Family, friends and fans honor member of TV’s biggest hit
Sonequa Martin-Green started acting in fourth grade thanks to a school play.
Martin-Green continued to be in plays here and there in school, but it was a production put on during her time at Russellville High School that made her realize just what she was meant to do in life.
“It came out of nowhere,” she said. “I was going to be a psychiatrist, which acting isn’t that different from to be honest.
“It’s occupying someone else’s brain for a while and stepping into it. That’s what I was going to do, but one day when I was at this play rehearsal I was just going to do for fun, it hit me.
“This is what you’re supposed to be doing. This is what makes my soul happy is how I put it at the time.
“Then I went full-speed ahead. I asked the director (who came from out of town) how do I do this as a career.
“He said you go to college and get some training. I asked where, he said you can go anywhere. For financial reasons I decided to go in state, so I went to the University of Alabama because they have a really good theater department.
“I came home that night and said I’m going to be an actor. I’ve decided. My family was like, ‘oh, OK. Really?’”
The young budding actress graduated from the UA Department of Theatre and Dance, where she honed her skills in different university productions.
Martin-Green got some bit parts on television and a role in low-budget yet well-received movie Toe to Toe, a film about lacrosse players from different backgrounds.
She was cast as Kanessa Jones, a three-episode character on the TV series “Army Wives,” which aired on Lifetime in 2009.
Then the young actress was cast as Courtney Wells in the CBS crime drama “The Good Wife.” She appeared in this role in eight episodes from 2009-2011.
Martin-Green then played Michelle Terry for five episodes in NYC 22, a cop-drama on CBS.
Her “big break” likely came in 2013, as she was cast as Tamara in ABC’s “Once Upon a Time.” She was also cast in her biggest television role to date thanks to a popular series on AMC.
If you have yet to figure out where you recognize her from (if you do not know her personally), you will likely recognize her as the character Sasha in the ‘The Walking Dead.” Her character was introduced during season three of the smash hit, and she was named as a recurring character for the upcoming fourth season, set to hit AMC starting Oct. 13 of this year.
So far Martin-Green has played Sasha in 13 episodes, making it much longer in the series than some other characters, as the nature of the series means characters frequently perish, as fans know all too well.
Sasha and her brother Tyreese (played by Chad L. Coleman) appear to have a big part to play in season four, thanks to footage from early trailers.
Due to her success on stage, in film and on the silver screen, Martin-Green was honored at an event at Russellville High School Auditorium Saturday evening.
Several former teachers, practically every member of her family and her husband Kendrick Green took the stage that night to give accounts of the young actress.
The most common themes of these speeches were how good a student Martin-Green was during her years at Russellville, and just how important God and family were in her life.
When Martin-Green took the stage as one of the final speakers on the night, she had several things to say in response to all of the kindness shown to her by her family, friends and the city of Russellville.
“I’m going to cry,” she said. “That’s going to happen, just so you know. This is overwhelming. It’s almost too much for me to take in all this.
“I have a lot of people to thank, and I will always remember this day, this time, this moment when everyone came out to be here for me. I want to let you all know I don’t take this lightly, and it’s an honor.
“First and foremost this is a celebration of God, and what He does in all of our lives. I would be nothing; I would literally cease to exist without Him. Every bit of my success, and every piece of my talent came from Him.”
Martin-Green gave an account of how she met her husband, and it all came from a chance encounter separated by thousands of miles.
“Kendrick is from southern California,” she said. “He moved to New York to pursue acting.
“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.”
Her husband gave a similar account; accept his story revolved around his first time meeting his future wife.
“We met while acting in a play together in Princeton, New Jersey,” he said. “There were something like eight cast members, and at least five of them were 55 or older, so I liked my chances of stealing her time and getting her to focus on me in the moment.
“When I got to know her I realized that she was 1. pretty and 2. she laughed at my jokes, so I was pretty sold from there.”
Outside of being a woman he would eventually marry, Martin-Green guided her future husband to yet another milestone in his life.
“She introduced me to a man named Jesus Christ, and I’m sure everybody in this room knows how good He is,” he said. “If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have known Him.
“I get to be an ear for her, and I get to be someone who gives her advice, though I don’t know how I got qualified for that role.
“She’s so amazing. We’re on a wild ride, and we’re enjoying every second of it.”
When Martin-Green was nearing the end of her speech, she took the opportunity to give a final word to the audience and everyone who put together the event in her honor.
“Thank you to everyone who had anything to do with this event,” she said. “I’m floored by you guys, and I’m honored to be from this city.
“There is a lot of love in this city, and there are a lot of tight bonds I have here that will never go away. I brag about it on set sometimes saying ‘yep, I’m from Russellville, Alabama, the Dirty South.’ I love it. People are always like, ‘whoa, really?’ And I’m like yep, yep, way down there.’
“All of this is just fantastic, and I’m very happy to be here with all of you in this room right now. It’s been amazing to see what God has done in my life. It was Him directing me.
“Just know if you see me doing something crazy on some TV show or movie, just know that I only did it because God told me to. I only take roles that He tells me to. If He tells me no, I turn it down. If He tells me to do it, I do it.”
One of the final speakers of the night was Russellville Mayor David Grissom, who had a special announcement for Martin-Green.
On behalf of the mayor and the Russellville City Council, we would like to say welcome home Sonequa,” he said. “It’s always an honor to come together and celebrate the accomplishments of a Russellville native.
“I would like to thank you for the way you represent Russellville in all your travels everywhere you go. At this time I would like to read a resolution passed at the last meeting of the Russellville City Council.
“It says, ‘Whereas Russellville native Sonequa Martin-Green is enjoying great success as an actress on the hit television program The Walking Dead, and whereas Sonequa Martin-Green has also appeared on the television programs Army Wives, The Good Wife and Once Upon a Time, and whereas Sonequa Martin-Green is a graduate of Russellville High School, where she participated in many school performances and activities… and whereas her home town of Russellville, Alabama, will be honoring Sonequa Martin-Green for her many accomplishments and successes on July 27, 2013.
“Now therefore be it resolved by the city council that Russellville, Alabama, proclaim July 27, 2013, ‘Sonequa Martin-Green Day’ in Russellville, Alabama.”
Saturday ended up truly being Sonequa Martin-Green’s day, and now those who follow her work will get to wait and see what God and time have in store for her.
October 13, which marks the start of season four of “The Walking Dead,” will now be a day for fans of her character to mark on their calendars, as only time will tell who will survive AMC’s zombie apocalypse.