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Space Jam: A New Legacy provides viewers with a number of elements. It gives sports fans their fix when it comes to basketball, and it allows Looney Tunes fans the opportunity to revisit some of their favorite characters. But as a family film, it also shows viewers a strong family through LeBron James and his fictional wife and kids. This was something that greatly appealed to his co-star, Sonequa Martin-Green, who plays his on-screen wife. Now, the Star Trek: Discovery star has opened up about what it was like to depict such a strong family unit in a movie like Space Jam.
Sonequa Martin-Green’s Kamiyah may be a fictional character inspired by LeBron James’ real-life spouse, Savannah, but she still represents the backbone of the Space Jam: A New Legacy family. I recently spoke to Martin-Green about her work on the film, and we both agreed that the movie has its fair share of over-the-top moments, which can greatly be attributed to the antics of the Looney Tunes. It’s for this reason that the actress sees the bond between this Black family as a grounding element:
Well, that’s it, right? Because it is a grounding element, to see the family dynamic and to see the way that they navigate their success and then also how they navigate their failures, right? And I think it’s so important to see, I think it’s so important to see a Black family exhibited in this way.
While Space Jam: A New Legacy certainly needs its spectacle and hyper-realistic elements, there still needs to be a tangible aspect to it that allows viewers to relate to what’s transpiring. And in this case, it was quite refreshing to see that come to light in the form of a Black family. Believe it or not, it’s still not often that we get to see African-American families at the center of fantastical films like Space Jam. The Water Man and Black Panther are more recent instances in which this is the case.
Another aspect of the family that Sonequa Martin-Green appreciated was the relationship between Kamiyah and LeBron James. The interactions between the two were nice to see and sometimes funny. However, what Martin-Green loved most about their marriage is that it’s an equal partnership:
Then I also think it’s important to see this marriage exhibited in this way, because it’s a true partnership, and you can see that these two people co-helm their family. And you see how they have fit into their roles very nicely, and you know that that’s come from experience. I love it, I love that you see how influential LeBron, and then you also see how influential Kamyah is. So I think that the more we can see of that, the better…
The original Space Jam did portray Michael Jordan’s home life, including fictionalized versions of his then-wife, Juanita Jordan and their kids. However, Jordan’s big-screen wife and kids would play more of a background role than Kamiyah and the James kids do here. You can check out the 1996 movie on HBO Max, which you can sign up for using this link.
Sonequa Martin-Green makes a number of firm points, as such representation will only allow creatives to show more of the nuance within African-American family units. One can only hope that as time goes on, Black audiences, particularly families, will be able to see their realities reflected more frequently in a number of genres.