Forest Hill actor elated with Annie, ACTRA nominations

Saara Chaudry, lead voice on Oscar-nominated The Breadwinner, is immersed in awards season

WE CAN DO IT: Forest Hill actress Saara Chaudry is the voice of Parvana in the Oscar-nominated animated film, the Breadwinner.

It’s been quite the adventure for Forest Hill actress Saara Chaudry.

The last time Streeter spoke with her, she was starring as little Cosette in the Mirvish stage production of Les Miserables.

Now, four years later, she’s had a recurring role on Degrassi: The Next Generation starred on Nickelodeon’s Max and Shred and played big sister to Dino Dana. But the crowning achievement has been her role in the Oscar-nominated animated film The Breadwinner.

Based on the book by Canadian author, Deborah Ellis, the tale follows a young Afghan girl, Parvana, who disguises herself as a boy to provide for her family after her father is arrested.

Chaudry was first drawn to the book just before she auditioned for Les Miserables, and Parvana became one of her fictional heroes. She even met Ellis at her school.

When Chaudry’s agent, James Crammond, told her the book was being adapted and the producers were auditioning for the role of Parvana, she obliged in earnest.

The biggest challenge was getting used to the Afghan accent.

“When I got the script, there was no direction. So, I did it in my own voice,” she recalled. “After I read it through once or twice, they said, ‘Can you try an Afghan accent?’”

Dialect coach, Kawa Ada, was a big help for Chaudry, as he “nit-picked, in a good way” to fine-tune her voice.

Then there’s the little detail that one of the executive producers of the film is A-lister Angelina Jolie. Breadwinner director, Nora Twomey, introduced Chaudry via a recorded message after a couple of days of rehearsal.

With Jolie in the film’s corner, it’s been subject of critical acclaim and has been nominated for six Canadian Screen Awards, 10 Annie Awards, one Oscar, and one ACTRA award.

Chaudry is nominated for two awards herself: Annie and ACTRA.

A few days after the interview with Chaudry, The Breadwinner was nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature Film category.

Chaudry is fully immersed in awards season, planning her flight to Los Angeles for the Annie Awards on Feb. 3.

When it all comes to a wrap, she’ll be back to filming Dino Dana and waiting for the next Breadwinner book to be produced from the trilogy, Pavana’s Journey.

If given the choice between live action and animation, Chaudry isn’t quite sure which she prefers, all she knows is they each help improve different aspects of her craft.

“[Animation] allows me to be more creative because I get to do adlibs and change my voice,” she said. “Even when doing movies like The Breadwinner, it’s still really cool because you get to play with these different sounds.

“Live action is completely cool because you change who you are as a person.”

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