Sonequa Martin-Green is an American actress known to Star Trek fans for her role as Michael Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery. Over the past three seasons, Trek fans have gone on an epic journey with her and the Discovery crew as they’ve traveled through the galaxy and time.
According to her hometown newspaper, the Franklin County Times, Martin-Green has been acting since she was in grade school. Her community stage debut happened when she was in the fourth grade and she continued to act through high school.
Martin-Green went on to study theater at the University of Alabama. She graduated from their theater program in 2007 and immediately jumped into a career in television and film. Within a couple of years, she was landing major roles on television and in indie films. Now a veteran of the small screen, Martin-Green is taking on more big-screen roles. She’s got a major role in the upcoming movie Space Jam: A New Legacy alongside LeBron James and Don Cheadle.
When she’s not working, Martin-Green spends as much time as possible with her family, including her husband, actor Kenric Green, her two children, her mother, and her sister. The actress has an incredibly full life and career.
Here’s everything you need to know:
1. She Didn’t Always Want to be an Actress
Martin-Green isn’t one of those actors who’s known that the craft was their destiny from an early age. Though she started acting when she was young and enjoyed it, she actually had a different career path all planned out.
In an interview with the Franklin County Times in 2013, Martin-Green revealed that when she was a teenager, she wanted to be a psychiatrist. However, a high school play changed everything for her.
“One day when I was at this play rehearsal I was just going to do for fun, it hit me,” Martin-Green told the publication. “This is what you’re supposed to be doing. This is what makes my soul happy is how I put it at the time.”
After that revelation, she didn’t think twice. Martin-Green devoted herself completely to pursuing her craft and a successful career. She asked the director of that high school production what she needed to do to be a real actress. He told her to pursue an education in theater at whatever school she could afford. So, she dedicated herself to getting into the theater program at the University of Alabama.
Martin-Green said that her interest in acting as a teen wasn’t all that different from her passion for psychiatry. She said that the two fields weren’t actually as different as they seem because the goal of each is the same — to get into the brain of another person. So, when she acts, she’s always trying to get into the mind of each of her characters.
2. She’s Been in Several Popular TV Shows
Though Martin-Green is a relative newcomer to the Star Trek world, she’s not a newcomer to major television hits. Her career took off in 2009 when she landed recurring roles on both Army Wives and The Good Wife. Her role as the lead character’s assistant, Courtney Wells, in The Good Wife became a fairly major one. She appeared in eight episodes between 2009 and 2011.
About a year later, Martin-Green appeared in several episodes of the crime drama NYC22. 2012 was also the year that she landed the biggest role of her career, Sasha Williams on The Walking Dead (TWD). The character started as a guest role in the third season but was soon written in as a major recurring character. Martin-Green continued in the role for six more seasons, appearing in a total of 70 episodes.
While she was working on The Walking Dead, Martin-Green took other roles as they came up. She landed a major recurring role as the vehemently anti-magic villain Tamara in the fantasy drama Once Upon a Time and a guest spot on The New Girl. She also did a couple of movies and some voice acting.
Then, in 2017, Martin-Green was cast as Commander Burnham. In an interview with TVLine, Discovery’s showrunner Alex Kurtzman talked about how difficult it was to find the right person for the role and why Martin-Green was the perfect fit.
“She has to have this remarkable duality inside of her… highly emotional, but in a way that is contained. She’s struggling between the two parts of herself… and that is very challenging for her. That was the single most important thing to define the character, and I think we just had a sense that [Sonequa] intuitively understood it.”
In the same interview, Kurtzman revealed that Green had a natural aptitude for the technobabble in Star Trek’s dialogue. For many actors, the technical, science-fiction language in nearly every scene is a major struggle. However, Kurtzman said Martin-Green had no problem with it a all.
“When [Sonequa] read, we all breathed a massive sigh of relief, because she brought an instant authenticity to it, Kurtzman said. “It was very clear that the language was not going to be difficult for her.”
Green-Martin has brought her considerable talent to the role of Burnham for the past three seasons. In that time, she’s brought the character through multiple major transformations, from commander to criminal to officer to second in command to captain.
3. She and her Husband Work Together all the Time
Martin-Green and her husband met because of their acting careers. In 2009, while they were both working on a production of Fetch Clay, Make Man at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey, they stole each other’s hearts. As Martin-Green told the Franklin County Times, she believes they were meant to meet.
“Here I am moving from Alabama to New York, so here we are moving from two different sides of the country, and we meet in New Jersey. It was just meant to be; it was destined by God.”
Green told the publication that the production they were working on was really small, with less than 10 cast members. He and Martin-Green were two of the only members of the cast under 50, so they hung out a lot when they weren’t on stage. Green joked that he was “sold” after he discovered that Martin-Green would laugh at all his jokes.
About a year later, the couple tied the knot in Central Park and they’ve been together ever since.
The couple didn’t get another chance to work together until about six years later. On premiere night for The Walking Dead’s sixth season in 2015, Martin-Green announced that her husband would be joining her on the show and expressed her excitement about working with him.
The Greens overlapped on TWD for two seasons, though they didn’t get to work with each other nearly at all. As Martin-Green told StarTrek.com in 2020, they only appeared in one scene together even though they spent two years working on the same show. In that one scene, they didn’t even speak to each other. However, they enjoyed working on the same show. Martin-Green left TWD in 2017 after she was cast in Discovery, though she made a cameo in one episode in season nine.
It wasn’t long before the Greens got the opportunity to work together again. In 2018, the couple teamed up for the crowdfunded web series Wed-Locked. The show focused on the joys and struggles of a Black couple living together for their first time. Martin-Green and Green starred as the couple’s best friends, whose relationship was often cause for comparison. All of the episodes of the series are available on Vimeo and the show’s YouTube channel.
In 2019, Martin-Green posted a behind-the-scenes picture from Discovery on Instagram. In the caption, she revealed that her husband would appear in an episode of Discovery as Burnham’s father. She wrote about how special it was that her husband’s character was a part of her character’s story and expressed how happy she was to have her husband join the Trek family.
However, Martin-Green and Green didn’t actually get to share screentime. Martin-Green told StarTrek.com that though they didn’t actually work together on Green’s scenes, she and her husband had a great time on set. Again, she spoke about how wonderful it was to have their characters so intrinsically linked and how funny it was that her husband was her fictional dad.
In a different interview with StarTrek.com, Martin-Green gushed about her husband’s talent and how happy she was that Discovery gave him a chance to show off.
“he’s just a brilliant actor, and caught the eye of the producers and casting directors. There came the perfect role for him, and he won it and he got it, and here we are. It’s amazing. I’m very excited for everyone to see what he can do, and to see his soul and his spirit because he’s such a powerful person, and such a beautiful person, and is that as well as an artist.”
Martin-Green and her husband haven’t worked together since Green’s appearance on Discovery. However, they’ve been spending a lot of time together and with their family since the pandemic started.
4. She’s Deeply Devoted to Family
The Greens have two children together, a boy named Kenric after his dad, and a girl named Saraiyah. Kenric was born in 2015 and Saraiyah completed their small family in 2020. Though Martin-Green loves her career, she’s said that her family comes before work.
In an interview with Good Housekeeping shortly after her son was born, Green-Martin said that becoming a mother was a “profound” experience that she had trouble describing. She admitted that she often cried when people mentioned her then newborn son because she was so overwhelmed with joy. She also said that becoming a mom changed her relationship with her husband and her mother in incredible ways. They all became closer because they shared so much love for her son.
When her daughter was born in 2020, Martin-Green wrote on Instagram that she and her husband “never felt that anything was missing, but now that she’s here, we feel a perfect sense of completeness.” Since that post, she’s written several more about how her daughter’s birth made their little family whole. She often shares pictures of Kenric and Saraiyah on Instagram along with captions about how much joy her kids bring and how they are the center of her whole world.
Martin-Green’s Instagram account is also filled with pictures of her and her husband. Martin-Green and Green love taking adventures together, which is evidenced on their social media accounts. Pictures going back years show them enjoying tropical vacations, long hikes, comic conventions, and even Disneyland together. Now their adventures are closer to home because of the pandemic, but their social media accounts seem to indicate that they still carve out alone time.
Green is also very close with her mother and her sister, both of whom are cancer survivors. Martin-Green often posts about both her mother and her sister on social media sharing how each of them has helped shape her life.
Their journies with cancer led Martin-Green to become an advocate for cancer research. In an interview with Essence in 2018, she shared some details about the battles her mother and sister had fought and won.
“My mom had breast, colon and a slow-growing stomach cancer. She’s survived all three. She’s a warrior, a hero. And my half-sister is a breast cancer survivor. Cancer is everywhere in my immediate family.”
She went on to say that her sister and mom have both been huge sources of inspiration and have helped her strengthen her faith.
Martin-Green emphasized the importance of using the platform she has to raise awareness and advance cancer research. One of the big focuses of her advocacy is getting clinical trials to include more Black folks. Often, clinical trials include very few Black folks, so there’s not a lot of information about how treatments impact this population. Martin-Green has worked to raise awareness around this issue for several years.
5. She and her Husband are Gym-Rats
Green-Martin is a bit of a fitness junkie. In an interview with CBS Watch Magazine, she said that she lives her life by “the three F’s: faith, family, and fitness.” She often combines the family and fitness parts by hitting the gym with her husband. Though they haven’t been getting to the actual gym a lot lately, Green and Martin-Green’s Instagram accounts feature multiple pictures of the two of them getting their sweat on together.
When the two were shooting The Walking Dead, they often hit the gym together to keep in shape for the roles. As Martin-Green shared in her Good Housekeeping interview, the scenes for TWD required a lot of physical exertion. The actors would be walking, running, or fighting most of the time they were on set, which she said was particularly tough when she was pregnant with her son. To prepare for all this hard work, Martin-Green and Green kept in shape with couples gym sessions.
In an interview with Shape Magazine in 2017, Martin-Green revealed that her father’s martial arts practice inspired her love for fitness. She shared that she and her sister would toss hands with her father even when they were very young. Martin-Green didn’t take up martial arts, but she was an avid athlete. During her time in the University of Alabama’s theater program, she got a certification in stage fighting, which was definitely an asset when she landed her roles on TWD and Discovery.
Martin-Green also told Shape that she loves working out at home. She tries to keep her routine simple and often does online workouts. There are a few pics on Green’s Instagram of him working out at home as well, so it’s a fair assumption that they get their sweat on at home as well as the gym.