Martin cast: Where are they now?
The cast of Martin reunited for a special on BET+ in 2022. Find out what the stars have been up to since the show ended in 1997.
Martin, then and now
For five seasons in the mid-'90s, Martin was appointment viewing for sitcom fans, part of a wave of Black comedies that anchored network lineups and developed major stars like Will Smith and Queen Latifah. Martin was so popular, it drew viewers away from NBC's powerhouse Thursday night lineup, lifting Fox to new heights in the ratings. Martin Lawrence played the title character, Martin Payne, who started on the series as a DJ for the fictional Detroit radio station WZUP and later became host of a TV show on Channel 51.
Martin's motormouth and selfishness drove many of the show's plots, as he often had to find a way to solve the problems he created for long-suffering girlfriend Gina (Tisha Campbell), friends Tommy (Thomas Mikal Ford) and Cole (Carl Anthony Payne II), and arch-enemy Pam (Tichina Arnold). Lawrence also created and portrayed an array of memorable characters who would show up at his apartment or around town, including Sheneneh Jenkins, Mama Payne, Otis the security guard, and Jerome the pimp. The show featured a cavalcade of catchphrases that still resonate with fans, from "Wazzup!" to "Damn, Gina!" to "Oh my goooodness."
The laughs turned serious in 1997, however, when Campbell accused Lawrence of sexual harassment and verbal assault, leading to her absence in most of the final season and an awkward end to the show in which Lawrence and Campbell never appeared in any scenes together despite their characters moving to Los Angeles to pursue their careers.
But Lawrence and Campbell appear to have put their issues behind them, as seen in the Martin: The Reunion special which aired on BET+ in 2022. Read on to find out what the cast has been up to since the show went off the air in 1997.
Martin Lawrence (Martin Payne)
Martin Lawrence was already an established comedian, and had priorly appeared in projects like What's Happening Now!! and 1990's House Party, when he had his first breakthrough as the host of HBO's groundbreaking Def Comedy Jam. Lawrence capitalized on his sitcom success by joining forces with Michael Bay and Will Smith in 1995's Bad Boys, starting a run of box office hits that made him a household name even after Martin was over.
Lawrence, though, had a couple of disturbing episodes that sidetracked his career, including waving a gun in the middle of a busy L.A. street in 1996 and suffering a near-fatal coma from heat exhaustion in 1999. He returned to TV on 2014's short-lived Partners, and, in 2020, he reunited with Smith for Bad Boys for Life, a critical and financial success. Lawrence also starred in the B-movie thriller Mindcage (2022).
Tisha Campbell (Gina Waters-Payne)
Like Lawrence, Campbell was already well known in Hollywood when she landed the Martin role of Gina. She had been acting and singing since she was a child, appearing at 17 in the 1986 film version of Little Shop of Horrors and the only-in-the-'80s musical dramedy Rags to Riches. Other early film work included appearances in the House Party film series, School Daze (1988), Another 48 Hrs (1990), and Boomerang (1992).
After her run on Martin, Campbell steadily appeared on TV, including stints on My Wife and Kids, All of Us, Dr. Ken, Empire, and Uncoupled. She's also continued to pursue music, releasing a single, "22 Summers," in 2019. Campbell works consistently in TV movies and voice-over projects, including Harley Quinn and Inside Job.
Tichina Arnold (Pam James)
When Arnold landed the role of no-nonsense Pam on Martin, she too was an industry vet, having appeared alongside Campbell in Little Shop of Horrors and earned a Daytime Emmy nomination for her work on the soap Ryan's Hope. She also acted on All My Children from 1990 to 1991.
In the aftermath of Martin, Arnold maintained a steady pace of work, appearing regularly on the series One on One before starring as the matriarch on the hit CW show Everybody Hates Chris beginning in 2005.
Since 2018, Arnold has been plying her trade on CBS' series The Neighborhood alongside Cedric the Entertainer, although she has found time to appear in films like The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019), Countdown (2019), and The Main Event (2020).
Carl Anthony Payne II (Cole Brown)
As Martin's dim but loyal friend Cole, Carl Anthony Payne II became a fan favorite on Martin, much as he had during his breakthrough role as Theo's friend Cockroach on The Cosby Show.
Like the rest of the cast, Payne has stayed busy working in TV and film in the ensuing years. He's also gotten involved behind the camera, producing the 2019 series Last Call, on which he also starred, and directing the 2022 film Strange Love. Payne had a cameo as himself in 2023's House Party, and can be seen on the Nickelodeon show Tyler Perry's Young Dylan.
Thomas Mikal Ford (Tommy Strawn)
The Martin reunion struck a somber tone in its remembrance of Thomas Mikal Ford, who, as level-headed (but always seemingly between jobs) Tommy, was the only other character besides Martin to appear in every episode of the show.
Ford died in 2016 of a ruptured abdominal aneurysm at 52. He left behind an impressive body of work that not only included roles in films like Harlem Nights (1989) and Class Act (1992), and on shows such as New York Undercover and The Parkers, but also a long career as a motivational speaker and children's book author.
Jon Gries (Shawn McDermott)
Martin's co-workers at WZUP during the early seasons of the show were eased out of the cast when Martin moved over to the TV side. Jon Gries, who played quirky but lovable engineer Shawn, has a long string of appearances as a character actor, though he arguably is most known for playing Uncle Rico in 2004's Napoleon Dynamite.
His additional TV work includes arcs on Lost, The Bridge, Dream Corp LLC, and most notably, The White Lotus as Greg, Tanya's (Jennifer Coolidge) love interest.
Garrett Morris (Stan Winters)
Garrett Morris was already a veteran of TV and movies when he appeared on Martin, having made a name for himself as one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live.
Still going strong all these years later, Morris has appeared on other sitcoms including The Wayans Brothers, had a long run on 2 Broke Girls, and has also guested on This Is Us and Station 19.
Tracy Morgan (Hustle Man)
Tracy Morgan made his TV debut and appeared for several seasons as "Hustle Man," whose off-brand (and usually illegal) wares he often tried to peddle to Martin and his friends.
After leaving Martin in 1996, Morgan would go on to find success on Saturday Night Live. He would later team up with SNL castmate Tina Fey on 30 Rock as the inimitable Tracy Jordan, for which he scored an Emmy nomination. Though a car accident with a Walmart truck in 2014 nearly cost him his life and derailed his career, Morgan recovered and triumphantly bounced back in the years since, wrapping up a four-season run on The Last O.G. in 2021.