Marsai Martin started acting in TV commercials at age 5. She went on to become a TV star in Black-ish. This year, she starred in the movie Little, which she also helped produce. At 15, she is the youngest executive producer in Hollywood history. Martin spoke with TFK Kid Reporter Alexis Bumah.
1. How did you get your start in acting?
When I was 5, my family and I were having holiday photos taken at a mall in Texas. The photographer was impressed with the way I posed and presented myself. He made my parents promise to show the photos to an acting agency. They did, and the rest is history.
2. How did you make the decision to start your own film production company, Genius Productions?
There aren’t a lot of young black girls in the film industry, and opportunities are limited. My parents and I wanted to create a company that’s diverse and inclusive , not just of black girls, but also of anyone who is underrepresented.
3. What do you do as the head of your company?
As a producer , I get to create things. I come up with ideas for projects, and my team helps me decide what works and what doesn’t work. They guide me throughout the process. They help me to be creative. Creativity is about letting your mind go beyond what you thought was possible.
4. How do you balance your work in television and movies with schoolwork?
I work with a tutor when I’m on the set of a movie or TV show. Between takes, I do my schoolwork. It definitely helps that I can work on my own time.
5. Who would you say has influenced your career the most, and why?
Definitely my family. They have done so much for me. My mom and dad are very protective of me. That’s what makes us the power group that we are. We don’t take no for an answer, and we keep pushing for what we believe in. My baby sister is the reason I do this work. I want to inspire other young girls like her.
6. What do you like to do in your free time?
I love catching up with my friends. I love going back to my hometown, in Texas, back to my roots, to remind myself where I came from. I like to swim and dance, to eat and sleep. The normal stuff.
7. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I try not to think about that. I just want to take it one step at a time. Wherever I’m headed, I’m sure I’ll be happy, because I have love and support on my side.
8. What encouragement would you offer to young people who have big dreams?
Be yourself. You can do whatever you want, if you tap into your full potential. And take care of yourself. Whatever you do, whether it’s acting or going to school—make sure to take time to relax. Mental health is important.