( ENSPIRE Entertainment ) “Chad” Follows the Title Character as He Enters High School and Explores His Persian Identity
ENSPIRE Contributor: Abby Ladner
If you don’t know Ella Mika, you will soon enough. The rising star has been acting since childhood, catching the acting bug from her father, who was a prominent actor in their home country of Armenia. What started as a leading school play soon brought her to her first role in a feature film. In “Birds of Prey,” starring Margot Robbie, she played the younger version of Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character, Huntress. Now, she’s landed her first role as a series regular in the TBS comedy “Chad.”
“Chad,” created by SNL’s Nasim Pedrad, follows the title character as he navigates his first year of high school, his mother’s dating life, and accepting his cultural identity. Alongside him is his younger sister Niki, played by Ella Mika. Read our interview below to hear from Ella Mika about her acting journey, working with Nasim Pedrad, and the importance of diverse representation on television.
You started to act when you were very young. Why is that? What made you want to pursue acting?
My dad used to be an actor, so I was introduced to acting at a young age. I once went behind the scenes with him to see what it was like, and it started to spark curiosity for me. I went home and watched so many “behind-the-scenes” of actors and just different movies and shows on Disney Channel that looked interesting and fun. Seeing how much the actors enjoyed their work and the joy they brought to their viewers and audience was what really pushed me into pursuing an acting career.
Your role on your new show “Chad” is your first role as a series regular—What has it been like to land this role and work alongside such a talented cast?
The audition process to get my role was pretty difficult. I had around 5 or 6 callbacks before I got the role. The first 2 rounds were to see if I was able to really make the character into my own while the 3rd and 4th were to test out my improv skills. Of course, I made sure to coach before every audition. The last two rounds were chemistry reads with Nasim to test out our connection and to see if we were able to work together easily. Casting did a great job picking all the actors though because our entire cast was so talented. Working with everyone was such a pleasure, as everything went by in a fun and smooth way. An advantage to working with and alongside such a talented cast was that we learned something new from one another every day. It was just such a great experience that I’ll be forever grateful for.
In the show, you play as the title character’s younger sister, standing alongside him as the two of you come to understand and accept your cultural identity. How did your own experiences as an Armenian American affect your experiences on the show?
I moved to the US when I was very young, so I basically grew up here. As I was growing up, I rarely ever saw any representation of Armenians or even Middle Eastern people. Those that I did see were portrayed as bad people, which really upset me but also helped because now I can relate to parts of the show when we see Chad wanting to fit in. I soon realized though that there was no need to want to fit in and that, instead, I could be myself and maybe try to help more projects become more inclusive. This is also why I’m so proud that our cast is so diverse and can make everyone feel represented and welcomed.
What impact do you hope this show has on the people who watch it, especially those who perhaps haven’t seen themselves represented on TV before?
I hope that the people who watch this show are able to feel like they are represented and welcomed. Hopefully, it helps many cultural people feel like they’re not alone with their struggles, specifically those relating to cultural identity. I think this show is so inclusive that just about anyone can relate, but, at the end of the day, it’s important for people to truly enjoy watching and be able to laugh and get their minds off things for a bit. Having inclusivity and diversity is a major bonus and something we definitely need more of in the industry.
What’s next for you? What sort of projects do you hope to take on in the future?
Hopefully “Chad” Season 2 is next for me. I’m pretty versatile and flexible, so I’d love to try out all different types of roles, but being able to have an emotionally or physically challenging role is definitely a dream of mine.
You can see Ella Mika on TBS’s “Chad” Tuesday nights at 10:30/9:30c. You can also keep up with Ella Mika on Instagram.