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When it comes to building a fantasy world, sometimes it’s the little details that matter most.
Sonequa Martin-Green, who stars in Star Trek: Discovery, and which appears in the new Space Jam: a new legacy as LeBron James’ wife Kamiyah knows all too well.
Since Star Trek: Discovery premiered in 2017, Martin-Green played his main character, Michael Burnham, a human raised on the planet Vulcan. The story follows Burnham on his journey from Starfleet officer to Captain, with many obstacles along the way.
Martin-Green is the first black woman to lead a live-action Star Trek series. She says of the role: “I was so grateful to be the first black woman to lead the franchise and also to know that it was a trip to the captain’s seat, knowing that it was a big deal to be able to see. someone slip and trip, and fall forward and actually gain their position there. “
Who braids hair in space?
Michael Burnham may have grown up on Vulcan, but her humanity sets her apart from the Vulcans. The character expresses himself through his emotions, his vulnerability, but also his hair. Burnham wears a variety of styles: first with short straight hair, then a short natural hair style, and finally, long braids.
And while many have praised the show’s unexpected portrayal of black hairstyles, a pressing question remains: who does Burnham’s hair in space?
Martin-Green shares the backstory she envisioned for her character during her recent conversion with Ayesha Rascoe.
“Thank you for asking this question, I’ve never been asked it before, but it’s definitely something I need to think about,” she said. “How is that? There was a point where I questioned the authenticity of this.”
She details that at the start of the third season of Star Trek: Discovery, Burnham finds himself stranded and isolated from his crew. When she is alone, she realizes that she can express herself in the way that suits her best.
“I don’t have to live by institutional standards, and I’m starting to feel really comfortable with it, and I fall in love with it.”
Burnham then finds himself visiting many planets to deliver and receive goods. Martin-Green imagined how her character connected to a deeper part of herself on one of these trips.
“I came to a house, and they let me in, on one of the planets that I was visiting, and it was a very tribal community, and they braided my hair,” she said. “I ended up loving it, and I kept it up. It worked with this new me, this freer, more daring me, that’s really closer to who I really am as Michael.”
To maintain the hairstyle, Martin-Green explains that Burnham simply enters the requirements into programmable matter, a substance in the Star Trek universe that can imitate different shapes and movements that can perform tasks, such as in this case, braiding.
Natural hair in Hollywood: “It’s better … but it could go further”
Martin-Green was trying to create something in a fictional world that can be difficult to replicate in the real world. For many black actresses, the subject of natural hair has long been a point of career stress.
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“It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy for any of us,” Martin-Green says of having natural hair in Hollywood. “His [gotten] better is so much better, and we have to celebrate that, but it could go further, and it has to go further. “
Martin-Green says that although she’s been wearing natural hairstyles since college, her early days as an actress consisted of straightening her hair down for headshots, auditions, and anything else related to her professional life.
“I really believed that I could wear my hair naturally in my normal life, but if I wanted to do something industry-related, I was going to have to straighten it out,” she says. “There was absolutely no way I would be received or accepted if it was natural. And it’s so debilitating to believe that the way your hair naturally comes out of your scalp is ugly, unacceptable, unprofessional.”
Martin-Green says she finally realized she didn’t want to contribute to a narrative that might present her hair as “bad” or “unprofessional,” and she decided to keep her hair natural for every part of her life. , including photo ops and walking on red carpets.
She’s happy with the choices she’s made for herself, but Martin-Green also says she has no problem with the multitude of other options, like relaxers, wigs, or weaves.
“As long as you have the right understanding, as long as you know that it is an option on the plate, as long as you know that your worth is not linked to it, that your beauty is not linked to it, your competence “, she says. “As long as you know it, have fun.”
This episode was produced by Andrea Gutierrez and was edited by Jordana Hochman. Technical support came from Patrick Murray. Manuela López Restrepo adapted this interview for the web. You can follow us on Twitter @NPRItsBeenAMin and email us at [email protected]