How former SNL player became 'Chad'
Q: What inspired the character of Chad?
A: (Laughs) Weirdly, it’s directly teleported from my own awkward adolescence. … I love writing about the awkwardness of adolescence and I wanted to write something that felt authentic to my own experience growing up as a child of immigrants, where you’re sort of caught between these two cultures and in my case certainly just so desperately wanted to fit in at school. And you know, Chad has a far more rigid determination to be popular than I did.
But I think everyone can relate to the feeling of wanting to fit in and I think teenagers are already struggling to find their identities and also be accepted by their peers. And then in my case, being an immigrant kid, there’s a little bit of a desire to distance yourself from the other-ness that comes with being foreign and it feels like this extra obstacle in your effort to fit in that certainly I could relate to.
Q: Are there unique challenges in playing a character of the opposite gender and a much different age?
A: Part of what got me excited about this was to think of creating a character within a coming-of-age story where the teenager at the center of it was played by an adult who’s in on the joke. Because teenagers themselves don’t know what’s so funny about being a teenager (laughs) and are just sort of in the middle of living it. So I thought if Chad was played by an adult who could bring that perspective and specificity to the role, you could actually push the comedy a lot further. You know, funny moments get to be funnier and less sad if you’re sitting there laughing at me and not an actual Iranian child.
And then I thought I personally could just disappear into looking like a little boy more so than if I were playing a girl with the help of the wig and the eyebrows and the baggy clothing and the posture. When I envisioned the character, I felt like a little boy could get me further away from myself in a way that would be helpful to my performance.