Teen stars Marsai Martin and Millie Bobby Brown getting an early start on their producing careers

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Marsai Martin in “Little”

As Hollywood continues to come up well short in terms of gender parity behind the camera, a couple of girls are stepping up to run the world.

Teen stars Marsai Martin, the vivacious 14-year-old who plays sassy Diane on the ABC sitcom “Black-ish” and Millie Bobby Brown, the charismatic 14-year-old Brit who embodies the superpowered Eleven on Netflix’s sci-fi horror series “Stranger Things,” are taking on the role of film producers.

According to The Root, Martin will take the title of the youngest executive producer of a major Hollywood motion picture in history when the comedy “Little” opens in theaters April 12.

She’s also the co-star and mastermind of the cheeky body-swapping movie in which Regina Hall plays an unapologetically autocratic boss Jordan Sanders, who bullies herself onto the wrong side of some black girl magic and wakes up find herself transformed into a 13-year-old version of herself, played by Martin.

Issa Rae, star of the HBO hit “Insecure,” plays Jordan’s long-suffering assistant, April.

According to The Root, Martin had the idea “Little” when she was just a girl and fell in love with the 1988 Penny Marshall comedy “Big,” starring Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins and Robert Loggia. So, inspired by “Big,” Martin pitched the idea of “Little” to “Black-ish” Executive Producer Kenya Barris when she was only 10 years old.

“It was one of my most favorite films growing up,” Martin told The Root. “After the Season 1 finale of ‘Black-ish,’ we told Kenya Barris about it, and he called Will [Packer] and said: ‘Yo, you know the girl who plays Diane on “Black-ish”? She has this dope idea!’”

Packer, the producer of hit films like “Ride Along” and “Girls Trip,” tells The Root he immediately bought the idea but was astounded at Martin’s maturity, noting that she pitched the idea to the studio.

From Martin’s clever concept, “Little” is shaping up to be a big deal for representation: It’s starring, written by, directed by and produced by black women.

Hall also serves as one of the film’s executive producers. “Drumline” writer Tina Gordon Chism directed “Little” and co-wrote the script with “Girls Trip” scribe Tracy Oliver.

Those numbers are significant, The Root notes, because since 2007, only five of the top 100 grossing films were helmed by black women—and two of those were directed by Ava DuVernay.

“It doesn’t matter if you are 4 or 84, there’s no limit to what you can do,” Martin tells The Root. “And if you prove that you can do it, you don’t have to wait. … A 13-year-old created this film and it turned out to be a wonderful, loving and fulfilling film.”

Millie Bobby Brown

She’s not the only teen girl moving from acting into actively making movies. According to Deadline Hollywood, Legendary Entertainment has made a deal with Brown to star in and produce a feature film series based on Nancy Springer’s “Enola Holmes Mysteries” novel series.

Brown will produce through her PCMA Productions banner. (That’s right, she’s 14 and has her own production shingle.)

The Emmy-nominated “Stranger Things” breakout star developed a relationship with Legendary as she completed a starring role in the Michael Dougherty-directed sequel “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” for Legendary and Warner Bros., according to Deadline.

Springer’s book series began with the 2006 title “The Case of the Missing Marquess,” and it now spans six novels, revolving around mysteries investigated by Enola, the much younger sister of legendary investigators Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. Enola proves a clever detective in her own right, and the first and fifth books in Springers series were nominated for Edgar Awards in 2007 and 2010, respectively.


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