Veteran actress Saba Homayoon is the heart of TBS’ Chad as she plays the loving mother of the titular character (played by SNL alum Nasim Pedrad). While Chad struggles to embrace his Persian heritage, his mother is always supportive despite the awkward situations he gets into. ComingSoon was able to talk to Homayoon about the role, the importance of Persian representation, and more.
Chad‘s official synopsis reads, “A 14-year-old pubescent Persian boy navigates his first year of high school on a mission to become popular. Chad’s friendships and sanity are pushed to the limits as he uses every tactic at his disposal to befriend the cool kids, while enduring his mother’s new dating life and reconciling with his cultural identity. Pedrad, who first made her mark on “Saturday Night Live,” is also creator, writer, executive producer and showrunner.”
Check out our Saba Homayoon interview below!
Tyler Treese: In the show, you get to work with such a talented Persian cast. Can you speak to what that representation really means to you?
Saba Homayoon: It meant the world to me. I grew up in the deep South and you always feel different. You come from a place that no one knows or sometimes even heard of. Even as an actress, when I moved to Los Angeles feeling like I didn’t quite belong. I didn’t see a lot of Persian actresses on TV in the mainstream. So getting to play this part and be surrounded by this, it’s really like a dream come true. It’s incredibly meaningful.
A lot of the shows centers around Chad coming to grips with his heritage while living in a different country and culture. Learning to celebrate who you are and where you come from, can you speak to your personal journey in that regard?
I was born in Canada, so interestingly I’ve actually never been to Iran, so I didn’t have sort of that specific experience, but I’m definitely Persian. I definitely grew up in that culture. What I always knew was that I was very Persian and very American. I kind of felt like everybody else, my mom made me lunches and I went to ballet class. I felt like I had a very American experience and it was really just like the music and the food [that were] certain aspects that made us different. What I love about the show is that it really shows that we are just a totally American family and what we’re going through are things that are universal. So my experience was much like Chad and that, I just felt like everybody else. I just wanted everybody else to know that.
Nasim Pedrad is so talented and is able to really embody the awkwardness of teenage boys. How fun was it to film and was it difficult not to laugh in some of the more outrageous situations?
It was amazing filming with her. She really is brilliant and you kind of forget that she is Nasim. I was able to stay in the scene. I don’t know how because she is so funny, but like when I was off set and I would watch the scene, I would have to cover my mouth because I was giggling so much, but when I was actually in the scene, she’s so real and the situations feels so urgent. I don’t know, but for whatever reason I didn’t break character. It was like watching an acting class. It was like you’re watching a master. It was really incredible.
You play a very strong and independent character. That’s able to keep the house together and keeping the family functional. You had a wonderful post on your Instagram about how you’ve tried to channel your mother for this role. Can you just speak to how she’s influenced your acting and what it means to be playing the central figure of this household on this show?
I can’t tell you how fulfilling it is to be able to draw from my own personal experience. My mom was always calm and always patient. So I know those moms exist. I may not always be that, but they definitely exist. I grew up with someone that was always compassionate and supporting my dreams and helping me get through moments of difficulty. So to then step into this role, I am a mom, but to actually know a mom that is this loving and comforting was just, it was just amazing and it made it really just that much easier to play the character.
How has the feedback been from other Persians? Have fans reached out to you saying, “Hey, this really echoes my experience,” and stuff like that?
They have. Some are Persians that I know and some are total strangers. It’s really exciting to see people relate to this. Obviously, it’s always gratifying when it’s a Persian saying, “Oh my God. I just completely understand what’s Chad’s going through.” A friend told me, “I totally went through what Chad went through. I changed my name. I wanted blonde hair, blue eyes.” Hearing that people relate to it is amazing. What I love is that other people, who aren’t Persians, are relating to this character. They’re DMing me as well and saying, “Oh my God, I had such an awkward high school time. I totally get it. I’m watching it and cringing because it reminds me of me.” These people that are DMing they’re from all over and in some ways, I love that even more.
What I like one thing I really like about the show, despite being a comedy, there’s so much heart. There are some touching moments where you see Chad trying to find a father figure and understand his place in society. Your character is just so supportive and it’s really heartwarming to see this family going through this. Can you talk about how your own experience as a mother has helped you in this role?
It is heartwarming and being a kid is such a vulnerable feeling especially when you feel different. I understand that as having gone through that, but as a mother, what I understand the most is just the deep well of love you have for your children. You’re just trying to do your best and you know, you make mistakes, but you’re there for them and you just want them to be happy. All a parent wants is your children to be happy and healthy. When they’re not, you want to do whatever you can to make them happy and healthy. So I think those were feelings that I instantly felt. Also just the exhaustion and all the things you have to do as a mom. I get that too because I literally live it every day.
You touched on this a bit about how Chad does revolve around this Persian family, but so much of this is just so universal that everybody can relate to these characters and going through the awkward teenage phase. What do you really hope for people to take away from the show?
I hope they can relate to it. I hope they can see it, that it’s a universal, universal story. You know, maybe it reminds them of their, of themselves when they were growing up. I also hope they get to see the American side of a Persian family and how we have so many things in common. It’s not the differences that are huge. It’s the similarity actually that connects us. More than that, I hope people come and they laugh and they watch the show and they tune in and they and they laugh. We all need a good laugh. It’s like the best medicine. So I hope that’s what they take away from it as well.
Beautifully put, thank you so much for your time today.
In addition to the interview, we also have an exclusive Chad clip from Episode 7. In “Lakehouse,” Chad’s life changes forever after he’s invited to a lakehouse.
New episodes of Chad air on Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. ET on TBS.