“Real men know how to listen, and real men know how to be honest.” (People Magazine, 2000)

“I honestly believe there are good things happening in this world, and I’ll spend most of my time trying to find them and bring them to light.”

“I want to be remembered as a great actor – and a shining example of humanity.”

“Go back to what’s good, what’s certain, what’s always there. You woke up today. Just start walking. Whatever it is, it’ll pass. Time doesn’t go backward. That’s the one real blessing. It happened; it does you no good to worry. Keep it movin’.” (Men’s Health)

“Trusting my own instincts has led me to great places. When I was younger, someone telling me I couldn’t do something was like saying, ‘Try.’ You get mad at them and yourself, because they make you think, I don’t know if I really can do it. Maybe they’re right. Then the anger feeds you, and next thing you know, you’ve done exactly what they said you wouldn’t do, and a little more. ” (Men’s Health)

“There’s always that element that it could not work out no matter how good you are, or it might work out even though you weren’t ready for it. Be prepared for surprises.” (Men’s Health)

“We looked like some ragtag gang. Like we should have slingshots in our back pockets, and frogs.” (On the original cast of RENT and their overalls) [Entertainment Weekly]

(In response to what were you like as an NYU student) “ I was way too serious as a student. If I could give myself some advice, I would have said, ‘Calm down, you’re going to be all right. You’re studying theater, how hard could it be?”  (NY Magazine)

(About the film version of RENT) “I was proud of the movie. I thought everybody there did a really good job. It obviously didn’t do what people were expecting at the box office. But I think the thing stands up. I think the movie really does stand up.”  (Entertainment Weekly)

(On Jerry Orbach) “He certainly had a whole lot more war stories then I did…the wealth of knowledge that I gained from being next to him 14 hours a day is invaluable, and he literally taught me everything there was to know, I mean he was literally the Prince of New York theatre and I got to work with him every single day.”  (Interview with Paul Fisher)

“ I can’t say that I knew I’d be famous — but I knew I’d be successful. ‘Cause I wasn’t gonna give up — ever. Ever. ” (Elle Magazine, February 2000)

“I have such reverence for teachers, I grew up and I had some of the most dedicated and generous educators and I know for a fact that now it is very difficult to just be a teacher.”  (Interview with Paul Fisher)

“Everyone in RENT is sort of raw. We don’t have that shiny, happy mentality that is typical of the music-theatre crowd. There’s a lot of me in Tom Collins. I remember Jonathan had this specific idea that Tom Collins reminded him of Tom Waits – a grizzled character, just a big mess with a heart of gold.”  (RENT Bible, page 145)

“Being in RENT has changed how I feel about singing. I used to think that in musicals you had to be a completely different kind of actor. You don’t. Musicals can actually be more expressive than straight drama. That’s opened me up in a way, but in another way it’s put a lot of pressure on me, because people see the show and say that you’re amazing, but whatever they see you do next has to be equally amazing. Although I’d rather be in that position than not. I’m lucky; working with such a talented group of people has brought out the best of me.” (RENT Bible, page 145)

From the Law & Order set tour (2004):
Jerry Orbach: This is Jesse Martin, my room may be slightly bigger than his, but his is infinitely prettier than mine.
Jesse L. Martin: It’s not, at all, like his wife came in here and put his room together, I ain’t got no wife so my room looks straight ghetto.
Jerry Orbach: Let’s see how his room looks.
Jesse L. Martin: *while running to his room* I have to make sure it’s not really ghetto.
Jesse L. Martin: *in his room* Yeah, it’s pretty ghetto.

(On RENT) “I really don’t even think about this as a musical” RENT is not simply a diversion. “You go outside and see the people you’re playing out on the street. That keeps you from going too far from reality in here.” (Source)

(On being a new sex symbol, in 1999) “It sure doesn’t feel back, and I’m grateful for it, But I really don’t want to focus on it.” (Source)

Top three career highlights (at the time of the interview in 2003) “First would definitely be the first time I was ever onstage, way back in the fourth grade. The second would be the moment I figured out that I could make a living doing it, which is when I was in the Acting Company…the third would have to be Rent. As far as theatrical experiences go, it doesn’t get better than that. I don’t think it can ever be topped.” (Source)

“Rosario [Dawson] and Tracie [Thoms] found a way to become part of our family almost instantaneously. They fit like a glove. I’m so glad they were there because I got to make two new friends as well. Rosario and Tracie fund a way to become part of our family almost instantaneously. They fit like a glove. I’m so glad they were there because I got to make two new friends as well.” – Jet, November 28 2005, page 63.

(About the Marvin Gaye biopic) “(Making the film is) impossible. It’s just not…I don’t know (if it’ll happen). I mean, I just sort of threw that one up to the universe and said, ‘If it’s meant to be, it’ll be,’ but it seems impossible to put together, it really does. It just hasn’t happened…There’s five or six (other Gaye projects) in the works. I actually feel less pressure. There’s so many stories out there trying to happen that it just seems like it might be impossible. Nobody’s done it yet. We haven’t done it, nobody else has either, so there seems to be a reason you haven’t see that story on the big screen yet. I don’t know what it is, but we’re gonna have to change tactics and do it on stage, or something like that. That would actually be a  great idea. So we’ll see, we’ll see.” (Source)

Quotes about Martin

“Jesse is a true artistic Renaissance man…Anything he wants to do not only does he do it better but he does it better than anyone you’ve ever seen.” – Christopher Columbus (Source)

“I had the privilege of meeting him and dancing with him. He’s handsome and a gentleman to boot, which is the icing on the cake.” – Debra Messing (Source)

“Jesse L. Martin is proof that talent and popularity are not mutually exclusive. When the award-winning stage actor joined the cast of NBC’s Law and Order in its tenth season, the program’s already high ratings increased by 40 percent. Martin’s debut episode drew the largest audience in Law and Order’s history and positive press attracted more viewers throughout the season. The once starving artist is now both a critic’s darling and one of T.V. Guide’s “Sexiest People on Television,” confirming that he is an actor with genuinely wide appeal.” (Source)

“I predict that if this movie is a hit, that one of the things people will be talking so much about is Jesse blowing people’s minds. They never would have thought that in a million years that he could smile as beautifully as he smiles, let alone sing and dance the way that he can sing and dance and have as much light and joy and charisma and love in him. That’s not what he’s asked to do in ‘Law & Order.’ He’s really great in that show, but it doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of what he’s capable of.” – Anthony Rapp (Source)