Nasim Pedrad, From Iran to SNL

Nasim Pedrad.

Nasim Pedrad, an Iranian-American comedic actress, portrays Gigi in the Comedy Horror television series produced by Fox.

Pedrad left Saturday Night Live in 2014 after five years on the iconic comedy show. Her impressions of Arianna Huffington, Kim Kardashian, Barbara Walters, Kelly Ripa, and Gloria Allred were highlights of the show. In 2015, she made two guest appearances on New Girl.

Born in Iran, Nov. 18, 1981, she lived in Tehran with her parents, Arasteh Amani and Parviz Pedrad, until 1984 when they immigrated to the United States. She grew up in Irvine, Calif. Her parents, who live in southern California, met while both were students in Berkeley. Her father works in the medical field and her mother works in the fashion industry.

Pedrad says SNL was a big part of growing up as an American. “I would watch those shows in an effort to understand American culture and assimilate, because I wasn’t necessarily getting as much of that from my parents as my American friends were,” she told Grantland, the entertainment/ESPN blog, in an interview. “I have early memories of watching the show, and knowing that it was going to help me stay in the know, even in the years when I was too young to fully understand what the sketches were about.”

After one SNL show where she played the Iranian first lady, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's wife, in a mock interview, she told the Iran News, “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." She will join Mulaney, a new Fox sitcom created by ex-SNL writer John Mulaney, which premiers in October.

She will play Mulaney’s wisecracking roommate. SNL producer Lorne Michaels will be the producer of the new show. Fox has ordered 16 episodes. Pedrad and her younger sister, Nina Pedrad, a writer for 30 Rock and New Girl, are both fluent in Farsi. “My parents did their best to speak to us in Farsi as often as they could when we were at home so we could grow up to be bilingual,” she told Grantland. She says she hopes 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 wrote a one-woman show called “Me, Myself and Iran,” and portrays five very different Iranian characters. SNL cast member Tina Fey saw the show and recommended Pedrad for SNL.

Early Career

Pedrad graduated from University High School, where former SNL cast member Will Ferrell also attended and graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Theatre in 2003. She performed with The Groundlings, an improvisational comedy troupe based in L.A. She frequently performed “Me, Myself and Iran” at the ImprovOlympic and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los Angeles, and in the HBO Comedy Festival in Las Vegas in 2007. She guest-starred on Gilmore Girls from 2007 to 2009, ER, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. She also did voices in Despicable Me 2 and The Lorax. She joined SNL in 2009. The show’s cast members have included other actors born outside North America such as Tony Rosato (Italy), Pamela Stephenson (New Zealand), Morwenna Banks (England), and Horatio Sanz (Chile).

Iranian Immigration

Pedrad's family joined a large number of Iranians who immigrated to the U.S. after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. According to U.S. Census data and independent surveys done by Iranian-Americans in 2009, there were an estimated 1 million Iranian-Americans living in the U.S. with the largest concentration living around Los Angeles, particularly Beverly Hills and Irvine. In Beverly Hills, about 26% of the total population is Iranian Jewish, making it the city’s largest religious community.

There are so many people of Iranian-Persian descent living around Los Angeles that the city is often referred to as "Tehrangeles" by those in the community. Iranian is a nationality; Persian is considered an ethnicity.

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Moffett, Dan. "Nasim Pedrad, From Iran to SNL." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Moffett, Dan. (2021, February 16). Nasim Pedrad, From Iran to SNL. Retrieved from Moffett, Dan. "Nasim Pedrad, From Iran to SNL." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 24, 2023).