Timeless. Classic. Iconic. Those are just a few of the words frequently used to describe one of the most beloved sitcoms from the 1990s. Centered around a radio host and his group of friends living in Detroit, “Martin” authentically captured the essence of the era, delivering a much-needed and accurate representation of Black Americans.
For five seasons, fans eagerly tuned in to get all the laughter they needed to last them until the next episode. Between Martin and Pam’s never-ending feud and the group’s constant escapades, there was too much to love about each 25-minute installment.
And let’s not forget the quotes that have stuck around for decades. “D**n Gina,” “Oh my goodness,” and “You go, boy” are staple comebacks in the Black community. While the fictional plots of each episode were indeed hilarious, it was the personalities of the actors that made liking the characters so effortless.
Below, take a look at what the ever-talented cast members who made the show a success are up to now.
1. Martin (Martin Lawrence)
Before he portrayed the host of WZUP, Martin Lawrence was an established comedian, taking center stage at comedy shows in the early ’90s. He also appeared in House Party and House Party 2.
During the five-season run of “Martin,” Lawrence showcased his versatility by portraying a total of nine background characters, including the memorable Sheneneh Jenkins, Jerome and Dragonfly Jones.
Lawrence’s ability to improv, paired with his longevity, fueled his acting career for decades. He went from playing a suspected-criminal in Life to being an undercover FBI agent and grandmother in the Big Momma’s House trilogy. He was also an author and television host from a disgruntled family in Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins.
A pinnacle moment in his career was starring alongside Will Smith in the Bad Boys movie franchise, which kicked off in 1995. In January 2023, both actors revealed that the fourth installment in the series was in the works.
In April of 2023, Lawrence was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his substantial contributions to the entertainment industry.
Adding another title under his belt, the multihyphenate unveiled The Martin Lawrence Shop on Nov. 28, 2023. The online retail store sells gear catered to the many characters he played in the sitcom. Fans can purchase a Sheneneh graphic T-shirt, a Bob from Marketing bobblehead, or a Mama Payne Christmas tree ornament, each item providing consumers with an immense feeling of nostalgia.
Aside from his countless accolades, Lawrence is also a father to three girls – one of whom dates Eddie Murphy’s son, Eric Murphy, according to People.
2. Gina (Tisha Campbell)
Similar to her co-star, Tisha Campbell had been ascending the Hollywood ladder far before making an appearance on the sitcom.
When she was a teenager, she and Tichina Arnold played in Little Shop of Horrors. The two sang the harmonies in a trio that appeared throughout the 1986 film, and their vocal abilities would later be showcased in “Martin.” In 1987, Campbell had a similar gig, acting and singing in the NBC show “Rags to Riches.”
Also, she and Lawrence worked with each other before starring in “Martin,” with Campell playing a love interest in the House Party franchise. After “Martin,” the actress played Jay in “My Wife and Kids” with Damon Wayans. Airing in 2001, the comedy show followed the life of a traditional family living in Connecticut.
Since then, Campbell has maintained a significant presence in the entertainment industry in more ways than one. She released her single “22 Summers” in 2019, hosted the BET Soul Train Awards in 2018, 2020 and 2021 with Arnold, and appeared in the Netflix show “Uncoupled” before its migration to Showtime.
The entertainer has also been an advocate for social justice. She and her brother created De-escalating Officer Patrol Encounters (DOPE), a project aimed to bring police officers and the community together.
3. Pam (Tichina Arnold)
Tichina Arnold got her start in the industry when she sang her way through Little Shops of Horror in 1986 and appeared in Scenes From a Mall in 1991.
Transitioning from being Martin’s arch nemesis, Arnold went on to have guest appearances in shows like “One on One,” “Happily Divorced,” “Lockdown” and others. Her iconic role as Rochelle in the hit show “Everybody Hates Chris” won her the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series in 2006. She also widened her scope by playing in drama movies like Civil Brand and the horror film Countdown.
These days, Arnold spends most of her time hosting events that either honor entertainment legends or support noble causes, performing soulful songs at intimate venues and acting in an array of productions.
Her latest venture, So Fly Christmas, was released on BET Plus on Nov. 23, 2023.
Notably, the CBS show she stars in with Cedric the Entertainer, “The Neighborhood,” got approved for its sixth season and will premiere on Feb. 12.
4. Tommy (Thomas Ford)
Thomas Ford’s career gained notoriety when he played in Harlem Nights, the box-office hit released in 1989.
Ford kept a steady career after playing the suave, yet jobless, character on “Martin.” He shared his talent with other sitcoms, including “The Parkers” and “New York Undercover.” In the world of film, Ford scored many lead roles in productions such as He Watches Over Me, Blues For Life, Every Family Has Problems and countless others.
The actor did more than recite lines, though. Starting in 2006, he hosted TV One’s “Who’s Got Jokes” with Bill Bellamy. The stand-up comedy show allowed talent to compete to see who was funnier, and Ford, the “Pope of Comedy,” had the power to deduct points from their acts.
Unfortunately, Ford passed away on Oct. 12, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. According to Entertainment Weekly, he was hospitalized after an aneurysm burst in his abdomen. He was 52 years old. He is survived by two children.
5. Cole (Carl Payne II)
Carl Payne II started acting in the mid-’80s much like his peers. He was a teenager when he played in The Last Dragon in 1985. Not long after, he became a recurring cast member on “The Cosby Show.”
While “Martin” was Payne’s first major role, his career didn’t rest with its conclusion. He joined the main cast of shows like “Rock Me Baby” and “Clunkers.” A pivotal moment in his career came in 2013 when he played LA Reid in CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story, a VH1 production.
Presently, Payne mainly does improv stand-up comedy shows, being sure to promote his appearances and thank his fans on social media after nearly every gig. Additionally, he plays in “Tyler Perry’s Young Dylan,” which began airing on Nickelodeon in 2020.
In February of 2023, he directed and played in Strange Love, which is available for streaming on Amazon Prime.
6. Hustle Man (Tracy Morgan)
Tracy Morgan portrayed the character Hustle Man, the neighborhood swindler who was always hustling to make a quick buck. Beyond the show, Morgan has lived up to the moniker, perfecting his talents and collaborating with iconic figures like Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Bruce Willis and others.
The New York City native has injected his unique comedic charm and unmatched personality into dozens of classic Black movies like Little Man, First Sunday, Death at a Funeral, Coming 2 America and more.
In 2003, Morgan was thrown into the spotlight when he got his own television program on NBC, “The Tracy Morgan Show.” In the same year, he began hosting “Scare Tactics,” a horror series where loved ones prank each other. That ran for 10 years.
Morgan’s vocal talents found their way in animated projects such as Rio, Scoob!, Boxtrolls and G-Force. He currently does stand-up comedy shows at event centers in front of hundreds. He also acts with Tichina Arnold in “The Neighborhood.”
7. Stan Winters (Garrett Morris)
Garrett Morris made history as the first Black cast member to appear on “Saturday Night Live.” From 1975 to 1980, the actor and comedian performed a variety of skits, paving the way for many more comics to come.
Beyond “SNL,” Morris scored recurring roles in shows such as “General Hospital,” “The Jeffersons,” “The Twilight Zone” and more. Some movies he was featured in include Cooley High, How High, Who’s Your Caddy? and the list goes on.
While being a background character on “Martin,” Morris was simultaneously starring on “The Jamie Foxx Show,” where he played the owner of a Los Angeles hotel.
These days, Morris keeps his hundreds of thousands of social media followers updated on his life by posting selfies. Whether he’s doing voice work in the studio or flexing in his alma mater’s hoodie, Morris knows how to keep his audience intrigued.
Morris also frequently does interviews where he talks about his many years of experience in the industry. In a compelling sit-down with VladTV in October 2023, the respected thespian revealed that he got shot in an attempted robbery during his time on “Martin.”
8. Bruh-Man (Reginald Ballard)
Before becoming the beloved Bruh-Man from the fifth floor, Reginald Ballard had dreams of a career in professional football. He was one of the best linebackers in the nation while in high school, and he was granted a full scholarship to play for Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. After the team was suspended due to illegal recruiting violations, he transferred to University of Missouri and majored in theater.
Roles in the ’90s classics Menace II Society and Class Act set the stage for his success on “Martin.” He appeared on 13 episodes of the sitcom, which created more avenues for his talent to flourish.
His television journey continued with appearances in hit shows like “The Parkers,” “Sister, Sister,” “Malcolm & Eddie,” “The Bernie Mac Show” and more. Ballard also ventured into stand-up comedy, showcasing his versatility.
Ballard is still making his rounds in the industry. Hosting the podcast “Rich People’s Business,” he delves into discussions about entrepreneurship. Throughout his career, acting has remained a constant, with Ballard starring in the play “He Fine… But Is He Saved” in October of 2023.
And, of course, comedy still holds a place in his heart, as he regularly does shows across the country.
9. Nipsey (Sean Lampkin)
Sean Lampkin shared an enduring professional relationship with Martin Lawrence, serving as his assistant during the filming of movies such as Black Knight, Nothing to Lose, and Blue Streak.
His dedication didn’t go unnoticed. Lampkin transitioned from behind-the-scenes support to on-screen work with the role of Nipsey, the kind-spirited bar owner on “Martin.”
Even after the show ended, Lampkin stuck beside Lawrence and earned appearances in films associated with the acclaimed actor. He played the cab driver in Big Momma’s House, the trustee in Life, and the pest control man in Bad Boys.
Lampkin passed away on March 8, 2023. His cause of death is unknown. He was 54 years old.
10. Angry Man (David Jean Thomas)
David Jean Thomas, better known as Angry Man, may not have had many lines, but his immense presence on the show made him iconic amongst the others.
Besides being on “Martin,” Thomas made noteworthy appearances in works including Fight Club, “In Living Color,” “General Hospital ,” and “ The Young Riders.”
Venturing into the 21st Century, Thomas continued to captivate screens by being in G.I. Joe in 2009 and Somewhere in 2010. In 2013, Thomas appeared alongside Adrienne Bailon and Ja Rule in I’m In Love With a Church Girl.
11. Ms. Geri (Jeri Gray)
Hailing from Georgia and born in 1925, Jeri Gray was most known for her role on “Martin” as the stern and confident elderly woman who lived in his and Gina’s apartment complex.
Her talent extended beyond the series, as she went on to pop up in another iconic Black sitcom, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” She also played a club owner in the 1993 film Short Cuts.
Gray died of a heart attack on Aug. 8, 1997 in Los Angeles, California. She was 72 years old.
12. Shawn McDermott (Jon Gries)
Jon Gries’ work commenced far before he played Shawn, the airheaded producer for Martin’s radio show, stemming back to 1967 when he appeared in Will Penny and later in 1976 when he played in the movie Born of Water.
A key influence on his path was his father, Tom Gries, a renowned director and film writer. Jon went on to have a stellar acting career. From having minor roles in films like Men In Black, Napoleon Dynamite and Taken 2 and 3, to being a recurring cast member on shows such as “The Bridge” and “The Pretender,” he’s proven to be a diverse actor.
Aside from traditional films and television shows, in 2012, he played the voice of Skurky on the video game Hitman: Absolution.
In July 2021, Jon began the role of Greg Hunt in the HBO show “The White Lotus .” He and the cast won the 2023 SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.