Celebrity Scoop: Ben Rappaport

A year ago, Ben Rappaport was carrying trays of miniburgers and miniquesadillas at Manhattan fashion industry parties. "I was walking up to models and they would give me death looks, like, 'You think I will eat that?' " he says.

He had recently graduated from Juilliard and was a struggling New York actor.

Today he's the lead of NBC's sitcom "Outsourced," airing Thursdays.

"I can't wrap my head around it," he says of his new status. "It's just absolutely the right part; it's that the universe lines up and seems like it was written for me."

Last winter he went on 10 auditions a week while working odd jobs. He had an off-Broadway play to his credit. Rappaport read the script in the subway on his way to the audition.

The show is set in a call center in India, which Rappaport's character, Todd, is sent to manage. He was in management trainee school for Mid America Novelties, which sells fake vomit and mistletoe belt buckles. He returns to an empty office; his boss explains they "right-sized." Todd's choice is to move to India or become unemployed.

"A lot of Todd is paying homage to my father," Rappaport says; his dad works in the plastics industry and travels around the world as a consultant. "I imagine my father in India and being in the same situation. He would try really hard, and it felt right."

Todd does try really hard, and though there is a narrow-minded American as a support character, Todd is respectful as an expatriate. The show, likely to anger those who consider it racist toward Indians, is essentially an office comedy, Rappaport says.

"I think people will be surprised as to how relatable these characters are," he says. "It is a workplace comedy, and it is about these characters."