William Shatner. Chris Pine. Sir Patrick Stewart. Names forever associated with the Star Trek universe.
Add to that list, Sonequa Martin-Green.
She’s the lead on Star Trek Discovery, the newest series which is currently filming its third season. If you haven’t watched her on Star Trek, there’s a good chance you’ll recognize her as Sasha on the Walking Dead. And she was just cast as LeBron James wife in Space Jam 2. Not bad from an actress from Russellville, Alabama.
On this week’s episode of the Reckon Interview we’re talking with Sonequa Martin-Green. She discusses the highs and lows of a career that’s taken her from Alabama to the farthest reaches of the universe. She shares stories from her mom’s cancer scares, her thoughts on being a black lead actress in sci-fi and fantasy, the details she can about Space Jam 2, and how she stays tied to Alabama.
So join us as we boldly go where no one has gone before on this week’s episode of The Reckon Interview.
Here’s an excerpt from the episode to get you started.
Sonequa Martin-Green on Star Trek and sci-fi
I remember seeing someone saying online – and I’ll never forget it – that Star Trek has to make you look toward the future. If it doesn’t make you look toward the future, then it’s not adhering to the very spirit of Star Trek. So that’s what we had to do.
And it was a very, very fine line. And it was very difficult for us to do that. And a lot of people saw a lot of differences between our show and the other iterations of Trek, but that’s what we sort of had to do to keep pushing the needle forward and be relevant to people today and be something that people could look forward to today and see it today as the future, it had to be different, right?
[Self-discovery] is a sort of prevailing theme of the show, right? The discovery of one’s identity through the discovery of the world around you, and everyone else around you, the beings around you. And so I think that journey [of her character to] captain really signifies that in an interesting way. And every character is going through their own journey of self-discovery, and collective discovery.
But for Michael Burnham, a lot of it is in that journey to being captain. But within that journey, is just the journey of finding the balance between these opposing ideals that live within me, as Michael from, you know, being Vulcan versus being human. And battling nature versus nurture, and trying to find that balance, because there’s such as such a strong inner conflict in this woman, which, obviously, is the case for most people
What I love about the sci-fi genre is that the prevailing themes and truths that are presented in sci-fi stories – because the circumstances are so fantastic – I think it allows people to suspend their disbelief much more readily, which then allows them to receive what the underlying message is much more easily.
And, and so that’s why you find so much diversity in these stories. A lot of them are set in the future, a lot of them are set in these really dark times these times where things have been wiped out. And whatever the circumstance is for the story, it’s become a great equalizer, right? And people are now concerned more about what’s really important.
So that’s why I really – I’ve always loved sci-fi – but I now have such a respect for the genre because things are able to be boiled down to what’s really important.
Now that also reveals people’s baser instincts, too. So I think that’s what makes this genre and the stories in it so challenging as well. Because we see the best of ourselves and the worst of ourselves in these stories. And we often see those the extremes, right? We see the extreme best versus the extreme worst, right? And I just think that that’s very good for us to be exposed to stories like that, because then it just makes us have to take a good hard look at ourselves.
On her mother’s cancer diagnoses
It’s one of the things I regret the most in my life is that I was so busy at the time that she was diagnosed the second time. And I — the first time I was very, very young. The first time I was 12. And so she as well as my older sister shielded me a lot from the reality of the situation. And I just knew that that mama was going to be okay. And of course, she was, but I never really had fear at that time.
So then once it once she was diagnosed again, for the second time, that was when I was sort of in the thick of it. And I did what I… I did what I could at the time from afar, but her and I were also struggling just in our relationship as mother and daughter at the time too. There were so many things happening, there was a lot of healing that still needed to happen. There was a lot of unforgiveness that was still present in our relationship.
And I was also I was that sort of stereotypical starving artist at the time, I didn’t have any money at all. I was, I was struggling in [New York City]. And, you know, this is actually a story I haven’t really told much, but I’m excited to tell it but I didn’t have I didn’t have anything. And so, you know, there was just a lot going on. My husband was my fiance at the time. And we were sort of struggling together and wondering how we were going to eat.
And then once it was all said and done and she was healed. And you know, God sort of took care of that, we were able to look back on it with 2020 vision. And so then by the time she was diagnosed again, the third time, it became a matter of overcompensating. And I was sort of helicoptering, you know.
So what I would say to people is you really have to find a way, when you’re dealing with someone who is battling cancer, when you’re dealing with a cancer warrior. You know, there are so many things that need to be shifted in your own life in order to be an appropriate support system for them. And I’ve learned a lot about that. And it’s very tough, it’s even hard to talk about now without crying because it’s it was just a very tough thing. And she’s such an inspiration. And she showed me what war really looks like, and how you should fight. And, of course, we’re all floored by how she was healed three different times.
That’s a very rare story. And I understand that, and she’s still strong and stout and fabulous. And so and it’s certainly something that we’ve, we’ve talked about a lot and we are dealing with still and you know, we’re on our own journey to restoration.
For more about Sonequa Martin-Green, Star Trek, The Walking Dead and Space Jam 2, listen to the full episode here.