Marsai Martin is known as the sassy youngest daughter on Black-ish, but now she’s all dolled up to star in Amazon’s original special An American Girl Story- Melody 1963: Love Has To Win.
Based in 1963 Detroit during the civil rights movement, Melody centers around a 10-year-old girl Melody (Martin) whose eyes are opened to the racial inequality surrounding her, including the 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing, according to the streaming service.
There were aspects of the film — which is based on the American Girl doll character Melody — that were a lot of fun for Martin, 12.
“I got a chance to go back in time and wear really cool clothes and hairstyles,” she tells PEOPLE. “I worked with a great director, cast and crew and I am very proud of this movie.”
But it was the history lessons in the film that Martin feels is the most important aspect to focus on.
“I learned that African Americans were still fighting for some basic rights and equality,” she says. “Things like the right to sit at a lunch counter and eat lunch with friends of different races. It seems crazy that it was against the law to sit together in some places in the 1960s.”
Martin hopes viewers will watch her new movie and contemplate the relevance of the themes.
“It matches a lot of what is going on in the world right now,” she says. “Hopefully kids and parents will watch it together and talk about how to make things better.”
Melody is produced by Common and also stars Frances Fisher, Frankie Faison and Idara Victor. It premieres Friday on Amazon Prime Video.