Nasim Pedrad was born in Iran to a Muslim family, which emigrated to California in 1984 when Nasim was a toddler. Her parents wanted to make sure Nasim and her sister grew up bilingual, so they often spoke Farsi inside their home.
Nasim credits her comedic chops to watching I Love Lucy and Saturday Night Live when she was younger to help better understand American culture. She graduated from UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in 2003, having been a member of the UCLA Spring Sing Company.
She made her television acting debut with a small role as a waitress on Gilmore Girls in 2006, followed by another waitress role on an episode of The Winner in 2007. Nasim had a recurring role on ER as Nurse Suri for two seasons from 2007 to 2009, and also in 2009, she made a guest appearance on an episode of the sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
She also worked as a comedian, performing her one woman show: Me, Myself & Iran throughout L.A. at the ImprovOlympic and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. The show landed her a gig on Saturday Night Live after her performance caught the attention of former SNL star Tina Fey, who recommended her for an audition. Nasim landed the job and was a cast member for five years, from 2009 to 2014, and returned for a guest appearance in 2018.
She left SNL in 2014 to play Jane on the short-lived sitcom Mulaney, then in 2015 she landed a regular role on Scream Queens, in the role of Gigi Caldwell.
From 2015 to 2018 she played LAPD officer Aly Nelson on the hit series New Girl.
In the Disney live-action film Aladdin (2019) she played Dalia, the best friend of Princess Jasmine.
Finally, in 2020, she played the romantic lead in the Netflix comedy movie Desperados, about a woman who keeps bungling relationships and job interviews.
Nasim's younger sister is comedy writer Nina Pedrad.