He's got a hot movie out now and has had even a hotter year with roles in "A Raisin in the Sun," "The Express," and the recently postponed "The Soloist." Who is this busy dude?
Justin Martin, 14, might not be a household name right now but people are starting to remember his face. The ATL-born teen is one of the new stars introduced in "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" and is expected to sing and dance his way through any subsequent sequels to the successful Disney franchise.
Martin, a National Honor Society student, took time out of his busy promotional schedule to chat exclusively with WTF last week.
WTF: Tell me how you got into acting?
JM: I've been doing it for six years and it's not somthing that I really wanted to do. I did an Easter play at my church and I did that because everybody else was doing it. I did always like singing and dancing so I did the play and then joined this drama group for fun. I started to like it and then took some acting classes here in Atlanta and then went to L.A. and started doing professional work. I did "The Bernie Mac Show" and "Malcolm in the Middle" and then did a movie with Boris Kodjoe (straight to video "Doing Hard Time"). From there it just kind of escalated.
WTF: Were you a fan of "High School Musical" before getting cast in "HSM3?"
JM: Not so much me. I have a little 9-year-old sister who is crazy about "High School Musical" so I definitely had heard of it but I wasn't like a huge die-hard fan. It was great to be a part of it and something that is so big and well-known.
WTF: What was your reaction when you found out you had gotten the part?
JM: It was great. It's the first role that I've had that wasn't like a dramatic role. It was kind of a breath of fresh air to do something a little different.
WTF: What was it like playing Diddy's son in "Raisin?"
JM: Oh it was great. He's really, really nice and just really professional--especially with "Raisin in the Sun." He put his all into it.
WTF: Did he give you any specific advice?
JM: Not so much about my career, but we talked a lot. We became pretty close and he gave me a lot of Sean Jean stuff.
WTF: What's your role in "The Soloist?"
JM: That was a movie I did with Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. It's about this guy named Nathaniel Ayers who was a musical prodigy who went to Julliard. He played a number of instruments but the one he was most famous for was the cello. He developed schizophrenia and a reporter from the L.A. Times found him on Skid Row and started writing about him. I played the younger version of him and Jamie plays the older one.
WTF: What was it like working with Jamie?
JM: Oh, it was great because we spent a lot of time together studying mannerisms. I got the chance to meet the real Nathaniel Ayers and that was really cool. Me and Jamie both had to learn how to play the cello.
WTF: Was that hard?
JM: It was really hard. I don't know about Jamie because he's an incredible musician but for me it was my first time playing a string instrument.
WTF: Have you kept it up or did you just do it for the role?
JM: My mom wanted me to keep it up but it was way too hard. I think I would have pulled my hair out.
WTF: How would you describe the last year with all of the success you've experienced?
JM: I never would have imagined this in my wildest dreams. It's always something that I've wanted to happen. I've always seen it happen to other people--a lot of people that I've idolized. It's definitely a blessing and a dream come true.
WTF: Will you be in the next "HSM" if there is one?
JM: That's the rumor. As far as my involvement goes there's nothing official yet. If the opportunity did come around I'd be down for it because I had so much fun.
WTF: Are the girls chasing you down the street yes?
JM: It's been pretty crazy. Even before the movie came out I'd be in stores or at the movies and I'd get recognized. Paparazzi followed me around in Canada. But it's all part of the job description.
WTF: Do you mind all of that attention from the girls?
JM: No, not at all!