While “Chad” stars a de-aged and gender swapped Nasim Pedrad, Ella Mika shines as Chad’s younger sister, Niki.
The TBS comedy follows a 14-year-old Persian boy named Chad played by Pedrad, à la the critically acclaimed “Pen15,” and was written and produced by the SNL alum. Mika’s character is described as cool and popular, but the actress feels more similar to the main character’s dorky demeanor. “I’d say I’m the less cringey version of Chad, thankfully,” she said, thinking about where she draws inspiration from. “The sass that Niki has a lot of is really similar to my little sister.”
Referencing the experiences of family members is nothing new to Mika, being the daughter of an Armenian actor. However, she never thought she would be an actress, actually refusing offers when she was younger. “My dad used to be an actor and everyone used to ask me, ‘Do you want to be an actress?’” she explained. “I was really against it at first because of the lack of privacy that I saw [but] when I got a feel towards what their daily life was like [and] how much joy they would bring to the audience, … it kind of really inspired me.”
Working on “Chad” is a unique experience, with the lead actress dressed up in a short wig and bushy eyebrows while a number of the other cast members are teenagers and young adults, but Mika notes how Pedrad’s transformation works in their favor. “She plays the role so well and that made it so easy for us, but also so hard because it was difficult not to laugh in between the scenes,” she shared, describing the on-set atmosphere. “Everything felt so natural and real.”
Mika also points out the diversity in the show. “In a way, we are making history because we don’t really see a Persian family on a big network like TBS,” she said. “Just seeing so many different people and feeling like others can relate to any character in ‘Chad’ and really find someone that they feel represents them … brought me a lot of joy.”
Watch the full interview above to hear more of what Mika has to say and check out “Chad” on TBS.