'We've done God's work': Martin Lawrence, 'Martin' cast revisit sitcom's legacy 30 years later

·Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment
·2 min read

Martin is back in business this week as cast members Martin Lawrence, Tisha Campbell, Carl Anthony Payne II and Tichina Arnold come together again for a special on BET+ that will also include some surprise guests.

In advance of Thursday’s big reunion, though, Yahoo Entertainment conducted an exclusive virtual interview with the cast of the hit ’90s sitcom comedy (watch above), which aired on Fox for five seasons from 1992 to 1997.

And they’re here for their flowers.

“Three decades in I feel great. When I look at it I feel like our [lives] have not been in vain,” Lawrence says. “I feel like we've done God's work. We made people laugh for years and we continue to make people laugh. And we're doing the work.”

Indeed, Martin wasn’t just reliably hilarious through its 132-episode run following the titular, wise-cracking Detroit DJ, his girlfriend Gina (Campbell) and their coterie of friends, it was groundbreaking as one of the first major sitcoms — after shows like Sanford and Son, Good Times, The Cosby Show, Family Matters and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air — to center around an all-Black cast, and arguably the first major one to focus on young Black professionals and their love lives.

MARTIN, Martin Lawrence, Tisha Campbell, 1992-97, © Warner Bros. / Courtesy: Everett Collection
Martin Lawrence and Tisha Campbell in Martin. (Photo: Warner Bros. / Courtesy: Everett Collection)

As BET CEO Scott Mills said recently, Martin “played a pivotal role in changing the narrative of Black voices in entertainment and in culture through the portrayal of young, ambitious Black leads and healthy Black relationships.”

Its stars second that emotion.

“You had a lot of new beginnings in the '90s,” says Arnold, who played Pam, best friend to Gina. “There were a lot of things birthed in the Black community in the '90s —"

“And we were the parents, we birthed it,” interjects Payne, who drew big laughs as Martin’s friend Cole. “We did that. Trends. Hairstyles… Sayings. Nobody was saying ‘You go, girl!’ or ‘You go, boy!’ before [Martin].”

“All of the euphemisms that came from the show,” adds Campbell.

MARTIN, Thomas Mikal Ford, Tisha Campbell, Martin Lawrence, Tichina Arnold, Carl Anthony Payne, 1992-1997. (c) Warner Bros./ Courtesy: Everett Collection.
Thomas Mikal Ford, Tisha Campbell, Martin Lawrence, Tichina Arnold, Carl Anthony Payne II in Martin. (Photo: Warner Bros./ Courtesy: Everett Collection)

The pride is readily apparent.

“It’s great to be the original of something,” Arnold says. “And to see it 30 years later is dope.”

Watch our full cast interview above.

Martin: The Special streams on BET+ beginning Thursday, June 16.

— Video produced by Anne Lilburn and edited by John Santo

Watch the trailer:

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