Interviewed by The Daily Bruin in January, theater alumna and former Spring Sing Company member Nasim Pedrad was full of enthusiasm for her first half-year as a featured player on Saturday Night Live, network televison’s longest running comedy showcase. “SNL is my new UCLA,” she says. There was even a fellow Bruin there to greet her, fellow cast member Will Forte ’93.
Growing up, Pedrad looked up to the show’s greats such as Tina Fey and Cheri Oteri. And it was Fey who recommended Pedrad to audition after catching part of her one-woman show, Me, Myself and Iran, which showcased her Iranian culture through smart, quippy humor.
Pedrad’s enthusiasm for the stage was evident throughout her time at UCLA. Born in Tehran, Iran, and raised in Irvine, where she nurtured her niche in theater, she spent her college years participating in UCLA’s talent show, Spring Sing, and performing in theater shows that vacillated from classics to contemporary dramas. It was in her second year at UCLA that Pedrad decided to focus on comedy.
“The great thing about my time at UCLA was the network of creative people that it gave me and classmates and friends of mine that I was able to collaborate with and jump into the industry with once we graduated,” Pedrad says. “We produced a lot of our own productions while we were studying theater at UCLA, and by sophomore year, I knew I specifically wanted to do comedy.”
Pedrad notes that it was her family that supported her interest in theater. UCLA theater professor Gary Gardner…said he knew Pedrad was a talent early on and noticed her innate sense of performing while she was in his class.
“She’s one of those students who’s very bright, and she was a lady, and she knew how to have fun.” Gardner says. “She had her eye on improv and performance, and she wasn’t afraid to make a fool out of herself. It was so endearing.”
Pedrad had stints in shows such as Gilmore Girls and E.R. while participating in comedy shows at The Groundlings and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, where she gained more experience in improv and writing her own pieces.