Ella Mika didn’t know what to expect when stepping on set for the TBS series “Chad.”
What she did experience was pure joy.
“I never thought the experience would be so great,” Mika says. “Being able to be part of the show has been an amazing experience.”
“Chad” was originally ordered to series by Fox five years ago after comedian Nasim Pedrad pitched it.
It is set to premiere on TBS at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 6.
“Chad” follows a 14-year-old pubescent Persian boy, played by Pedrad, as he 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.
The series is all about teen drama, coloring outside of the lines, an adult’s take on what it’s like to be a 14-year-old. It would be a completely different show if Chad was played by an actual teenager. The show taps into the universal sensation of feeling like an outsider with heritage adding an additional layer. (Everyone remembers what it’s like to be a teenager. Everyone goes through an awkward stage no matter who you are.)
Pedrad, who first made her mark on “Saturday Night Live,” is also creator, writer, executive producer and showrunner on “Chad.”
Mika plays Chad’s younger sister Niki — who is popular, outspoken and fashion forward.
“Niki is a lot like my younger sister that I have,” Mika says. “She’s outspoken, sassy and has great style. She’s a great balance and is the complete opposite of Chad.”
Mika does share some characteristics with Niki.
“We both have a good sense of style, I’d like to say,” she says. “We both have a lot of confidence and we speak our mind. Though I when I feel it’s not needed, I will stand back.”
Grabbing the role of Niki did take some time.
In fact, Mika had five callbacks before snagging the role.
“It consisted of testing out the lines and how to make the role great,” she says. “One part of it was focusing on my improvisation skills. The third round was a straight read with Nasim and to check out sibling bond chemistry.”
The final three callbacks was down to Mika and another actor.
“I saw her once and it was weird,” she says. “We both wanted the role really bad.”
Working with Pedrad was also a high point.
“(Nasim) is hilarious on and off screen,” she says. “She’s super sweet and really thoughtful. It was fun and easy to be on set. We had lots of moments that we’d stick to the script. Other moments we would totally improv and see what happened. Nasim made the character and was great at becoming Chad.”
Mika is also proud to be part of a cast that is diverse and inclusive.
“The industry is changing,” she says. “People are often left not represented and I think it’s important to see people like yourself on TV. I’m Armenian and in the show there is so much diversity. Each character is different. What’s great is viewers can relate to the stories we are telling.”
Growing up, Mika wasn’t sure she would be in front of the camera.
“I was camera shy,” she explains. “My dad is an actor and I went on set once with him when I was young. I saw how much fun it was on set. I went back home and I would search different actors and it began to intrigue me. I started becoming curious about it and here I am.”