Marsai Martin is one of the most recognizable faces in #younghollywood. Her resume includes feats that some adults twice her age have yet to accomplish. In addition to her acting, producing, and many other entertainment ventures, the young star is also a fervent social activist. Her new mission-to make glasses cool with the 2020 Vision Challenge. Marsai’s new mission encourages regular vision exams for children and hopes to bring a new cool factor to glasses.
Forbes.com sat down with the young star to find out more about her latest mission, the new season of Black-ish, her role as a producer, and more. Check out what Martin had to say in her entire interview below as printed on Forbes.com. We cannot wait to see what Martin does next!
Can you discuss your own struggles with vision issues?
I wear glasses and I’ve been wearing them since the age of 7 or 8. I was one of those kids who felt like an outsider because of my glasses. I was the only black girl and I had glasses on so I felt totally different from everyone else, especially with me being in the front of the class to be able to see and make sure I get the right schooling that I need to. [It’s about] seeing the world in a clear way. When my parents took me to the right eye doctor and I got the right lenses for my glasses they worked well and I want to make sure other kids get the same care that I got.
Was it easy to start working in Hollywood as a glasses wearer?
It really depends but I feel it has changed. In the beginning, when I used to audition for these roles they would ask me to take off my glasses so they could see me in a different view. Or if I did get the part I’d have to take off my glasses. So when I got onto black-ish, which is one of my biggest roles, they told me to keep my glasses on and they liked them. It has to change for the audience because seeing a young black girl with glasses on inspires them to wear theirs.
How have you navigated situations where someone wants you to take your glasses off?
In the beginning, I was low-key fine with it because I was like, “Okay, well, if they need me to take off my glasses I’ll make sure to do what they say to make sure they get the right perspective of me.” But when I got onto black-ish it was a different situation. I learned growing up and being more comfortable in myself; I learned that glasses are my thing and can be everyone else’s as well. It’s not just about the style of it all but to make sure your vision is correct. The answer has changed throughout the years. I tell people now, “You can’t get me unless I have my glasses with me, period.”
What is the hope for your promotion of this, especially when we’re talking about representation in all forms?
Growing together. I truly think that any health situation that you have gets checked because YOLO. When you’re my age you make sure you do it when you’re young because it affects how things change. When you start early you can change how you look at things in the future.
You’re officially the youngest executive producer. What have been the pressures and challenges of that?
It’s been a crazy ride. I feel like 2019 was the craziest roller-coaster. I’ve been in this business for 15 years so this has been one of the craziest years I’ve ever had. There are ups and downs but at the end of the day it’s all about how you take care of yourself and [deal with] all the glitz and glamour, how people see you, your haters and lovers. Its about how you receive life and what’s the lane that you’re going to take. You get those breaks and just relax, and make sure you know your circle and find your way and don’t get caught up. That’s low-key advice but that’s really been my year, to find myself and find what is really my passion and see if I want to keep going with what I’m doing. I love it so far so I’m going to keep going.
And how has it been navigating all that at just 15?
You just choose. You just gotta go for it. I try to keep moving forward.
Can you share anything about this upcoming season of black-ish?
The cast is well. We are all trying to push through on season six. We’re supposed to be professionals at this so we’re taking it one step at a time [laughs]. With this season you’ll get a lot of laughter, a lot of fun. I feel like everyone has grown into their own person so you’ll get more stories behind that. I can’t say anything, but there are going to be a lot of guest stars. Loretta Devine is on our show now. We have the Girlfriends reunion which everyone is excited about. Everyone is going to want to see that. There are a lot of things to look forward to this season.
How can fans find out more about your vision challenge and what do you hope they’ll take away from it?
I hope they’ll listen. With kids they’re really not sure, doesn’t matter what age they are, about their eyes. If you go to the 2020VisionPledge.com you can enter the challenge and your kid can get glasses for the entire semester, for the entire school. That is actually pretty dope to me.