Sometimes getting what you want is all about carving out your own opportunities for yourself, and Marsai Martin was ready to take that plunge at 10 years old. The young actress had just finished off her first season on the ABC comedy Black-ish as Diane, one of four children in Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross’ TV family. Take a break? Take a summer vacation like the other kids her age? Nah. She decided to pitch what became this weekend’s comedy release Little to the production company behind Think Like a Man and Ride Along. Doing so, she’d become the star and youngest executive producer in Hollywood history.
Will Packer Productions has grown in the past few years, including the 2017 mega-hit Girls Trip, and has boosted black comedians Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart into blockbuster leads. Here’s what Packer told me during a recent Little press day about the time Marsai Martin pitched her idea for the upcoming body-switch comedy:
If only we all had that kind of confidence that that age! Not only did the actress have the courage to step into the Hollywood executive’s office with creator of Black-ish, Kenya Barris, but she convinced Will Packer to actually make the movie too. Little is about successful tech entrepreneur Jordan Sanders (Regina Hall), who wakes up one morning as her younger self and must renavigate life as middle-schooler, as her assistant April (Issa Rae) covers for her back at work.
Tina Gordon, who also penned the script for What Men Want, was hired to write and direct the project and collaborated with Marsai Martin during the development process. Gordon admitted that she had some different ideas going into the project about what Marsai Martin’s character would take on. Here’s what she told me:
Early in the process, Little was going to primarily take place in the halls of Jordan’s old middle school, but Marsai Martin’s ability to take more on blew the writer/director away. The comedy instead is more about the growing relationship and hilarious quips between little Jordan and Issa Rae’s April as they form an unlikely friendship through the events on the film.
Marsai Martin also helped Tina Gordon implement how relevant social media is on her young generation and place it in the DNA of the film, in addition to it touching on the prevalence of bullying in middle school as well. When I asked the youngest executive producer ever if the job she took on was a different experience then she was expecting, here’s what she confidently said:
This 14-year-old is thriving in the cutthroat world of Hollywood without batting an eye. Marsai Martin did seem to place the right people around her for her film debut, as she had previously worked with both of the film’s stars before and much of the crew behind Black-ish followed her for Little. Think we’re going to have to watch out for this one! You can catch Little in theaters this Friday, April 12.
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Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.