Why Black-ish and Little Star Marsai Martin Is Hollywood's Most Powerful Teenager at 14
Marsai Martin is quickly making a name for herself as the teen queen of Hollywood.
At just 14 years old, Martin — best known for her role as the kid sister on ABC’s black-ish — has already launched her own production company and made history as the youngest executive producer of a studio film with Little, in which she also stars in alongside Issa Rae and Regina Hall.
Growing up in Texas, Martin found her itch for success at a young age.
“It just runs through my family, to be honest,” she tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “I come from a very big musical, entertainment background. I would say, I was I guess a toddler when I actually found my passion, because when I was little I used to mimic all these movies and sing all this music that you wouldn’t think a toddler would know. I would think my passion just started there and it just grew with me.”
Moving to Los Angeles in 2013, Martin scored her first major role on the ABC comedy series and eventually founded her company Genius Productions, alongside her parents, Joshua and Carol.
For more about Martin, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.
“We wanted to make the production company so other young, black girls, and just people in general that look like can relate to themselves on TV, because we don’t have a lot of inspiration for people to look up to in the industry because, of course, they’ll see us in a different way,” says Martin.
Now, the teen is preparing for her big executive producing debut with Little —a movie that follows a mogul (Hall) who is transformed into a kid version of herself, played by Martin. Her next project with Genius, StepMonster, is a comedy which follows a teenage girl adjusting to life with a new stepmother.
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“You’re gonna get a lot of nos more than yeses, but you have to find the right people who trust in you, and believe in you, and will continue to work with you because you’ve got potential,” says Martin, who this year became the youngest person to get a first-look deal at any studio. “I think a lot of people hesitate because they don’t think they’re good enough, or they don’t think they can do it because they’re not this or that. But you being yourself is all that you need.”
“You just got to show who you really are, and it doesn’t matter what age you are,” she adds. “I don’t care if you’re four, I don’t care if you’re 92, you can do it at any time, because it’s never too late to do what you love.”
Little hits theaters on April 12.