“Black-ish” star Marsai Martin is continuing to build her entertainment empire by expanding her relationship with Walt Disney Television, thanks to a pilot order from The Disney Channel.
The network greenlit production on an episode of her single-camera comedy series, “Saturdays,” which the 16-year-old actress will executive produce through her Genius Entertainment company, launched in 2019. According to Deadline, the series stars actress Danielle Jade as Paris Johnson, “a 13-year-old girl who has spent most of her life roller-skating.”
“When we met with Marsai about this project, we couldn’t have been more impressed with her passion for diverse storytelling and commitment to female empowerment,” said Rafael Garcia, vice president, Development, Disney Branded Television. “We’re extremely excited to team up with Norman and the Genius Entertainment team to tap into roller-skating culture in a way that’s truly both authentic and aspirational for our audience.”
The show’s premise revolves around Paris, a skate crew leader who frequents a skating rink that is “owned and operated by a former ’90s hip-hop back-up dancer (Grammy Award-nominated artist Yolanda “Yo-Yo” Whitaker). Paris also has sickle cell disease, so “when it flares up, it’ll take every ounce of determination to prove the doubters wrong, including her concerned family.”
“Saturdays” already has some recognizable names attached. “Smart Guy” actor Omar Gooding and “Girlfriends” actress Golden Brooks will play Paris’ parents, Cal and Deb; “The Map of Tiny Perfect Things” actor Jermaine Harris is set to portray her “older brother and aspiring D.J.,” London; and “Nappily Ever After” actress Daria Johns and newcomer Samantha Smith round out Paris’ skating crew and BFFs, Simone and Roxy, respectively.
The series is notable all around, from the Black-owned production company creating it and the young all-Black leads who star in it, to the show’s central character having a disability. Black Hollywood received the news with open arms. Martin’s announcement on Instagram received over 3,000 comments with stars like her “Black-ish” sister, Yara Shahidi, Gabrielle Union, Chloe and Halle Bailey, Ryan Destiny, JT of City Girls, Sza and more dropping by to congratulate her on the achievement.
Martin has been upping her boss game since the introduction of her character Diane Johnson on ABC-TV sitcom “Black-ish.” Not only does she have a slew of awards, including nine NAACP Image Awards, she also became the youngest person to executive produce a feature film with the release of 2019’s “Little,” which she starred in opposite Issa Rae and Regina Hall.
She previously stated that she aims to make her success serve a purpose, being to inspire young girls, especially those who look like her. “Success is having a purpose, moving forward, and motivating people to do what they love,” she said. “When I was younger, I said I wanted to be a legend. That means when I leave this world, I want to make sure that I came with a purpose, made a positive mark, and inspired young girls to do the same thing that I did.”
Martin’s production company Genius Productions signed a first-look production deal with Universal in February 2019, and has several films in the works as well, including “Amari and the Night Brothers” and “Queen.”