Martin Fitzgerald Lawrence[1] (born April 16, 1965) is an American actor and comedian. He came to fame during the 1990s, establishing a Hollywood career as a leading actor. He got his start playing Maurice Warfield in What's Happening Now!! (1987–1988). He was a leading actor in the Fox television sitcom Martin, the Bad Boys franchise, and House Party, Boomerang, A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, Nothing to Lose, Life, Blue Streak, Big Momma's House, Black Knight, Open Season, and Wild Hogs.

Martin Lawrence
Lawrence in 2013
Birth nameMartin Fitzgerald Lawrence
Born (1965-04-16) April 16, 1965 (age 59)
Frankfurt, Hesse, West Germany (now Germany)
Years active1987–present
(m. 1995; div. 1997)
Shamicka Gibbs
(m. 2010; div. 2012)
Notable works and roles

Early life

The fourth of six children, Martin Fitzgerald Lawrence was born on April 16, 1965, in Frankfurt, West Germany. His father, John Lawrence, was serving in the U.S. military at the time of his birth.[1] Lawrence's first and middle names were named after civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and U.S. President John F. Kennedy, respectively.[1] When Lawrence was seven, his father left the military, and the family moved from West Germany back to the United States, settling in the Washington D.C. area in the town of Landover, Maryland. Lawrence mother had moved her and her six children into the troubled King Square housing projects where he would attend Dodge Park Elementary.[1] Following his parents' divorce when he was eight years old, Lawrence rarely saw his father, who was a police officer, serving as the Police Chief for the Franklin D. Roosevelt VA Medical Center in Montrose, New York.[2] His mother, Chlora (née Bailey), worked several jobs, including as a sales representative and cashier at various department stores to support her family.[3][4] Small for his size growing up in the projects, Lawrence often engaged in street fights with other kids. He stated that it was his mother and older brothers that kept him out of jail where most of his childhood friend ended up. During his teen years, Lawrence excelled at boxing.[1] While living in Fort Washington, Maryland, Lawrence attended Eleanor Roosevelt High School[1] and Friendly High School, and became a Mid-Atlantic Golden Gloves boxing contender.[5]


In his early days, Lawrence did comedy shows in the Washington, D.C., area and supported himself through odd jobs. Comedian Ritch Snyder saw his act and suggested Lawrence make connections in New York.[6] Lawrence ended up moving to New York City and found his way to the comedy club The Improv. Shortly after appearing at The Improv, Lawrence won a performance spot on Star Search.[1] He did well on the show and made it to the final round, but did not win. However, executives at Columbia Pictures Television saw Martin's performance and offered him the role of Maurice Warfield in What's Happening Now!!; this was his first acting job.[1] Upon cancellation of that show, Lawrence found bit parts in various films and television series. His breakthrough role was as Cee in Do the Right Thing. Other film roles followed, such as House Party, House Party 2, Talkin' Dirty After Dark, and the Eddie Murphy vehicle Boomerang. During this period, entertainment mogul Russell Simmons selected him to host the groundbreaking series Def Comedy Jam on HBO. Def Comedy Jam gave many comedians (including Chris Tucker, Dave Chappelle, Mike Epps, Bernie Mac and Cedric the Entertainer) mainstream exposure.

During his stint with Def Comedy Jam, Lawrence appeared in his own hit series, Martin, which aired on Fox.[1] The show ran from 1992 to 1997 and was an enormous success. Martin was the flagship of Fox's Thursday night line-up, which drew millions of viewers away from NBC's "Must See TV" line-up. He hosted Saturday Night Live on February 19, 1994, where he made crude remarks about women's genitalia and personal hygiene; the offensive portion of the monologue was edited out of NBC reruns and syndicated versions and Lawrence was banned from NBC for a period of time until he received an apology from the President of NBC at the time Warren Littlefield.[7]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. In 1995 he acted alongside Will Smith in Bad Boys with wide success.

After Martin ended its run in 1997, Lawrence found work in comedy films. He often starred as the second lead opposite actors including Eddie Murphy, Danny DeVito, and Tim Robbins.[1] Many of his films were blockbusters at the box office, including Nothing to Lose, Life, Blue Streak, Big Momma's House, and Bad Boys II. He also starred in critical and box office failures, including Black Knight and National Security. Regardless, his salary steadily increased to over $10 million per film role. He continued to work in film, with such films as Big Momma's House 2, which opened at No. 1 at North American box office and grossed almost $28 million its first weekend,[8] and Wild Hogs (2007), in which he played a bored suburbanite seeking 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, during which Lawrence briefly brought back to life some of the characters he had portrayed on Martin. He also appeared in Open Season as the voice of Boog, one of the main characters of the film, which also starred Ashton Kutcher, Debra Messing, and Gary Sinise.

In 2008, Lawrence starred in his first G-rated film, Walt Disney Pictures' College Road Trip, in which he co-starred with Raven-Symoné.

In 2011, Lawrence reprised his role as FBI agent Malcolm Turner in Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, the third film in the Big Momma series.[9]

In January 2013, it was announced that Lawrence and Kelsey Grammer were considering pairing up to star in a comedy for Lionsgate Television. Partners, paired the two actors as Chicago lawyers from "vastly different backgrounds who unexpectedly meet in court on the worst day of their lives." The show premiered on August 4, 2014, but was cancelled after one season after receiving poor reviews.[10]

In 2020, Lawrence reprised his role as Detective Marcus Burnett in the third installment of the Bad Boys franchise, Bad Boys for Life, again alongside Will Smith. The film was considered a financial success, grossing $112 million in its first four days of release.[11]

Lawrence starred in his first dramatic role in 2022's Mindcage alongside Melissa Roxburgh and John Malkovich.

On April 20, 2023, Lawrence earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[12]

Personal life

Relationships and family

Lawrence was engaged to actress Lark Voorhies in 1993. He married Miss Virginia USA, Patricia Southall, in 1995. Lawrence and Southall have a daughter, Jasmine Page (born January 15, 1996). They divorced in 1997, and Lawrence began a relationship with Shamicka Gibbs. The couple married on July 10, 2010, at Lawrence's Beverly Hills home. Actors Eddie Murphy and Denzel Washington were among the 120 wedding guests;[13] Lawrence and Gibbs have two daughters, Iyanna Faith (born November 9, 2000) and Amara Trinity (born August 20, 2002).[14] On April 25, 2012, Lawrence filed for divorce from Gibbs, citing irreconcilable differences and asking for joint legal and physical custody of the children.[15]

Lawrence owns a farm near Purcellville, Virginia.[16][17] For several years, he owned a large mansion in the Beverly Park community in Beverly Hills, where he wedded Gibbs. However, following their divorce, the property was available for lease at $200,000 per month in June 2012.[18] In 2013, the property was up for sale for $26.5 million, and eventually he sold it for $17.2 million to Bruce Makowsky, buying an Encino, Los Angeles property for $6.63 million.[19]

Arrests, lawsuits and health problems

In July 1995, while on the set filming A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, Lawrence lashed out in a violent rage and was then hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.[20]

On May 8, 1996, he became increasingly erratic and was arrested after he brandished a pistol in the middle of an intersection on Ventura Boulevard in Los Angeles, screaming, "They're trying to kill me!" He was again hospitalized, with his public-relations agent citing exhaustion and dehydration as the reasons for this episode.[1] On July 29, 1996, he tried to take a gun on a flight and received two years probation and a fine.[21]

In January 1997, Lawrence's Martin co-star Tisha Campbell-Martin filed a lawsuit against him, alleging sexual harassment and abuse both on and off set.[22] By April 1997, Campbell had settled the lawsuit, and returned to appear in the last two episodes of the series.[23]

In March 1997, Lawrence was arrested after punching a man in a Hollywood nightclub.[1]

During August 1999, Lawrence slipped into a three-day coma after collapsing from heat exhaustion while jogging in 100 °F (38 °C) heat in preparation for Big Momma's House while wearing heavy clothing and a "plastic suit".[1][24] He recovered in the hospital after entering a near fatal coma due to a body temperature of 107 °F (42 °C), his breathing assisted by a ventilator.[25]



Year Title Role Notes
1989 Do the Right Thing Cee
1990 House Party Bilal
1991 Talkin' Dirty After Dark Terry Lumbar
House Party 2 Bilal
1992 Boomerang Tyler Hawkins
1994 You So Crazy Martin Stand-up film
Executive producer and writer
1995 Bad Boys Detective Marcus Burnett Nominated - MTV Movie Award for Best On-Screen Duo (with Will Smith)
Nominated - MTV Movie Award for Best Action Sequence
1996 A Thin Line Between Love and Hate Darnell Wright Also director
Narrator, executive producer, writer and music supervisor
1997 Nothing to Lose Terrence "T-Paul" Paul Davidson
1999 Life Claude Banks Nominated - Blockbuster Entertainment Awards for Favorite Comedy Team (with Eddie Murphy)
Nominated - NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Motion Picture
Blue Streak Miles Logan/Detective Malone
2000 Big Momma's House Malcolm Turner/Big Momma Also executive producer
Nominated - Blockbuster Entertainment Awards for Favorite Actor - Comedy
Nominated - Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Wipeout
Nominated - MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance
Nominated - Kids' Choice Awards for Favorite Movie Actor
2001 What's the Worst That Could Happen? Kevin Caffrey Also executive producer
Black Knight Jamal Walker/Skywalker Also executive producer
2002 Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat Martin Stand-up film
Also executive producer and writer
2003 National Security Earl Montgomery Also executive producer
Bad Boys II Detective Marcus Burnett Nominated - MTV Movie Award for Best On-Screen Duo (shared with Will Smith)
2005 Rebound Coach Roy McCormick/
Preachor Don
Also executive producer
2006 Big Momma's House 2 Malcolm Turner/Big Momma Also executive producer
Open Season Boog Voice only
2007 Wild Hogs Bobby Davis
2008 Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins RJ Stevens/Roscoe Jenkins, Jr.
College Road Trip Chief James Porter
Tropic Thunder The Dude Cameo
2010 Death at a Funeral Ryan Barnes
2011 Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son Malcolm Turner/Big Momma
2016 Martin Lawrence: Doin' Time Martin Stand-up film
Also writer
2019 The Beach Bum Captain Wack
2020 Bad Boys for Life Detective Marcus Burnett
2022 Mindcage Jake Doyle
2024 Bad Boys: Ride or Die Detective Marcus Burnett


Year Title Role Notes
1987–1988 What's Happening Now!! Maurice Warfield 22 episodes
1989 A Little Bit Strange Sydney Masterson Unsold pilot
1990 Kid 'n Play Wiz, Hurbie Voice
1990 Hammer, Slammer, & Slade Willie Television film
1991 Private Times Mike Unaired pilot
1992–1993 Def Comedy Jam Himself (host)
1992-1997 Martin Martin Payne and other various characters 132 episodes
1994 Saturday Night Live Himself (host) Episode: "Martin Lawrence/Crash Test Dummies"
2010–2011 Love That Girl! Executive producer
2012 Untitled Martin Lawrence / CBS Sitcom Ray Barker Unsold pilot
2014 The Soul Man Crazy Rudy Episode: "All the Way Live"
2014 Partners Marcus Jackson 10 episodes


Years 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 film Life
    • nominated for Favorite Actor (2001) for the film 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 film Big Momma's House
  • MTV Movie Award
    • nominated with Will Smith for Best On-Screen Duo (1996) for the film Bad Boys
    • nominated for the film Big Momma's House
    • nominated with Will Smith for Best On-Screen Team (2003) for the film Bad Boys II
  • ShoWest – Male Star of Tomorrow (1995)
  • Teen Choice Award – nominated for Wipeout Scene of the Summer (2000) for the film Big Momma's House
  • BET Comedy Award – won Icon Comedy Award (2005)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Stated in interview on Inside the Actors Studio
  2. ^ "Martin Lawrence Biography – Yahoo! Movies". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved March 26, 2007.
  3. ^ "Martin Lawrence – Profile, Latest News and Related Articles". E! Online. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved March 26, 2007.
  4. ^ "Chlora Lawrence-Crandell" Archived April 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. The Transylvania Times.
  5. ^ Duffy, Mike (August 26, 1992). "Comic parlays stand-up act into sitcom". The Tampa Tribune. p. 4 – via NewsBank.
  6. ^ Creamer, M. (1999). "Lawrence, Martin". Current Biography. 60 (10): 32–35.
  7. ^ Will Smith & Martin Lawrence Talk 'Bad Boys' Trilogy, Growth, Regrets + More, archived from the original on December 12, 2021, retrieved October 26, 2021
  8. ^ "Yahoo! Movies – Weekend Box Office and Buzz". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved March 26, 2007.
  9. ^ Heritage, Stuart (November 10, 2010). "Big Momma's House 3: once, twice, three times a fake lady". The Guardian.
  10. ^ "Martin Lawrence & Kelsey Grammer In 'Partners': Critics Slam New Series". Hollywood Life. August 5, 2014. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  11. ^ "Everything We Know (So Far) About Bad Boys For Life". ScreenRant. June 14, 2019. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  12. ^ "Martin Lawrence receives star on Hollywood Walk of Fame". NBC News. April 21, 2023. Retrieved June 17, 2023.
  13. ^ Wihlborg, Ulrica (July 10, 2010). "Martin Lawrence Ties the Knot". People. Retrieved July 10, 2010.
  14. ^ "Martin Lawrence Files for Divorce". TMZ. April 30, 2012. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  15. ^ Laudidio, Marisa (April 24, 2012). "Martin Lawrence and Wife are Divorcing". People.
  16. ^ The Reliable Source (August 7, 2009). "Hey, Isn't That...?". The Washington Post.
  17. ^ "Geese Give Martin Lawrence a Goose". TMZ. July 31, 2008.
  18. ^ David, Mark (June 15, 2012). "Martin Lawrence To Let Bev Hills Mansion". Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  19. ^ David, Mark (June 20, 2013). "Martin Lawrence Downsizes in Encino". Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  20. ^ Lang, Steven (May 12, 1997). "Disorderly Conduct". People. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
  21. ^ "5 Famous Gun-Toting Celebs in the '90s". Entertainment Weekly. No. 540. Spring 2000. p. 90.
  22. ^ "Tisha Campbell Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Martin Lawrence". Jet. Chicago, Illinois. January 27, 1997. Retrieved March 15, 2018 – via Google Books.
  23. ^ "Martin Lawternce Ends Sitcom, 'Martin', In Fifth Season". Jet. Chicago, Illinois. April 28, 1997. Retrieved March 15, 2018 – via Google Books.
  24. ^ Martin Lawrence on Conan, retrieved July 16, 2015
  25. ^ Metcalfe, Coll (August 26, 1999). "Actor Martin Lawrence Comes Out of Coma". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 3, 2015.

External links