Interview: Sonequa Martin-Green On The “Big Thing” In ‘Discovery’ Season 5 And Her Potential Star Trek Future


The fifth and final season of Star Trek: Discovery arrives on April 4. Paramount+ held a world premiere event at SXSW in Austin on Monday, where TrekMovie had a chance to speak briefly to series star Sonequa Martin-Green on the red carpet about the new season and where she would like to see Michael Burnham appear next.

You have explored many different sides of Michael Burnham to really evolve the character over previous seasons. So, as both an actress and a producer, was there anything you asked to explore in season 5?

I didn’t have to ask to explore anything, because what we do, where we go, and what we do is beyond what I thought could ever happen on this show. I wish I could say more, but it would spoil it. But yes, I mean, I was able to be a lot more involved in the post process this time around as well, especially now being an executive producer for season 5. So I feel like we did everything I could have dreamed of.

Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery season 5 (Paramount+)

You have previously talked about a “big thing” in season 5…


So can you give us a clue? When should we be looking for it? Is it a person, place, or thing?

Um, let me see, what can I tell you? Is it a person, place, or thing? I’ll tell you, it’s all three. It’s all three. And it’s all across the whole season.

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You have also recently said you are up for doing a Trek crossover

Oh yeah!

Of the current shows do you have a preference – Strange New Worlds, Lower Decks, Prodigy?

Oh, my goodness. And there’s even the Section 31 movie. We are limited in our timeline, right? All of those you just mentioned, we wouldn’t really be able to do scientifically speaking because we’re in the 3190s now. But yes, I think that we would be down. I would, and I think I can speak for us all, we would be down for any of them. We are proud of all of our children from the mothership of this new latinum age of Trek.

Or maybe something new, like the Academy show…

Yes, exactly. That could be wonderful. A movie even, like that would be so much fun.

Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery season 5 (Paramount+)

More to come from SXSW

TrekMovie has more interviews and coverage from the SXSW 2024 premiere and panel discussion so check back later for more exclusives.

The fifth and final season of Discovery debuts with two episodes on Thursday, April 4 exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., the UK, Switzerland, South Korea, Latin America, Germany, France, Italy, Australia, and Austria. Discovery will also premiere on April 4 on Paramount+ in Canada and is also expected to be broadcast on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel in Canada. The rest of the 10-episode final season will be available to stream weekly on Thursdays. Season 5 debuts on SkyShowtime in select European countries on April 5.

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“ We are proud of all of our children from the mothership of this new latinum age of Trek.”

This has got to be one of the nerdiest sentences I’ve read this month. Love it.


So much love. So much pride. So many tears of joy and happiness.

Agreed. I wish we got more positivity like this all the time. When our world seems to be falling apart, it’s great to see this from those involved in Star Trek.

I agree, but you know Emily was being sarcastic don’t you?

That’s the beauty of it — she thought she was being sarcastic but she actually got it 100% right!

Sometimes you don’t post what you want, but you post what is needed.

I actually think that Sonequa Martin-Green does a good job of portraying a human who (1) is culturally Vulcan, and (2) is re-introduced into human culture. It makes sense that someone in that situation whisper when more emoting is called for, or over-compensate by emoting when it’s inappropriate.

The problem is more that every other damn character does the same thing.

LOL! I laughed very hard.

I love her. Can’t wait for the season to start.


Sonequa Martin-Green has been a fantastic addition to the franchise and her character quickly became one of my favorite in Trek and also one of my favorite captains.

Yeah, and here are my personal captain rankings — and I will mention that Picard has dropped a couple slots due to his non-TNG-like actions in Picard season 3:

1. Kirk
2. Sisko
3. Pike
4. Burnham
5. Picard
6. Archer
7. Janeway
8. Dal Rei
9. Freeman

I will also note that my Top 5 are all pretty close (all a great captains), but there is then a large drop-off between 5 and 6 — so my bottom four (6-9) I have significant issues with.

Just curious — are your rankings for specific, e.g., original characterizations (Shatner), or across all (like all Kirks, all Pikes, etc.)?

I was thinking of original Kirk here and the current Pike.

But I’m not sure that would alter the rankings all that much if I considered all of them, although perhaps I would drop Kirk a slot or two if I included Kelvin Kirk

Martin-Green is a great actress. I could see that beginning with her tough character in The Walking Dead. She emotes well.

Is she one of my favorite characters in the franchise? Well, no. I’ve been trying to figure out what I like and don’t like about Discovery and, from reading the reviews of season 5, I think I can articulate it now. The cast of characters is a bit too emo, emotional, whatever. That’s one thing. The other, I think, is just that I’m not enamored with all the characters, but, hey, I always hated Neelix and found Kes cloying on Voyager as well and never ever cared about Chakotay and Kim.

I like Burnham well enough, but I don’t think she is a great captain. She lets her personal feelings and insubordination always get in the way. Those are flaws, and, I guess the flip side is that Discovery has definitely made use of those flaws. Should she have been awarded a command due to her being right about some of her actions or them having beneficial results? I think that’s debatable. The questions the Federation President had were pertinent.

As for the other major criticism, that is, the “wokeness” of Discovery, what does being woke even mean? Is it diversity in general or only diversity in LGBTQ? I’ve never been totally clear on that. I think it was great to have a black woman captain, or a chinese woman with the wonderful Michelle Yeoh’s Captain Georgiu (now, she was a great captain). I think it’s very nice that Trek added a gay couple too, but for my money, I think Stamets and Culber are a bit bland compared to the hilarious Jett Reno, who I love. She should be a regular.

I really don’t like Adira at all. The character just doesn’t work for me.

There’s a lot though, that I really love about Discovery. I love the production and the action, which, I guess, was inspired by the Abrams films. The show looks great! I love the writing, I really do. Even Season 4. I know some people complained about it, and, again, I don’t like my ST too emo, but I thought the anomaly stuff and those fascinating gas beings, were great! I have a PhD in AE and essentially did a dissertation on aspects of molecular structure, more of an applied physics topic, so I love the science in sci-fi, so I had no problem with the storyline they were tackling in season 4. Was it my favorite? No, seasons 1 and 2 of DISCO were the best imo, and I guess I didn’t care much for the resolution of the Burn being a Kelpian kid. That was way to deux ex machina and unsatisfying. In that sense, I thought the season 4 resolution was better.

Also, in general, I like most of the characters. I loved Geourgiu (and Tig Notaro’s Jett Reno), and now she’s gone. She was, imo, the one great ST character in the bunch, the Empress was the best. But most of them, except for Adira, I like.

But this show, despite it’s production and action, imo, just didn’t make the heights of TOS, TNG, and DS9. If you care about sfx and production and the accompany action set pieces, if that’s all that’s important to you or what you emphasize, then DISCO clearly outshines those earlier series. I guess I put more emphasis on the spirit of the narrative and the characters, and those first 3 ST series, I think just ultimately aced it in that department.

Is DISCO better than Voyager? Well, Voyager had more characters I disliked (Neelix, Kes, Kim), but had some characters I really liked and loved (Janeway, Seven, the Doctor, Paris, Torres). I think I’m going to have to go with Voyager.

I never saw more than 3 or 4 episodes of Enterprise and I’ve only seen the first 3 episodes of Picard, so I can’t judge them yet.

“Wo-ke” is a term used by the weak-minded as a defense mechanism to avoid having to show diverse groups the common courtesy they deserve in our modern society.

Absolutely, buddy.

So, it’s every element of diversity the far right doesn’t like, right? Generally, it encompasses race and LGBTQ+, right? What about religion?

I’m a Dem, but I was never clear what the woke complaint encompassed. I got the sense that it was black and LGBTQ Americans.

I think it can be all the above. That’s why I stated my personal definition of it at a high level — my definition is wholly mine, but I think it fits.

It includes religion and non black people of color. And also neurodiversity.

Which religions? And what is neurodiversity?

We’re Jewish and have seen the word “woke” applied to the existence of Jewish characters or the idea of them existing. Islam is another one.

Neurodiversity means people that are autistic/have ADHD/any kind of mental disorders (and personality disorders) as opposed to not having them. We’re autistic and have dissociative identity disorder. Characters that would have either of them would have their existence declared woke, even if it’s just the stereotype and stigma that we’re inherently dangerous.

So, it sounds like woke is just everything that isn’t white, Christian (Catholics and Mormons too or not?) and non-disabled.

Speaking of religion, I wish ST would have some human religious characters. Yes, I know that the Klingons and the Bajorans are proxies for that and that probably the vast majority of fans take Roddenberry and Braga’s view that all the humans of ST’s time are atheists and/or agnostics, but I’d like to see folks sitting down and celebrating their commonalities and differences in civil and kind ways just like all the other differences in ST. I read that the creator J. Michael Straczynski had religious human characters in Babylon 5.

Our first reply got hit with waiting for approval.

In short: yes. We used to collect LEGO sets until it got hit with accusations of being woke because a minifig had a prosthetic leg. (Didn’t stop by our own choice, just the person helping us buy the sets.) And as for Catholics and Mormons, entirely depends on the group making the accusations.

And Vulcans. Assuming you left them out because you didn’t know. But they’re very Jewish coded (Google Judaism and Vulcan culture, there are a lot of articles and blogs written about it.) so for us Spock eating pork in Charades was one of the most disappointing moments in all of current Trek (because removing the Vulcan DNA wouldn’t remove his faith/beliefs, etc., it’s not inherited! It’s learned.)

So the assumption that Trek makes where the defaults are either agnostic/atheist or Christianity is just as frustrating to us as it is to you.

Race example:

Casting Khan with a white English guy

”Stop complaining and being wo-ke!”

Superman cast with a black actor

“Superman isn’t black! Stop with your wo-ke agenda!!!”

Wo-ke means nothing accept to be a buzzword to try and silence people.

That is pretty silly; Larry Summers and Yasha Mount had a much more substantive, and less conclusory, discussion of this point in the latter’s blog, Persuasion, recently.

As far as I’m concerned “wo-ke” means I got out of bed already.

Thanks for this discussion. It’s just clarified what I thought of the woke accusation. Can I summarize woke as anything that isn’t WASP? That goes along with the Ivery insipid) reverse discrimination that Trump is claiming from “racist” black women DAs.

The prosthetic lego figure thing is ridiculous. It’s beyond silly anyone has a problem with that. A lot of these culture wars are just silly and divisive.

And yes, Gritizens, I know about how a lot of Vulcans was directly from Nimoy’s Jewish faith. I love that.

I admit, I’m never going to be comfortable seeing 2 guys (or gals) kissing each other and the like, but I believe these folks are good people and deserve all the rights I have, including the right to pursue happiness on their own terms without fear or persecution. I’ve told my kids that too. I don’t get the trans folks at all either, but I’m willing to try to keep an open mind that this is a real thing and maybe some people have to undergo drastic measures for their mental health. I can’t imagine parents of kids with gender-disphoria and what they have to deal with. I don’t get it, but I know, as a parent, you do whatever you can to love and help your kids. They become your life. So I’m never going to judge what these parents have to do.

So, any of you guys want an actual definition as used by the right, or just this hilariously out-of-touch ad hominem echo chamber? :-)

Sure, what’s the definition?

With the caveat, to undercut my own assertion, that there are so many fringes these days that it’s impossible to speak for everybody…

‘Woke’ is generally referring to what I would umbrella call ‘a new view in the basic fundaments of society’, contrasted with the traditional universal understandings of marriage, family, and gender roles and their functions as the cornerstone of society. The criticisms typically fall along three lines, in this case.

Firstly, the normalization and glorification of LGBT ideals; the promotion of transgenderism and homosexual relationships and gender fluidity. (And I know, to most readers here, that is just representation of existing people groups; but from a differing belief-system POV, it is instead the attempt to take illegitimate and dangerous behaviors and rebrand them as people groups. It comes from a very different base view of the nature of human sexuality and morality). I get that is a loathsome viewpoint to most here, I’m just explaining it.

Secondly, the pushing of a ‘radical feminist agenda’, for lack of a better term, in which men are actively demoted to weak or useless roles; in other words, not only are women in charge (that’s fine), but men are actively useless or villainous only (or, in many film franchises lately, being actively replaced, where legacy franchises with a male lead bring the old actor off as a grumpy sad-sack loser and retire or kill him so he can be replaced by a new female lead; or just straight-up murder a child for the purpose (I’m looking at you, Terminator! ;-) )).

Which is then usually coupled with thirdly, a racial diversity view in which diversity means ‘everyone BUT straight white men’. The general idea being the appearance or belief that a property is not just pushing for a diverse cast, but specifically excluding the demographic that used to be the mainstream as some sort of punitive retribution. ‘Not only are the women in charge (fine), but men are unfit to lead and straight, white men don’t get represented at all.’ (Personally, I think Pike and Kovich give lie to this view, but- as a non-viewer, and player of Star Trek Timelines, I did notice that pretty much every leader Discovery character, from Burnham to the president of Trill to the president of Earth to the President of Ni’var to the leader of the Terran Empire to the leader of the Emerald Chain, is universally female? Maybe that’s where they got the idea?)

Anyhow, when the mainstream folks are referring to woke, that’s usually what the terminology means- heavily pushing normalization of LGBT ideals and the view of human nature that entrails, and a push for gender and cultural ‘diversity’ that, in their view, isn’t actually diverse, it’s just code for ‘leaves your demographic out because you had your time in the sun, nyah-nyah.’ :-) Again, I’m just the messenger, I’m not endorsing these views, just explaining them.

As someone who grew up in a household that listened to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, and still has a lot of friends in that world, I’ve never heard the idea of woke applied to neurodivergence, or physical disabilities (I have a son with both, so we tend to be hypersensitive to those issues), or to other religions (except occasionally a perceived post-9/11 tendency to overcompensate for the initial hatred in 2001 by putting Islam on a pedestal in media since then, but that one hasn’t really been much of a topic of discussion for the last decade); if anything, ‘woke’ism is usually associated with the hyper-Dawkins brand of atheism that isn’t content to live-and-let-live but actively condemns religion, so seeing any representation in even a neutral, non-condescending light is seen as welcome by those that would be using the term ‘woke.’

…Though of course, I can’t speak for Trump-ism, in which many of these characteristics may overlap; conservatives that have joined the Trump movement and brought their ‘woke’ with them may well be using it in all of these latter ways. And I’m never going to tell someone who’s experienced bias that they didn’t, so I am sure that there are people out there that are using it for portrayals of judiasm, or physical disability; as I said, there seems to be more ‘fringes’ than a Kelvan’s tentacles these days. But, as someone that still has one foot in the traditional, non-Trump-worshipping conservative mainline these days thanks to friends and relatives, when the majority talk ‘woke,’ they’re talking about these three things.

Well, I posted it… we’ll see if it makes it through moderation. :-)

Sorry for the grumpy tone of my previous post, it was a rough day at work and sleep that day.

A person, place and thing?

Hmm… Ok, well the “place” is the 24th century ship I am assuming. The “person” I’m guessing was either frozen in status, pulled a Scotty transporter status trick, or could live that long? “Thing”, still no clue but I have my ideas. Red Matter, Iconian technology, something about that founding race from TNG’s “The Chase”…

Love or hate the show, you cannot argue that Sonequa Martin-Green has not been an absolutely EXEMPLARY ambassador for Star Trek, and I will miss her as the face of this newest generation very much.

I only saw the first 3 seasons before Paramount yanked Discovery out of my country (am I in an undiscoveried country?). But I liked the actress very much – perhaps a bit more than I liked the character who was forced by the scriptwriters to cry in seemingly every episode. She’s quite charismatic and should have been written a little more realistically and a little less weepily.

I think I feel the same way. A bit less emo would’ve served the character well. Sonequa Martin-Greene is fantastic, though. She’s a wonderful actress and they got the right person as lead.

She has. She’s been the spokesperson more than Kurtzman. And Shatner/Stewart are touch acts to follow in being leaders of a new generation.

Yeah please just don’t suck this season. That’s all I ask. But this is Discovery so that’s a very big ask lol.

She seems like a lovely person though.

Yes was going to say, SMG does seem like a genuinely nice person, and I’m sure she sets a wonderful example for younger female fans of the shows she’s been in.


I’ve enjoyed all the DISCO seasons, with seasons 1 and 2 being my favorites. I love the production and the writing and I think it was really refreshing to have more flawed characters like TOS. Berman-Trek was getting stale. ENT looked to me lie TNG v3. I also generally like the DISCO characters, except for Adira, too. I’m good with the show. I enjoyed it. It’s at least on par with Voyager imo.

Season 2 is still my favorite personally. It was still deeply flawed but if I ever wanted to rewatch a season it would probably be that one.

There were plenty of flawed characters in the Berman era though. I guess you mean TNG which I would agree. But DS9, Voyager and Enterprise has plenty.

And while I love TOS I never seen any of the main characters as flawed either. They were all straight laced characters. What was Sulu or Chekhov s flaws exactly? The only thing I can think of with Scotty is that he liked his drinking but that’s not really a flaw either. Kirk had inner struggles and defied orders at times but literally every episode ended basically agreeing he did the right thing. I don’t see Kirk poisoning a planet or stealing another ship’s warp core to complete a mission.

But I hear this all the time and I just don’t get it? No one came off hateful, questioned orders, had any addictions, had issues with other crewmen, did questionable things on the ship, nothing. Maybe they aren’t perfect but they are not really flawed either.

Regarding Kirk, I think if you watch the first year you’ll see a number of instances of the character expressing considerable self-doubt, per Roddenberry’s description of him in the official Writer’s Guide. Unfortunately, that was more or less dropped in later seasons.

I have been a staunch opponent of Discovery, and of the character of Michael Burnham, since the show started. Just really, really disliking everything that I read about it.

But darn it if Sonequa’s infectious enthusiasm and just general goodwill toward the franchise isn’t slowly winning me over. :-) It’s hard to keep rejecting a show whose lead is so winsome and enthusiastic!

It’s definitely Q!

I don’t think it is but I would totally be for it if it was.

That would make sense given the timeline and the last time according to DISCO Q wasn’t seen since the 24th/25th centuries. But I’m not sure how a Romulan Warbird would fit into that tho.

But if it is Q that would def be a story I need to see!

So…Ego the Living Planet signed with Paramount+?