Though most commonly associated with her multi-season portrayal of marketing executive Gina Waters-Payne, significant other of Martin Payne (Martin Lawrence) on the Fox sitcom Martin (1992-97), Tisha Campbell began her lengthy Hollywood career with a role that film buffs will have little difficulty remembering. Campbell made her feature debut as Chiffon, a member of the black female doo-wop group that acts as a Greek chorus, in the 1986 Frank Oz musical comedy Little Shop of Horrors (1986). An Oklahoma City native, born to a coat factory employee father and a gospel singer mother, Campbell moved with her family to Newark, New Jersey at the age of three, where the entire clan suffered from abject poverty. At age 6, Campbell won a talent contest, and the following year landed a turn in an ABC Afterschool Special entitled Unicorn Tales, as well as a supporting role in the off-Broadway musical Really Rosie. Campbell attended and graduated from Newark's Arts High School, then made the ambitious trek out to Los Angeles (with her family's encouragement) and spent several years surviving numerous television pilots that failed to take off.
Shop, however, rocketed Campbell to national attention and jump-started her film career. She landed additional roles in Spike Lee's School Daze (1988), House Party (1988) (which she also choreographed), and Boomerang (1992). Campbell met future co-star Lawrence on the set of House Party; according to Campbell's later recollections, Lawrence immediately invited her to play his girlfriend should he ever land a sitcom. In 1992, that plan materialized. The program scored sensational ratings and immediately connected with a young, black, urban market; the arc of the series witnessed Gina and Martin transitioning from lovers to intendeds to husband-and-wife. Campbell originally planned to remain with the series through its final season, but actually left Martin several months prematurely, in November of 1996, asserting that Lawrence verbally, physically and sexually abused her on the set of the program - allegations that Lawrence and his representatives aggressively denied, claiming that Campbell was using the actor as a pawn in a contractual dispute with the network despite the fact that the actress left in mid-season.
After her stint on Martin, Campbell signed for supporting roles in a number of low-profile features including Linc's (1998), The Sweetest Gift (1998) and Snitch (1999), then returned to network television briefly as one of the stars of the domestically-themed situation comedy My Wife and Kids (2001).
Campbell is also occasionally credited by her married name of Tisha Campbell-Martin. She enjoyed a brief tenure as a recording artist with a 1993 r&b release entitled Tisha.