Christopher Martin is an actor, a radio host, and a mentor but most importantly he is a kind and humble soul. You may recognize him as Jordan’s dad in ‘Little’ the Will Packer Film starring Marsai Martin (no relation), Issa Rae, and Regina Hall or maybe from his breakout role in the independent film, ‘All That Matters’.
Regardless of where you know him from, you will be seeing more of him in his new role in Bounce TV’s Finding Happy. Finding Happy is a half-hour comedy that follows the black female experience through the unfulfilled life of ATLien, Yaz Carter, beginning with her unhappy birthday. We caught up with Christopher to learn about his acting journey, how he prioritizes his mental health, and the legacy he will leave behind.
BRIANNA LAREN: What did you want to be growing up?
CHRISTOPHER MARTIN: I wanted to be a lawyer. I saw Blair Underwood on L.A. Law and he was so sharp, I wanted to be like that. I had a football scholarship to Kansas State University, and I was all gung ho. My freshman semester I took Political Science, and I knew after 3 weeks I did not want to be a lawyer.
BRIANNA: Once you realized you didn’t want to be a lawyer what led you to acting?
MARTIN: My first semester I partied and had a good time so, I basically flunked everything mainly because I was never in class. I got the lecture from coach and my parents that I had to get eligible. I needed to take whatever I could to get my GPA up so I could pass. My second semester I stumbled onto the school of Broadcast Journalism. I saw [the classes] Radio 1, TV 1, Acting 1. I thought, oh I can do that. And when I got in those classes it was over. I knew what I wanted to do.
BRIANNA: How has your acting journey been so far?
MARTIN: It has been a fun one. When I first got started in the business it was on the broadcast side, I was a sports anchor and a radio disc jockey. That was my claim to fame and where it all started. So, my journey as an actor was always fun and light, nothing major because I was just having fun with it. But when I came to Atlanta in 2009, I wanted to focus more on the acting and that’s where it became more serious. Like, hey man, you have to get an agent, you have to study these lines and read about the character, Chris.
BRIANNA: How was acting different from what you had been doing in your broadcast and career?
MARTIN: As an MC and a host it’s just me freewheeling but I had to learn that these characters have a feeling and a life behind them. Read the script, read the character, and spend the time. It went from fun to more serious and really became a business for me. I got with a talent agency in Atlanta and put acting more at the forefront.
BRIANNA: Do you remember your first “Yes”?
MARTIN: It was in St. Louis where I lived before I moved here [Atlanta] for this movie Soul of the Game on HBO. It had to do with the Jackie Robinson story before Jackie got to the Dodgers. It dealt with him, Satchel Page, and Josh Gibson who were the three main ones who were looked at to break the color barrier in baseball. I played a baseball player on Josh Gibson’s’ team and I had one line. I said “TAXI!” And when they told me I got that you couldn’t have told me nothin!
BRIANNA: Did getting the part in the HBO movie confirm for you that acting was what you were meant to be doing?
MARTIN: It was partly confirmation. I already had an established presence through radio but to get a movie, an HBO film. This was when HBO films first started back in the 90’s… original films. That’s when I knew yea man this is more than a local commercial, I can do this.
BRIANNA: Although you got a yes that time, we know that’s not always the case. In an industry that is filled with a lot of “no’s” and pressure, how do you combat that and make sure you’re prioritizing your mental health?
MARTIN: Great question. To be honest, I was in some counseling in my late 20’s to figure out and to further deal with some stuff that I had down inside of me that I didn’t even really know I had. I’m fortunate that I did that earlier in my life and not let it build up and fester to where I am now. And I had some good parents who were willing to take those steps with me to help me be a better person and how to deal with different struggles in life.
The struggles of being an actor like with rejection and not getting every audition, I am happy and carefree about it because what I’ve been through versus not getting an audition pales in comparison. I do daily meditation and I hang around positive people. I rarely have bad days but if that happens, I talk to somebody like a good friend that’s stable around me. Communicate those things, pray to the guy upstairs, and try to keep it moving.
BRIANNA: What advice do you have for aspiring actors?
MARTIN: Be true to yourself and realize that it doesn’t happen overnight. And when I say be true to yourself, I tell a lot of actresses you don’t have to do anything that makes you uncomfortable. If this is something you’re going to regret down the line and you know that in your mind, then don’t do it. Because in the long run it’s you that must look at yourself in the mirror every day. Especially now with social media, stuff can get out there.
It’s a journey, and the people it happens to overnight are so few and far between. And even if you hear those people tell their stories they’re like, “oh you thought it was overnight but let me tell you what it was.” Just know it’s a journey and that’s with anything. You don’t become a lawyer overnight and it’s the same with a doctor, a policeman, and with acting. You have to cut your teeth on plays or small roles and just know that your time will come and be patient. If you’re not patient, you will find yourself doing things outside of your own character or morals. Hunker down and be ready for the long haul.
BRIANNA: What do you want your legacy to be?
MARTIN: That I was a good person but that I was helpful to my fellow man. I gave back to the village; I don’t have any kids so I mentor and help a lot of people and try to enrich the youth. I try to give them the wealth of my experience. He helped the village and he helped elevate his people whether it was with my time, money, or my words.
BRIANNA: What is one question that no one ever asks you during interviews but you wish they did?
MARTIN: Nobody ever asks me about my dating life [insert a hearty laugh]. I’m single and out here to mingle. I’m looking for a good woman. If the good Lord makes that happen, then it will happen.