My Wife and Kids
American actress and singer Tisha Campbell, also known as Tisha Campbell-Martin, is best recognized for playing Gina Waters-Payne in “Martin” (Fox, 1992-1997) and Janet Kyle in “My Wife and Kids” (ABC, 2001-2005), from which she picked up an Image Award and a BET Comedy Award. She also had roles in NBC's “Rags to Riches” (1987-1988) and Lifetime's “Rita Rocks” (2008-2009) as well as recurring roles on “All of Us” (7 episodes, 2004-2006) and “Everybody Hates Chris” (4 episodes, 2008-2009). She has also appeared in several films, including “Little Shop of Horrors” (1986), “School Daze” (1988), “House Party” (1990, earned an Independent Spirit nomination) and the sequels “House Part 2” (1991) and “House Party 3” (1994), “Sprung” (1997), “The Last Place on Earth” (2002) and “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” (2008). The performer began acting on television and on stage as a child. As a singer, Campbell released her debut album in 1993 called “Tisha” and performed on the soundtracks of “Little Shop of Horrors,” “School Daze” and “Sprung.”
Campbell has been married to Brooklyn born actor Duane Martin since 1996. They have two sons, Xen Martin (born 2001) and Ezekial (born 2009). The family currently resides in Los Angeles.
Campbell is best friends with Tichina Arnold, her former costar in “Martin.” She has also developed a good friendship with actress Vivica A. Fox.
Childhood and Family:
The oldest of four children, Tisha Michelle Campbell was born on October 13, 1968, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to Clifton Campbell, a coat factory worker, and Mona Campbell, a gospel singer. When she was three years old, her family relocated to Newark, New Jersey, where they struggled financially. A gifted youth, Tisha won a talent contest at age 6 and began landing roles in children's shows on stage and television. After graduating from Newark's Arts High School, she headed to Los Angeles to build her career.
Tisha married actor Duane Martin (born August 11, 1965) on August 17, 1996. The couple had a son they named Xen Martin, on August 8, 2001. Their second son, Ezekial Czar Martin, was born on September 8, 2009. Commenting on her son Xen, who has autism, she stated, “Autistic children are extremely bright if you can connect to them and bring them into our world. Socially it's really hard for them, but it can happen. Xen is doing great socially because we caught it very early.”
Tisha Campbell began singing in church as a child. After winning a talent contest, the young girl appeared in various children's television shows, including PBS' “The Big Blue Marble,” “Unicorn Tales,” “Kids Are People Too” and “Captain Kangaroo.” She then auditioned in New York City and landed the starring role in the off-Broadway musical “Really Rosie.” She also appeared in the Broadway plays “Mama, I Want to Sing,” “The Me Nobody Knows” and “Betsey Brown.” Campbell's big break arrived when she landed the role of Chiffon in the musical film adaptation of “Little Shop of Horrors” (1986), which was directed by Frank Oz and starred Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene and Steve Martin.
After moving to Hollywood, Campbell made her television series debut as a regular on the NBC series “Rags to Riches,” where she starred as an adopted child named Marva. Starring Joseph Bologna as Nick Foley, the show ran from March 1987 to January 1988. After the series ended, Campbell was cast as Jane Toussaint in the Spike Lee film “School Daze” (1988), opposite Laurence Fishburne and Giancarlo Esposito, and appeared with Morris Day and Clark Johnson in a failed pilot “Heart and Soul” (also 1988). She went on to appear in the dramatic film “Rooftops” (1989), opposite Jason Gedrick, Troy Beyer and Eddie Velez, the Eddie Murphy/Nick Nolte vehicle “Another 48 Hrs.” (1990), a sequel to the 1982 film “48 Hrs,” and Reginald Hudlin's “Boomerang” (1992, also starred Eddie Murphy). Campbell also offered a notable portrayal of Sidney in “House Party” (1990), a comedy written and directed by Reginald Hudlin. She was nominated for an Independent Spirit for Best Supporting Female for her performance in the movie and reprised the role for the sequels “House Party 2” (1991) and “House Party 3” (1994).
Apart from her film roles, Campbell also worked in various television projects in the early 1990s. She played Jiwanda in the television pilot “Moe's World,” in which she met her future husband, fellow actor Duane Martin, and appeared in episodes of “Shannon's Deal” (1990), “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (1991) and “Roc” (1992). She also had a two episodic role in “A Different World” (1991, as Josie Webb) and “Blossom” (1991, as Toni).
However, Campbell did not enjoy major success until she was cast in the role of Gina Waters, the level-headed and stubborn, but forgiving, girlfriend (later wife) of disc jockey Martin Payne (played by Martin Lawrence) in the popular Fox sitcom “Martin.” Premiering on August 27, 1992, the show quickly appeared as an audience favorite and became one of the networks' highest rated shows throughout its five season run. Campbell, who first met Lawrence on the set of “House Party,” originally planned to stay until the final season but quit in November 1996 and filed a sexual harassment suit against Lawrence and the producers of the show. The suit was eventually settled out of the court and Campbell returned to the series for its final episodes. The actress collected two Image nominations in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on “Martin.” While still working on the show, Campbell launched her debut album, “Tisha,” on January 4, 1993, under Capitol Records. The album enjoyed average success and produced the singles “Push” and “Love Me Down.”
Campbell returned to the big screen with a supporting role in the 1996 action comedy “Snitch,” starring William McNamara, and a voice role in the installment “Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco” (also 1996, as Sledge). The following year, she starred with Rusty Cundieff, Paula Jai Parker and Joe Torry in the comedy “Sprung,” for which she also performed “Don’t Ask My Neighbor” with Tichina Arnold, for the film's soundtrack.
Campbell next guest starred in Fox's sitcom “Between Brothers” (1997) and her husband's series “Getting Personal” (1998). She then appeared in the Showtime television film “The Sweetest Gift” (1998), opposite Helen Shaver and Diahann Carroll) and received a recurring role on Showtime's series “Linch's” (1998), as Rosalee Lincoln. She next played Olivia, Vince's wife, in “The Object of My Affection” (1999), an episode of ABC's short lived “Wasteland,” and Joyce in an episode of “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” called “The Halloween Scene” (2000). She also received an unaccredited part in the 2001 comedy film “Down to Earth,” a remake of the 1978 film “Heaven Can Wait.” It was followed by a starring role in the movie “The Last Place on Earth” (2002), for director/writer James Slocum.
It was also in 2001 that Campbell revisited the television series realm as a regular character on the family sitcom “My Wife and Kids,” which was created by Don Reo and starred Damon Wayans. Portraying Janet Marie Kyle, the matriarch of the Kyle family and mother of three children, opposite Wayans as Michael Richard Kyle, she was nominated for Image Awards in the category of Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series four times and won the award in 2003. She also won a 2004 BET Comedy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and earned a 2005 BET Comedy nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series for her directing effort on the episode “The 'V' Story” (2005). Campbell remained with show from its debut on March 28, 2001, to its cancellation in May 2005.
From 2004 to 2006, Campbell also had a recurring role on the sitcom “All of Us,” which starred her husband. In 2008, she appeared in two episodes of The CW sitcom “Everybody Hates Chris,” a role she reprised in two more episodes in 2009, and made a cameo appearance in “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” a romantic comedy that was written and directed by Kevin Smith and starred Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks. Still in 2008, Campbell also joined Nicole Sullivan, Richard Ruccolo, Natalie Dreyfuss, Kelly Gould and Raviv Ullman to star in the comedy series “Rita Rocks,” which debuted on Lifetime on October 20, 2008. As Patty Mannix, a postal worker and Rita's best friend, she was nominated for Image Awards in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 2009 and 2010. The show was finally canceled in January 2010 because of low ratings.
Recently, in 2010, Campbell appeared with Debra Missing and Carrie Fisher in the television movie “Wright vs. Wrong.” She has also completed filming the motion picture “Pastor Brown” (2010), for director Rockmond Dunbar. She will then portray Miss Reznick in the upcoming Disney Channel Original movie “Lemonade Mouth” (2011), opposite Bridgit Mendler, Adam Hicks and Hayley Kiyoko.
BET Comedy: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, “My Wife and Kids,” 2004
Image: Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series, “My Wife and Kids,” 2003