GROWN WOMAN: Despite her young age, “Black-ish” star Marsai Martin has succeeded in expanding opportunities for people of color off screen as the executive producer and star of a film for Universal. 


Marsai Martin, known for her role as Diane Johnson on the Emmy-nominated ABC series “Black-ish,” is now turning her attention to behind the camera. She is executive producing and starring in a Universal Pictures comedy film, “Little,” which is based on her own idea. The film sees the 13-year-old actor portray an adult woman who’s given the chance to relive her childhood.

Not so "little"

“From a very young age, I was always told that I was an old soul,” Martin tells Mediaplanet, “so the idea of playing an older woman who’s given a second chance at life seemed perfect.”

For her work as Johnson on Black-ish, created by Kenya Barris, Martin was nominated twice for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. She has also won two NAACP Image Awards. “Having the support of my community is very important to me,” she says. “I am very proud to have been recognized by the NAACP for my work and continue to strive to be a great example of black excellence.”

Finding role models

Martin takes inspiration from many African-American creators. “I am a huge fan of Donald Glover,” she says, “because he is an award-winning actor, producer, director, comedian, writer, and Grammy-nominated artist who uses all his gifts in the most amazing ways.” Like another one of her idols, Whoopi Goldberg, Martin is aiming for an EGOT.

“I am very proud to have been recognized by the NAACP for my work and continue to strive to be a great example of black excellence.

“I find it empowering to have a platform where young girls can see someone on screen that looks like them,” she explains. Martin hopes that her role as producer can inspire other young women. Over the next decade, she aims to continue producing projects that “employ and empower people of color from various backgrounds and cultures.”

Looking to the future

Right now, Martin is still enjoying being a kid by doing things like going to amusement parks and making skits. But in the future, she wants to keep “inspiring and encouraging future generations to achieve their goals and dreams.”