Marsai Martin is an American child actor, best known for appearing in the popular American comedy series ‘Black-ish.’ She was born in Little Elm, Texas, and began modeling when she was just a toddler. Her parents got her photographs clicked and then sent them to various talent agencies. She was signed at the age of 5. One of her first commercials was for ‘Choice Hotels.’ She moved to Los Angeles with her parents when she was 9 years old, hoping to grab film and TV roles. Soon, she earned the first TV role of her career. She was cast as ‘Diane Johnson,’ one of the main characters in the sitcom ‘Black-ish.’ She appeared in all five seasons of the hit comedy series and was honored with a number of award nominations for her portrayal. She also played pivotal roles in films such as ‘Nina’ and ‘Fun Mom Dinner.’ In addition, she has also worked as an executive producer and played a key role in the film ‘Little.’ At the age of 13, she thus became the youngest person in Hollywood to produce a film.
Childhood & Early Life
Marsai Martin was born on August 14, 2004, in Little Elm, Texas, to Joshua and Carol Martin. When she was 2 years old, her parents observed that Marsai was inclined toward acting. Even though she could not speak, she would mimic characters from her favorite films and TV series.
This led her parents to think that their daughter possessed a natural talent for being in front of the camera. Her father contacted photographers to get her photo shoot done. The photographer agreed to do the shoot on a low budget when Joshua promised to send the photographs to talent agencies. Marsai was hardly 5 years old at that time.
The photographs were sent to four different agencies, and ‘Kim Dawson’ was the first and the only one to offer her a contract.
She appeared in many commercials even before she was 10 years old. In order to polish her acting skills, she attended ‘Cathryn Sullivan’s Acting for Film,’ an acting school in Lewisville, Texas. She also attended a seminar in her hometown, where many talent agents from Hollywood were present. During the seminar, she secured a contract from Melissa Berger, who worked at ‘CESD,’ an agency in Los Angeles.
She moved to Los Angeles at the age of 9 and auditioned for many films and TV series.
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She earned her first TV commercial when she was asked to appear in a commercial for ‘Choice Hotel,’ as part of their “Voice of the People” campaign. She was 5 years old at that time.
Upon landing in Los Angeles, she landed yet another big project. She was noticed in a commercial for ‘Meineke,’ a popular international car care company.
Oozing with confidence, she auditioned for many film and TV roles. She soon landed her first major role. In 2014, she was offered a main role in the American sitcom ‘Black-ish.’
The sitcom showcased the lives of an upper-middle-class black family, and Marsai played the role of the youngest daughter in the family, ‘Diane Johnson.’
It was her debut project, and with her talent and charm, she managed to become a household name in the US.
The series received positive reactions from people all over. It began in 2014 and soon became one of the most successful sitcoms of the decade. It ran for five successful seasons, covering more than 100 episodes. The current season is under production. Marsai won several awards and accolades for her role.
Making a successful debut with a hit TV series was a dream-like beginning for her acting career. While she was busy with ‘Black-ish’ and was focusing on her studies simultaneously, she also appeared in a voice role in the 2016 film titled ‘Nina.’ The film was based on the life of popular American artist and activist Nina Simone.
The same year, she appeared in the main role in the family drama film titled ‘An American Girl Story- Melody 1963: Love Has to Win.’ In her debut film role, she played the role of a young black girl at the peak of the ‘Civil Rights’ movement in the US in the 1960s. Her character, ‘Melody Ellison,’ gets consumed with the racial discrimination and raises herself above all the hate through her imagination and creativity.
In the 2017 comedy film ‘Fun Mom Dinner,’ she played the supporting role of ‘Hannah.’ She then appeared in a key role in the short film titled ‘Lemonade Mafia.’
She also did voice roles in the series ‘Goldie & Bear’ and ‘The Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show.’ In addition, she played guest roles in series such as ‘Elena of Avalor’ (voice) and ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.’
In 2019, she played ‘Jordan Sanders,’ a key character, in the fantasy–comedy film titled ‘Little.’ The film was an average critical success and a fairly good commercial success.
Apart from playing a supporting role in the film, she also served as its executive producer, along with her father, Joshua. Her father later said that she had herself come up with the idea for the film.
Awards & Nominations
Marsai Martin has won several awards and nominations for her role in the sitcom ‘Black-ish,’ including two ‘NAACP Awards’ and a ‘Young Artist Award.’ In addition, she has also been nominated for a ‘BET Award’ and a ‘Screen Actors Guild Award.’
Family & Personal Life
Since Marsai Martin is still too young to take care of her finances, her father looks after her finances and acts as her manager.
As she is currently busy with her acting projects, she is being homeschooled.
Her father initially did not hope she would turn into a big name in the entertainment industry. He wanted her to be an economist upon growing up.
Her father has established a film production company named ‘Genius Productions.’ He serves as the president of the company, while Marsai’s mother serves as its vice president.