Presidential candidates were in the building. Legendary singers, rappers, and other artists graced stages of the convention center, but the turn out for Marsai Martin at her first Essence Festival Beauty Carnival was remarkable.
The young actress drew a crowd, and rightfully so. It’s not just how gorgeous she is, how perfectly her chocolate skin glistens, how her dimples are more popping than yours, or how dope her drip drips every time she enters a room. All those things are true, but it’s an inner beauty that exudes from the 14-year-old executive producer that makes Black women of all ages want to be in her presence and learn from her.
“I want to show myself in the most positive way possible because of the audience that I have. So I try to be as much of a role model as I can be,” she told festivalgoers on the Beauty Carnival stage Saturday. “Having a great support system really defines who you are and my support team is so bomb! They give the greatest advice. They want let [me] fall.”
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With social media and the incessant desire of the public to consume every experience a celebrity has, it can be hard to resist feeding the machine. For child actors who grow up in front of our eyes, that pressure can be exponential, but Martin is cool about how she’s handling it. She’s not feeling the pressure to “perform” offscreen.
“I am where I should be. I have my whole life ahead of me. I don’t have to act 28 when I’m not going to go back to 14 later on. I’m sticking to where I am,” she joked.
And its important for her to be here. With so many young Black girls still not seeing themselves represented in Hollywood, in entertainment, nor in beauty, Martin’s work and presence are ever so crucial.
“I see young Black girls still [casted] as the first one to die in act one, or they’re the sassy girl and they don’t care about anybody, snatching weaves, or throwing water on people—really stereotyping how we are,” she said. “We can definitely change the narrative and we are starting to do that.”
And while she’s making waves in Hollywood, we’re rooting for Martin on another front. She’s quickly becoming a beauty and style influencer in her own right, documenting her red carpet and events looks on Instagram, though her mature zen and positive spirit are what truly makes you want to lean into her and those dimples. Martin does still have a few beauty go-tos that help keep her camera-ready, however.
Her three must-haves? Anything Fenty Beauty by Rihanna, Chapstick (“With or without makeup that’s perfect”) and positive energy.
“A good attitude shows your true beauty,” she continued. “I’m just me at the end of the day.”
Lip moisturizer, foundation, and good vibes. How’s that for the perfect beauty collaboration?
Essence Festival continues through Sunday.