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Martin Fitzgerald Lawrence (born April 16, 1965) is an American actor, comedian, director, and producer. He came to fame during the 1990s, establishing a Hollywoodmarker career as a leading actor. Lawrence has acted in numerous movie roles and starred in his own television series, Martin, which ran from 1992 to 1997.

Early life

Martin Lawrence born in Frankfurt am Mainmarker, West Germanymarker, where his father, John Lawrence, served in the U.S. Military. After his parents divorced in 1973, Lawrence rarely saw his father, who worked as a police officer at the time. His mother, Chlora, began working several jobs to support her family. During his teen years, Lawrence excelled at boxing. While living in Maryland, he attended Thomas G. Pullen School of Creative and Performing Arts (Landover, Marylandmarker), Fairmont Heights High School (Fairmount Heights, Marylandmarker), Eleanor Roosevelt High School and also Friendly High School in Fort Washington, Marylandmarker, becoming a Mid-Atlantic Golden Gloves boxing contender.

Lawrence moved to Los Angeles and found his way to the legendary Kings Wood comedy club. Shortly after appearing at the Wood, he won a performance spot on Star Search, a popular show in the United States. He did well on the show and made it to the final round before ultimately losing. However, executives at Columbia TriStar Television saw Martin's performance and offered him an appearance on the television sitcom What's Happening Now!!; this was his first acting job. Following What's Happening Now!!, Lawrence had bit parts in various films and television roles before entertainment mogul Russell Simmons personally selected him to host the groundbreaking series Def Comedy Jam on HBO. Def Comedy Jam gave many comedians (including Chris Tucker, Dave Chappelle, Bernie Mac and Cedric the Entertainer) mainstream exposure. In 1990, before Def Comedy Jam, Martin received a career breakthrough in film when he appeared in the movie-comedy, House Party alongside Christopher "Play" Martin and Christopher "Kid" Reid (popular duo Kid n' Play.) In House Party, Martin's character is "Bilal", the neighborhood DJ, who DJs at the party "Play" throws at his house while his parents are out of town. Tisha Campbell also plays alongside Martin in House Party, House Party 2 & 3, and ultimately co-stars opposite Martin in his hit sitcom, Martin.

During his role in Def Comedy Jam, Lawrence appeared in his own hit series, Martin, which aired on Fox. The show ran from 1992 to 1997 and was an enormous success. "Martin" spearheaded Fox's Thursday line-up, which drew millions of viewers away from NBC's "Must See TV" line-up during its supposed prime. He also hosted Saturday Night Live on February 19, 1994, where he made crude remarks on women's genitalia and personal hygiene; the monologue was completely edited out of reruns and syndicated versions, and Lawrence was banned from the show for the rest of his life. Soon after the banning, "Martin"'s ratings continued to skyrocket so much that FOX became more of a contender against NBC and came closer to being considered among the top television networks. SNL was rumored to invite Martin back to the show months later. He, of course, declined. After Martin ended its run, Lawrence worked on many film projects most of which were in the comedy genre. He often starred in films as the second lead opposite actors including Eddie Murphy, Will Smith, and Tim Robbins. Many of his films were blockbuster at the box office, including Boomerang (1992), Bad Boys (1995), Nothing To Lose (1997), Blue Streak (1999), Life (1999), Big Momma's House (2000) and Bad Boys 2 (2003). He also starred in critical and box office failures including Black Knight (2001) and National Security (2002). His salary increased dramatically to over $10 million per role. He continues to work in film, with his recent films including Big Momma's House 2, which opened #1 at the North American box office and grossed almost $28 million its first weekend, and Wild Hogs (2007), where he played a bored suburbanite looking for adventure on the open road in a biker comedy alongside John Travolta, Tim Allen and William H. Macy.

In 2006, Lawrence appeared on Inside the Actors Studio where he was requested by the studio audience to act out his famous characters he played on his Martin television show. To a great deal of excitement and cheering from the studio audience, Lawrence performed most of his characters again, out of wardrobe and with no lines. The audience became particularly excited when Lawrence acted out his Mama Payne, Sheneneh Jenkins, and Jerome characters. During the interview, when yet another character was named off for him to act out, Lawrence mentioned how he was surprised at how many characters he used to perform on the show. Once his Martin show ended, Lawrence never brought back any of his characters for another TV series or movie.

In 2009, at the BET Awards, he appeared in a spoof trailer for a fictitious movie which featured him as his infamous character Sheneneh, and Jamie Foxx as his infamous character Wanda.

Lawrence has reportedly signed on to star in an upcoming comedy titled Back To Africa. According to Variety, Lawrence will play a working-class man from Queens New York who discovers that he is the heir to the throne of an African country and travels there to claim his birthright. Lawrence will serve as a producer on the film, which will be released via his Runteldat imprint and Alcon Entertainment. A release date for the film has not been revealed.

Personal life

He married Patricia Southall, a former Miss Virginia, in January 1995. They divorced in September 1996. Lawrence has a daughter with Southall named Jasmine Page, born on January 15, 1996. Lawrence also has two other daughters, Lyana and Ameria, born in 2001 and 2003.

In 1996, Lawrence's Martin co-star, Tisha Campbell-Martin, filed a lawsuit against Lawrence and the show's producers for sexual harassment and verbal and physical assaults. HBO Studios settled the lawsuit so the show's final season could be completed. Campbell-Martin agreed to complete the season on the condition that she not appear in any scenes with Lawrence.

While filming A Thin Line Between Love and Hate in the mid-1990s, Lawrence had a violent outburst on the set and began taking psychotropic drugs. He became increasingly erratic and was arrested after he reportedly brandished a pistol and screamed at tourists on Ventura Boulevard in Los Angelesmarker. He was also arrested at Burbank Airportmarker for carrying a loaded gun in his suitcase. In March 1997, Lawrence was arrested again after assaulting a man in a Hollywoodmarker nightclub. Martin was also engaged to Lark Voorhies in 1993.

During August 1999, Lawrence went into a three-day coma after collapsing from heat exhaustion while jogging in 100-degree heat with several layers of heavy clothing. He recovered in the hospital from near death and running a body temperature of 107 °F (41.7 °C), his breathing assisted by a respirator.


Year Title Role Notes
1989 Do The Right Thing Cee
1990 House Party Bilal
1991 Talkin' Dirty After Dark Terry
House Party 2 Bilal
1992 Boomerang Tyler
1994 You So Crazy Himself stand-up acting
executive producer and writer
1995 Bad Boys Marcus Burnett
1996 A Thin Line Between Love and Hate Narrator/Darnell 'Deeny/'D'/D.W.' Wright also director, exc. producer,music supervisor and writer
1997 Nothing to Lose Terrance Paul Davidson
1999 Life Claude Banks
Blue Streak Miles Logan/Detective Malone
2000 Big Momma's House Malcolm Turner/Big Momma also executive producer
2001 What's the Worst That Could Happen? Kevin Caffery
Black Knight Jamal Walker/Skywalker
2002 Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat Himself also executive producer
stand-up acting/writer
2003 National Security Earl Montgomery also executive producer
Bad Boys II Marcus Burnett
2005 Rebound Roy McCormick/Preacher Don also executive producer
2006 Big Momma's House 2 Malcolm Turner/Big Momma
Open Season Boog voice
2007 Wild Hogs Bobby Davis
2008 Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins Dr. RJ Stevens/Roscoe Steven Jenkins, Jr.
College Road Trip Chief James Porter



Year Album Chart Positions
US US Hip-Hop
1993 Martin Lawrence Live Talkin' Shit 76 10
1995 Funk It - 35

Awards and nominations

  • Blockbuster Entertainment Award
    • nominated with Eddie Murphy for Favorite Comedy Team (2000) for the movie Life
    • nominated for Favorite Actor (2001) for the movie Big Momma's House
  • NAACP Image Award
    • won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (1995) for the series Martin
    • won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (1996) for the series Martin
    • nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (1997) for the series Martin
  • Kids' Choice Award
    • nominated for Favorite Television Actor (1995) for the series Martin
    • nominated for Favorite Television Actor (1996) for the series Martin
    • nominated for Favorite Movie Actor (2001) for the movie Big Momma's House
  • MTV Movie Award
    • nominated with Will Smith for Best On-Screen Duo (1996) for the movie Bad Boys
    • nominated for the movie Big Momma's House
    • nominated with Will Smith for Best On-Screen Team (2003) for the movie Bad Boys II
  • ShoWest - Male Star of Tomorrow (1995)
  • Teen Choice Award - nominated for Wipeout Scene of the Summer (2000) for the movie Big Momma's House
  • BET Comedy Award - won Icon Comedy Award (2005)


  1. Stated in interview on Inside the Actors Studio
  2. Martin Lawrence Biography (1965-)

External links

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