Last July, Rakhee Morzaria’s debut web series Note to Self premiered on CBC Comedy. Note to Self sees Morzaria — playing a heightened version of herself — living and learning in Toronto. Learning what? How trying to tweet while walking down the sidewalk is a bad idea, sending positive vibes into the world isn’t always enough, and the importance of bike safety. Eight episodes were released on a biweekly schedule, with the last episode airing in October.
In January, Morzaria’s Note to Self received a Canadian Screen Award nomination (“Best Web Program or Series, Fiction”).
From the writing to the diversity of its cast, there’s a lot to like in Note to Self. Morzaria is hilarious as she runs into situations with full confidence, only for it to backfire on her.
What stands out most for me about Morzaria’s web series is its fresh perspective. How often do I get to watch comedy that really gets me? Not often enough. In fact, rarely. In under three minutes, episode four of Note to Self captures one of my biggest insecurities as someone born to immigrants. That is, I’m not really Latino. Sure, I’m brown, speak the language (mostly), like eating spicy foods, but I am and will always be the Canadian boy. This line of dialogue from Morzaria, who’s upset with an Indian employee of a pizza shop for misspelling her name, made me both laugh and reflect on my own life experiences.
RAKHEE — Is it me? Is it, you saw me and you thought, oh this is just some white-washed millennial who grew up in Canada not India. She’s not really Indian. I bet she can’t even speak the language! Because I can. I know words. I know plenty of words.
Note to Self returns with five new episodes starting Monday, June 11th. Episodes will be released every other week on CBC Comedy and Morzaria’s Facebook page.
Here, Morzaria talks about starring in her debut web series, writing inspiration, and being nominated for a CSA.
Did you know from the start you wanted to play a version of yourself? Why was it important for you to approach the project this way?
Rakhee Morzaria: I knew I would be playing a heightened version of myself, because it’s written through my perspective, and because so many of the episodes are based on my real-life experiences. As a comedienne, my name is my brand, so it made sense to keep the character’s name as my own.
Tell me about the inspiration behind episode four.
Morzaria: This episode is based on an experience I had at a chain pizza joint. Everyone working was East Indian, and they were having so much fun, speaking Gujarati, making pizzas and hanging out. Part of me thought, maybe I should apply to work here? It looked so fun! When I saw my name come up on that screen — completely misspelled — I realized that, though I felt a strong connection to them, they felt and/or saw no connection to me. Ha — that sounds quite sad! Though I didn’t actually confront anyone (like I do in the episode), I tried to capture that feeling as best as possible while adding some comic relief.
What has the response been like to that episode? I know one of the reasons I enjoyed it was how much I could relate to the insecurity over identity and belonging. I imagine others, who are the children of immigrants, saw themselves in it, too. Have people told you that?
Morzaria: I’m sure this is true. Many people have told me they like that episode the best because they relate to it. As a first-generation Canadian, I spent so much of my early life trying to fit in. Only when I got older did I feel comfortable truly embracing my culture and exploring it. I believe everyone’s experiences are different, but I’ve noticed a unique commonality of “where do I fit” felt among other first-generation Canadians that I know.
Note to Self was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award earlier this year. What did that recognition mean for you?
Morzaria: I was humbled to be nominated. I still am. When we began filming the videos, I had planned on releasing them myself! I was thrilled when CBC Comedy came on board to help produce them and being recognized by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television was like a cherry on top.
Lastly, anything you would like to share about Note to Self returning on June 11th?
Morzaria: Creating the series has been such an incredible experience. I’m very pleased with the new episodes… there’s one in particular that’s a snapshot into my family life and culture, and I’m excited to share it. I’m so grateful to our director, cast, crew, and CBC for helping bring this project into fruition. I truly hope people like the new episodes, and [if] they don’t…I truly hope they share them anyways.
Rakhee Morzaria’s Note to Self
Created / Produced / Starring: Rakhee Morzaria
To learn more about Rakhee, visit: http://www.rakheemorzaria.com/