Saturday Night Live's first Iranian-born cast member Nasim Pedrad joined the
popular late night comedy and variety show last September and has since
impersonated celebrities and first ladies including Kathy Griffin, Kim
Kardashian and Iran's first lady.
Pedrad joined the cast of "Saturday
Night Live" in the 2009-10 season from The Groundlings Theater
in Los Angeles, where she trained and performed in the Sunday
Pedrad also performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los
Angeles. Her one-woman show "Me, Myself and Iran" debuted at the UCB,
and was selected for the 2007 HBO Comedy Festival in Las Vegas. In
addition, Pedrad has been featured elsewhere on NBC, playing "Suri"
in several episodes of "ER". She also appears in the upcoming season
of "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia."
Originally from Tehran,
Iran, Pedrad was raised in Irvine, California. Pedrad received her
degree from UCLA's School of Theater in 2003. Her birthday is
Nasim Pedrad was born
in Tehran on November 18, 1981. She told the Iran Times that her
parents, Arasteh Amani and Parviz Pedrad met in the States while both were
students in Berkeley, California. The couple now resides in Southern California,
where her father works in the medical field and her mother works in the fashion
industry. Before her parents settled in the United States in 1984, however,
Pedrad was born in Tehran where she lived until she was two.
An Iranian citizen,
Pedrad grew up in California, where she later attended college at the University
of California at Los Angeles. From there she received her bachelor's degree in
2003 from their School of Theater.
Pedrad told the
Iran Times that although she was always interested in performing and had
grown up acting in plays in junior high and high school, it wasn't until college
that she made up her mind to pursue comedy.
"My training at UCLA
exposed me to a variety of theater, but as I went through the program it became
clear that my favorite roles were always the comedic ones. Upon graduating, I
started taking improv and sketch writing classes at the Groundlings Theater in
Los Angeles," she told the Iran Times.
Before joining the
cast of "SNL," Pedrad appeared in episodes of several shows, including "ER" and
"Gilmore Girls." She also wrote a comedic one-woman show called "Me, Myself &
Iran," wherein Pedrad portrayed five very different Iranian characters. It was
from this show that the former "SNL" star Tina Fey, known for her impersonation
of the former Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin,
recommended Pedrad for the late night comedy and variety show.
Pedrad has also
performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, the New York and Los
Angeles-based comedy theater that is a popular starting place from which the
careers of many "SNL" cast members have begun.
The Iranian-born actress told the Iran Times that landing a job at SNL
was a dream come true, adding that the show gave her the ability to perform a
variety of different characters and a range of ethnicities. In one episode
aired in October, Pedrad comedically portrayed the Iranian first lady, President
Ahmadi-nejad's wife, in a mock interview news sketch.
"Well, Mahmud had to
be here for the UN and I made him promise he would take me to America so I could
go shopping. Maybe buy this one [Ahmadi-nejad] a neck tie. Oh, wait, I forgot,
he's allergic to neck ties," Pedrad, playing Ahmadi-nejad's wife, said in the
"Look at him, sir,"
Pedrad said jokingly to the mock host. Then she turned to the person playing
Ahmadi-nejad. "Hey! Why are you smiling all the time? Nobody likes you," she
joked with an Iranian accent.
"He is completely
oblivious. He thinks he won the election!" she continued during the mock
actress said that while the segment made light of Iran's first couple, she
encouraged people not to take it too seriously. "I think the idea behind this
piece was just to consider, 'What if Iran's president and his wife fought like
every other married couple?' she explained to the Iran
Pedrad looks forward
to playing Iranian roles in the future. "I love and am very proud of my Iranian
heritage. It's shaped who I am as a performer, and if I ever poke fun at it,
it's coming from a place of love."
Pedrad, however, does
not typically play Iranian women. "The cool thing about SNL is that you get to
portray a wide variety of characters," she told the Iran Times, adding
that some of her favorite roles have been portraying celebrities like, "Kathy
Griffin, Barbara Walters and Kim Kardashian."
As for any future
plans, Pedrad said she hoped to stick with SNL. She has been in every show
since this season's September 26, 2009 premiere and is currently working on the
eleventh episode of the season.
"I wouldn't mind
sticking around here [SNL]. Down the road, I hope to continue to be a working
actor. Working at SNL is the most fun I've ever had. You get to do a live show
for a studio audience that's also broadcast to millions of people," she said.
Pedrad hopes that her
future plans will one day include visiting her place of birth. Though she left
Tehran at a young age, the Iranian culture, cuisine, language and people remain
an integral part of her life.
"Most of my memories
start from when I was in the states, but I do want to visit Iran someday. My
dad's side of the family is still in Iran-there are so many cousins I have yet
to meet," she said, adding that she speaks Farsi and enjoys Iranian food.
"My parents really
encouraged my little sister and I to take Farsi classes when we were little.
I'm so grateful to be bilingual." Another aspect of her heritage that she
enjoys is the cuisine. Of all the aromatic and flavorful Persian dishes, Pedrad
said her favorite is, "Zereshk polo. Hands down." Zereshk polo is a colorful
Iranian dish that includes rice, barberries, saffron and chicken.
career, Pedrad said her family-which includes her parents and a younger sister
Nina who is currently an undergraduate student at New York's Columbia
University-have been "extremely supportive" of her choice to pursue acting and
When asked about
joining the cast of SNL now that she's been with the comedy show for more than
four months, she said, "It's exciting to be the first Iranian cast member on the
show, and I feel incredibly lucky. Getting this job is a dream come true."
SNL is broadcast live
to millions of viewers at 11:30 p.m. each Saturday night on NBC.
... Payvand News - 01/28/10 ... --