Nadiya Chettiar is a powerful woman, writer and voice in the world of comedy television. The multi-talented, Leo Award nominated television writer currently based out of Vancouver, Canada has perfected her craft over the past three years, and is now a sought after talent in the film and television industry.
Chettiar got her start on the hit comedy series “Some Assembly Required” in 2013 and has been working on the writing side of the television industry ever since. Starting out as a script coordinator, Chettiar worked on the show for three successful seasons, ultimately climbing the ranks.
Created by Dan Singer (“A.N.T. Farm,” “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and “The Suite Life on Deck”) and Howard Nemetz (“Mr. Young,” “The Suite Life on Deck” and “Smart Guy”), “Some Assembly Required” follows a fourteen-year-old Jarvis who takes ownership of a toy company and hires a group of his friends to aide in running the company and constructing new toys. Kolton Stewart (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” “Saving Hope” and “Angels in the Snow”), Harrison Houde (“Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and “I Dare You), Sydney Scotia (“I Dare You”), Charlie Storwick (“The Stanley Dynamic”), Travis Turner (“A Princess for Christmas” and “Marley & Me: The Puppy Years”), and Dylan Playfair (“Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story,” “If I Had Wings” and “Grave Encounters 2”) star in the series.
Immediately following her first season with “Some Assembly Required,” Chettiar learned of a show that was returning for its second season: “Package Deal.” The two shows were both products of the same production company, and after approaching the producer regarding a job opening on “Package Deal,” Chettiar booked the gig. “It was a total ‘right place at the right time’ type of scenario,” Chettiar explained. “I was lucky enough to be transferred over to “Package Deal” where I got to work with more great writers, and had the added bonus of getting lots of opportunity to pitch jokes, many of which made it to air.”
“Package Deal” was created by the Primetime Emmy nominated Andrew Orenstein (“Malcolm in the Middle,” “Everybody Hates Chris” and “Good Luck Charlie”) and starred Randal Edwards (“Room,” “The Best Years” and “Degrassi: The Next Generation”), Harland Williams (“Dumb and Dumber,” “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” and “The Whole Nine Yards”), Jay Malone (“Struck by Lightening” and “Dumbbells”), and Julia Voth (“Bitch Slap,” Project: S.E.R.A.” and “Lilith”). The series revolved around a woman named Kim struggling to accept her new boyfriend’s meddling brothers.
On both “Package Deal” and “Some Assembly Required,” Chettiar was responsible for pitching hilarious jokes and storylines in addition to writing. “In any writing room, your main responsibilities, no matter your rank, are to pitch the funniest, most interesting stories and jokes you can, and to help the showrunners achieve their vision. To me, that’s the job in a nutshell,” Chettiar said.
This year, it was made evident that Chettiar succeeded in doing just that. The witty writer was recently nominated for a 2016 Leo Award in the category of “Best Screenwriting in a Youth or Children’s Program or Series” for an episode she wrote on season two of “Some Assembly Required.” The awards ceremony will take place in the film and TV hub, Vancouver, BC, Canada on June 4th, 2016.
“Some Assembly Required” and “Package Deal” are both multi-cam comedies that are shot before a live studio audience. It is because of the audience that multi-camera shows are shot with three cameras at one time. This makes the shooting of the show go by much faster, so the audience can enjoy the show, and the show gets the benefit of the audience laughter, which is all recorded throughout the taping.
Chettiar stated that because of this, the script of a multi-cam show requires a very specific style of writing in order to obtain proper execution – a style she has mastered. “Multi-cam shows are extremely prolific,” she said. “Every episode sees up to five rewrites, and sometimes more. The scripts are read and rehearsed in front of the writers, so we get to see what works (and doesn’t) before we go to camera. The sets are setup in a row, facing the audience. For this reason, the writing centers around using those main sets as much as possible.”
Regarding Chettiar’s talents when it came to this intricate process of storytelling, creator Orenstein commented, “Nadiya was great at pitching on her feet. She pitched some of my favorite jokes.”
Scripts of multi-cam shows are combed over and scrutinized for days so that by shooting time, the cast and crew know them inside and out. This process takes a week total and involves long hours and many late-night rewrites. To be successful in your work, “You need to be easy going and good-natured, because nobody wants to work long hours with a jerk. It’s also helpful to be flexible in your opinions and ideas, because sometimes things aren’t going to go the way you’d hope and you need to be able to change direction on a dime,” Chettiar added.
Orenstein fondly remembered working with Chettiar, describing her as the kind person who was, “Eager to absorb and learn. It made working with her a pleasure,” he said. “Working long hours on set with Nadiya, I had the pleasure of getting to know her. She comes from a really unique and diverse background that has shaped her sense of humor and comedic lens. I always felt confident she would get the job done.”
All that being said, a writer’s work doesn’t stop when they clock out for the day. In fact, it only continues. “In order to survive in the industry, I think you need to be dedicated, and stay practiced,” Chettiar commented. “You can’t stop writing just because you’re not working. To that end, I even try to write my own stuff outside of working hours when I’m on a show.”
Prior to establishing herself as an accomplished writer, Chettiar experienced great success in the world of acting. Not only did her prior training and experience serve as, “A tool to unlocking that part of the brain where the character voices live,” she said, it also granted her the opportunity to pull from her roots and act on either show.
“On ‘Package Deal,’ I got to play a small role along side of Jason Priestly, which was very fun. On ‘Some Assembly Required,’ I got to be in the series finale, which was a total honor. It hasn’t aired yet, so I don’t want to give anything away, but I can say that I was in a head-to-toe fun fur costume and it may have been the sweatiest night of my life,” Chettiar recalled, laughing.
Currently, Chettiar is making the transition into writing for a new, single-cam television show called “Workin’ Moms,” created by Catherine Reitman (“Friends with Benefits,” “Knocked Up” and “I Love You, Man”). This will be Chettiar’s first time writing for a single-cam show professionally, though she is no stranger to the art of it.
The show is very female focused, containing stories of women’s issues told via comedy. In comparison to the two prior shows she’s worked on, Chettiar explained, “The comedy style is very different. ‘Workin’ Moms’ is a much more grounded series so we’re looking for comedy that is coming out of very real characters, in very real situations. It’s really fun. I think it’s reflective of the era we are living in with so many great cable comedies seeing so much success.”
Television has been critiqued for a long time concerning its lack of female personnel in the industry, especially when it comes to writers. While “Workin’ Moms” is a new series that will contain an emphasized female presence, the birth of the show in its entirety means audiences will be presented with, “More comedy written for and by women that deals with real female issues,” Chettiar stated.
“I think that it’s unlikely a man would create a show about working mothers, so that sets the tone for conversations we’re having in the [writers] room. I think it takes a woman showrunner to bring ideas like these to TV, and I’m so happy to be in a position of supporting [Reitman] in any way that I can in that effort. Of course, there are men making great comedy that looks at women’s issues, for example, ‘Togetherness’ had fantastic—some of my favorite—female characters dealing with the complexities and hilariousness of being a woman. Unfortunately that show was cancelled, and with shows like “Girls” wrapping up, my sincere hope is that more new shows will be able to pick up this slack and carry on making great female comedy. I think “Workin’ Moms” could fit that bill, which is very exciting.”