light of My Life, and Bad Therapy. She has also appeared in the National Geographic show The Hot Zone.

Alex (Lincoln Jolly)

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A laconic popular boy on whom Anna has a crush.

Jolly has appeared in the movies A Lover Betrayed and The Nowhere Inn, as well as in the Snapchat original series Solve and the Russian show Chernobyl: Zone of Exclusion.

Brandt (Jonah Beres)

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A mean boy who is best friends with Alex and on whom Maya has a crush.

Beres is known for small parts in ABC’s Splitting Up Together and TruTV’s Those Who Can’t, as well as for the horror movies Stephanie and Strange Nature.

Brendan (Brady Allen)

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A member of the school band with impossibly tiny handwriting, with whom Anna goes out for a while.

Besides PEN15, Allen’s only acting credit is in Paranormal Activity 4.

Becca (Sami Rappoport)

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Despite not exactly being a popular girl, Becca (second from left) sure is a mean one that takes pleasure in things like telling Maya the real meaning of the acronym UGIS.

Besides PEN15, Rappoport’s only acting credit is in Brat TV’s Youtube series Sunnyside Up.

Maura (Ashlee Grubbs)

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Maura is a troubled child that verbally abuses her mother and believes she can buy friends with money and candy. In Season 2, she forces herself between Maya and Anna until the girls accept her as her new best friend. Maya, however, is quick to realize something is amiss.

Ashlee Grubbs has small roles in movies like The Immortal Wars, The Radiant One, and Guard Dog. She’s also appeared as one of the kids in Disney’s Andy Mack companion commentary show Mack Chat.

Steve (Chau Long)

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A high school freshman obsessed with Bruce Lee that acts as supervisor for the school play’s tech department. It’s implied that he has a crush on Anna and, in the trailer for Season 2 Part 2, the pair appears to be dating.

Long has had small roles in Grey’s Anatomy, Lucifer, Vice, Silicon Valley, Euphoria, Atypical, Days of Our Lives, and Young Sheldon, among other shows. He’s also in Snapchat original Total Badass Wrestling.

Jan (Diane Delano)

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The school janitor that frequently appears to lend Maya and Anna a helping hand.

Delano is best known for playing Hilda Van Beno in Days of Our Lives, Stella Willis in E.R., Bunny Hopstetter in The Ellen Show, Bobbi Glass in Popular, and Sister Beech in the 2006 Wicker Man remake. She also works as a voice actress, playing Tuba in Cartoon Network’s Infinity Train.

Mr. Wyzell (Tim Russ)

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Mr. Wyzell is the girls’ music teacher and the composer of the piece performed by the school band.

Russ is best known for playing Lt. Tuvok in Star Trek: Voyager, and he has an extensive resume that encompasses soap operas, sci-fi TV shows, and voice acting credits, among other things. Those that grew up between the late 2000s and the early 2010s will probably recognize him as the school principal from Nickelodeon’s iCarly, a role he has reprised in Paramount+’s revival of the show.

Greg Rosso (Michael Angarano)

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The school’s drama teacher and the author of the school play.

Angarano is known for his role as Nick Pearson in This Is Us. He has also appeared in movies like Empire State and The Stanford Prison Experiment. As a kid, he played Jack’s (Sean Hayes) estranged son, Elliot, in Will and Grace, and young William Miller (Patrick Fugit) in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous.

Jafeer (Tony Espinosa)

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Sam and Gabe’s best friend.

Espinosa has appeared in episodes of Criminal Minds, Sydney to the Max, and Diary of a Future President, as well as in movies like Suburbicon and American Skin.

'PEN15' Cast and Character Guide to Help You Make the Best Out of Seventh Grade (2024)
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