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Sonequa Martin-Green is absolutely radiant in her first frame in the upcoming live-action/animated sports comedy Space Jam: A New Legacy. Seeing a Black woman with natural hair — particularly her own — in a feature film still shocks my system in a welcoming “Thank God” sort of way, which is not unlike the reaction Martin-Green had to being allowed to rock her short natural cut in the movie.

“When I joined and we were talking about the look, I was really moved by the fact that they said let’s just go with your hair as is,” the actress tells ESSENCE. “I was thinking of having a wig that was natural, sort of like a fluffy situation, but we ended up going with my cut as is and I thought that that was a courageous move because it’s a short cut and that makes a statement. But we went with it and I’ll always be grateful for that.”

Like most Black women, the 36-year-old has her own hair journey which includes wearing a number of different styles over the years as she came to embrace her own texture and understand the weight of that choice working in Hollywood.

“It’s such a huge socio-political thing and you make a huge socio-political statement when you wear your hair natural in the public eye. I love all of that. I love being able to do that,” she shares.

Martin-Green plays a fictionalized version of Lebron James’ wife, Kamiyah James, in the film, and as a mother of two in real life she brought a particular authenticity to the screen. “They’ve prepared me for everything,” she says of her 6-year-old son and one-year-old daughter. “They make me a more elevated, expanded, well-rounded, intuitive person. Someone who is kinder and more competent. They’ve revved me up.”

Check out our full interview with Sonequa Martin-Green in the video above. Space Jam: A New Legacy hits theaters Friday, July 16.


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