'Black-ish' star Marsai Martin signs first-look deal with Universal

The 14-year-old actress will develop scripted series for the studio.
Image: Marsai Martin arrives to the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sept. 17, 2018.
Marsai Martin arrives to the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sept. 17, 2018.Jordan Strauss / Invision / AP file

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/ Source: Reuters
By Variety

Universal Pictures has signed a first-look deal with 14-year-old “Black-ish” star Marsai Martin and her Genius Productions company.

The first Genius Productions film under the deal is the comedy “StepMonster,” in which Martin will star as a teenager adjusting to life with a new stepmother.

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Martin began working as an actress at the age of 5 and received her first major recurring role as Diane Johnson on “Black-ish” in 2014, portraying the twin sister to Miles Brown’s Jack. She stars in and executive produces her first film, the comedy “Little,” along with Regina Hall and Issa Rae. “Little” opens on April 12.

Martin will develop scripted projects for Universal alongside Genius Productions co-founder Joshua Martin, VP Carol Martin, and head of creative Prince Baggett.

“Working with emerging talent is a cornerstone of Universal’s overall slate strategy and Marsai is a star on the rise,” Universal Pictures president Peter Cramer said. “She is not only tremendously talented in front of the camera, but offers a unique perspective as a creator and producer that will resonate with all audiences. We look forward to moviegoers getting to see how brilliant she is in ‘Little’ and watching her evolve as a filmmaker here at Universal.”

Martin cited diversity efforts by Cramer and Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, in the announcement.

“I am so excited for the magic I’ll be able to create and produce with Universal,” Martin said. “Mr. Cramer and Ms. Langley’s commitment to investing in, and uplifting diverse and young voices is both refreshing and important, and I’m happy to be a part of that legacy. My goal is to show young women and girls that our voices and ideas matter and you are never too young to dream BIG!”

Martin is represented by WME and Meyer & Downs.

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