After eight hilarious and heartwarming seasons, ABC’s hit family sitcom Black-ish is coming to a close.

Known most for platforming Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson, giving honor to comedic and acting legends like Laurence Fishburne and Jenifer Lewis, and making household names out of young stars like Yara Shahidi and Marcus Scribner, the show has also given its youngest stars the unique experience of growing up in front of a massive audience while growing into young stars and  moguls in their own right. 

Marsai Martin and Miles Brown, who portray Johnson family twins Jack and Diane, have been on-screen consistently since age 10. For each of the still-quite-young actors, coming to the realization that such a big part of their childhoods is coming to a close is still setting in.

“It’s pretty surreal to look back at it,” Martin said of her 7 years on the show. “I think, honestly, it still hasn’t fully processed yet that we’re done.”

For the young actors, Black-ish has been a once-in a lifetime experience, a huge learning opportunity, and a big break most child stars would happily give up their iPad privileges for. They’ve even gotten the unique opportunity to try their hand at method acting since before they could even do trigonometry. 

“One of my favorite things about the show is how the writers have let us [give our input] on what we think the characters should be over time, or just letting the characters be part of us,” Brown shared. He and Martin fondly recalled how they sat down and planned out all sorts of minor details about their characters’ lives from early on in the series – from birthdays, to favorite colors – all in the interest of getting a feel for who these characters are and how to best bring life to them.  

But beyond acting experiences wrapped in childhood fun like those, Martin and Brown have also gotten a front row seat to an acting course that many adults would even love to have. As each of them tell it, growing up with the experience of Lewis, Fishburne, Ellis Ross, and Anderson right at their fingertips has been invaluable.

“I’m not the type of person that really asks for advice, but…I would say how I get my advice is from seeing someone’s work in their craft and how dedicated they are to it,” Martin said. “I think just seeing legends on a set is like no other. Seeing Laurence work every day and Jenifer, the mother of black Hollywood, work every day and Anthony and Tracee giving us pointers throughout the series has been amazing and it’s been a crazy experience, like no other.” 

“From Anthony, I think one of the biggest things was seeing how well he treated everyone on set,” Brown said of the on-set lessions he picked up. “Just seeing how nice he treated everyone, with respect. He greeted everyone. He knew everyone’s first name. Laurence, just how dedicated and how focused he is with his work. That was one thing that I really took in from him.”

Now, equipped with firsthand lessons and years of experience, both Martin and Brown are poised for some pretty big next steps. 

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Already Hollywood’s youngest Executive Producer with a hit comedy under her belt, Martin is remaining booked and busy as Black-ish ends. From starring in Will Packer production StepMonster, Paramount’s Fantasy Football and executive producing Saturdays for Disney Channel, she has many more acting and production projects coming down the pipeline as soon as the curtain closes on this particular chapter. 

“With our production company, we are always working even on the weekends,” Martin says of her busy schedule. “Even when we don’t have to, we are always constantly working and being focused on what’s ahead, what’s for the future, and I am very excited for you guys to see.”

“I’m really getting started into setting up our production company, wanting to just get in to start making new films, TV shows and just bringing my ideas to life,” Brown says of his upcoming plans. On top of filming new projects he can’t quite expound on yet,  Brown has a unique fan-championed campaign running to place him right at the center of the MCU. 

The #MilesForMilesMorales movement is picking up intense momentum to see the young, appropriately-named actor cast as Spider-Man in the live-action adaptation of Into the Spiderverse’s alternate reality web-slinger, Miles Morales. Naturally, Brown is all for it. 

“I want to pursue Miles Morales, so make sure you all keep pushing the agenda for that!” he tells fans directly.  But while using social media to push his Avenger agenda, Brown, much like Martin, is working to stay out of the snares of drama, negativity, and online clapbacks that so many teens and young adults easily slip into. 

“We both have loving families…so we always rant to them instead of going to the internet or going to Instagram or something,” Brown said of social media antics. “So I feel like that’s a big reason why we’ve never really got caught up in something like that.”

“People will say what they want to say and most people never really experienced what we’ve been through so they just say whatever,” Martin added. “We don’t step forward in that and put ourselves in that situation of hatred and negativity. Social media is like that and it’s low key created to tear people down.” 

With strong heads on their shoulders and strong support systems setting wind into their sails, Martin and Brown are primed for stardom in young adulthood. But before all the new projects and bright opportunities the future has to hold becomes the present, these young stars are most excited to share this season’s big moments and bittersweet goodbyes with the show’s day one fans. 

“We are definitely excited,” Brown shared, particularly when it comes to the show’s season opener featuring a cameo from none other than former FLOTUS Michelle Obama.

“I’m definitely excited for you all to cry and laugh,” he added. “I mean, that’s what we did filming the show.”