Actress Sonequa Martin-Green on Sharing a Universe with LeBron James in ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’

Image: Amy Sussman/FilmMagic

“I loved the original,” says Sonequa Martin-Green, who is best known for playing Michael Burnham on Star Trek: Discovery and Sasha Williams on The Walking Dead, of Space Jam: A New Legacy starring NBA great LeBron James. The actress stars as Kamiyah James, wife to LeBron, in the reboot of the 1996 classic film held down by the G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan. The mix of live action, animation and NBA magic has been a perennial fan favorite. And this iteration, directed by The Best Man and Girls Trip director Malcolm Lee, was created in the same vein. 

The admitted NBA fan says she didn’t meet LeBron until they started filming, which is typical for this business. “It’s one of those things as an actor that you just kind of have to get used to and kind of get desensitized to,” she says. “But we had lots of jokes about it in the beginning, like, ‘Okay, and now we’re all the family. Let’s go!’ But, everybody was so great, and we were able to bond as a family really quickly—which was nice.”

Martin-Green, who also appears in the film The Outside Story with Atlanta star Brian Tyree Henry, which is streaming now on Hulu, noticed similarities between the Space Jam and Star Trek: Discovery universes. “There are parallels of being in a sort of alien world and having to come together with a group of people that are very different from you but having to come together for a common goal to fight for the future together.” 

As to whether LeBron is a fan of Star Trek: Discovery, Martin-Green shares that she doesn’t know. What she does know is that she is excited about the show’s return. “We’re just about done with season four. And so that’ll be premiering soon enough,” she says. “I’m really excited because I’m Captain now as Michael Burnham and that means a lot. So, as always, I’m honored to tell that story, just as I’m honored to tell this story.”

Regardless of whether she is leading a film or not, Martin-Green is always a regal on-screen presence. Making an impact is intentional on her part. “I approach storytelling and the craft of acting as a calling, and I approach it as a service,” she shares. “I always want to serve. I have to agree with the truth of the story. I have to believe that they will possibly create positive change. And then I just devote myself to that story in hopes that the people who take it in will be positively affected by it. And, of course, everybody is going to bring something else to a story; everyone brings their own perspective and perception, and they bring their whole lives with them. So you can’t predict it, and you can’t plan it, but I do just always hope that it’ll be positive.”

Positivity and unity is what Martin-Green sees in both Space Jam and Space Jam: A New Legacy. “I think we all love just being able to see this man giving his all and fighting with everything that he had to save that world. I think that there’s something, too, about being able to come together with a group of people that are very different, from different walks of life,” she says. “This ragtag group had to come together and operate as one. I think that’s really inspiring for audiences to see.”

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As a mother of two, Martin-Green perhaps appreciates the family dynamic most. “You need to see the family, the James’ family coming together in a new way and accepting each other and sacrificing for each other. I think that’s got to be the finest peak of the film.”

Space Jam: A New Legacy is in theaters and streaming on HBO Max. 

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