To boldly go …
Fans of the “Walking Dead” and “Once Upon a Time” television shows will soon spot a familiar face on a new “Star Trek” series – the face of a woman from right here in Russellville.
According to online entertainment sources, Sonequa Martin-Green has been cast as the lead of “Star Trek: Discovery,” which is set to air in 2017 on CBS All Access. The series is the first since “Star Trek: Enterprise” concluded in 2005 and continues – or to be more specific, chronologically pre-dates – the sci-fi story that began half a century ago.
Martin-Green, a 2003 Russellville High School graduate and class valedictorian, will star as Rainsford, lieutenant commander of the USS Discovery. Her role represents the first main protagonist of a Star Trek series who is not the captain of the ship in the storyline.
Martin-Green called her mother Vera, who still lives in Russellville, with the good news Dec. 14.
“I just screamed and cried thinking how good God is,” Martin said. “I’m excited. She is doing what she set out to do.”
At Russellville, Susan DeArman recalls teaching Martin-Green in both drama and English classes.
“Sonequa was a special student,” DeArman said. “She was one of those students who never settled for anything other than her absolute best.”
DeArman said it took some coaxing to get Martin-Green on stage, in the beginning.
“We were doing a play and needed one more female actress to fill all the roles. Several of the students and I thought of Sonequa and just started begging her to participate,” DeArman said. “We were able to convince her, and I think she was soon ‘bit by the acting bug.’ In the years that followed, she participated in additional plays and also was a member of my drama class. We all knew then that she had that something special.”
Current RHS drama teacher Patrice Smith was a year behind Martin-Green in school but has fond memories of acting and interacting with her.
“Even then she was awesome. She was so cool and confident. Everyone liked Sonequa,” Smith said. “She had a way of making you feel like family.”
Smith agreed with DeArman that everyone “knew she was something special.”
“I don’t think I ever saw her upset or frustrated,” Smith added. “She always had a beautiful smile on her face and a little pep in her step … I see her on TV or in magazines, and I think, ‘It wasn’t too long ago that we were cutting up during rehearsals, and she was teaching me different ways to fix my hair.’”
DeArman said in additional to talent, Martin-Green’s work ethic was always second to none.
“Many students have come through my class that I knew had the potential to do great things, and I’m happy I’ve been able to watch many of them achieve their potential and continue to strive for more. Sonequa’s talents amazed me when she was 15, and they continue to amaze me today,” DeArman said. “Her unwavering faith combined with hard work and determination should keep her on our TVs for many years to come.
“I am just so proud of her and can’t wait to see what she will do next!
For Smith, Martin-Green and her success is something she keeps in mind while trying to nurture the next generation of actors and actresses. Martin-Green’s story is one that inspires.
“I think about her a good bit now when I’m teaching my own drama students. I don’t think when I was a student on that stage that I ever thought one of us might make it as big; it just wasn’t even on my radar – but I have a feeling she always knew she had it in her,” Smith said. “Now when I look at my students, I know they can make it too. They can see someone who walked their halls, who practiced on their stage and performed just like they do. They see that same someone in major TV shows and on red carpets today. That’s huge for students. They can see that it can happen for them.”
After graduating from the University of Alabama in 2007 with a degree in theatre, Martin-Green relocated to New York City, where she and husband Kenric lived for five years before moving to California.
In addition to playing Sasha on “The Walking Dead” and Tamara in “Once Upon a Time,” Martin-Green has appeared on “Army Wives,” “The Good Wife” and “Gossip Girl,” among other shows.
Although Martin-Green doesn’t often make it home to Russellville, her mother said she hopes to visit Martin-Green and family soon, for an important birthday – her grandson will be 2 years old Jan. 10.
Martin, a three-time cancer survivor, said she is proud to think how God has blessed her to be able to bless her children, to help them spread their wings and see them grow and succeed.
“We’re just so proud of her. Words really can’t express what I’m feeling right now,” she said. “She’s a very intelligent girl, and I just feel like she’s doing what she set out to do.”
Smith echoed that pride. “I am so proud to be able to say I shared the stage with her once upon a time. Her entire community is so proud of her.”