14-year-old Marsai Martin turned heads and tables by becoming one of the youngest producers in Hollywood with her first feature film, Little. In the magical movie, Regina Hall is a tech mogul from hell named Jordan, who is overcompensating for the bullying she suffered as a child. One day when she goes too far, Jordan finds herself on the business end of a magic spell and wakes up as her middle school self, played by Marsai.
Little is directed by Tina Gordon, produced by Will Packer and stars Issa Rae, Luke James and Tone Bell. The film is the brainchild of Martin, who came up with the concept during season one of Black-ish, where she plays twin daughter Diane Johnson. “Growing up, I didn’t have any inspirations,” she tells BET.com. “I think now I get to create and inspire more young Black girls to continue doing what they love and reach for the stars.”
In Little, Marsai steps into some grown-up shoes (literally and figuratively), but what did the young actress learn about being an adult in this role?
“I’m [going to] be honest — I didn’t even learn anything because I already knew,” she says matter-of-factly. “I don’t go to public school, I’m home schooled. The majority of my time working is with adults so I have ‘experience’ without experiencing it. So, I think that’s what put me into this film so well. I already knew or already thought how adults would do things — which worked for me.”
However, Marsai’s magic definitely rubbed off on her more veteran co-stars.
“She had such a sweetness,” Regina Hall says of Marsai. “There are a lot of things that are firsts for her like driving… there’s a lot of innocence. There’s a lot of things she just hasn’t experienced and so watching her experience things for the first time -- it reminds you of things we do so much that we take for granted.”
Producer Will Packer felt that Marsai’s pitch was “a great idea” and admired her fearlessness in approaching him. With a strong track record for box office success, he is confident that audiences young and old will connect with Little.
“I think whether you’re a teenager or parent, there’s something in it for you,” says Packer. “I think there’s a theme in this movie because Regina Hall’s character goes back to a time where she was her true and authentic self that she’s been running from. I think we can all learn and embrace that in today’s world. Don’t worry about what anybody else says or social media says. Be true to yourself and I think we will all be happy.”
Little is in theaters April 12.