“Acting introduced me to the world in a way that it was okay for me to be who I am and still find success… I didn’t have to conform to anything.” – Nia Long.
American actresses usually have a personality like no other as they portray their character without losing sight of themselves in the process. One such actress is Nitara Carlynn Long, also known as Nia Long. Best known for her roles in the films ‘In Too Deep’, ‘Soul Food’, ‘Best Man’, ‘Friday’, ‘Big Momma’s House’, ‘Love Jones’, ‘Boyz In The Hood’, to name a few. Nia has won over the hearts of many in the movie and television industry.
“I took away that spirit of collaboration and just being open. It is important not to be married to a single choice. You have to be open, to be in the moment. I don’t remember exactly what our budget was, but it was small! We did not have a lot to work with. But we had a cast that cared.” – Nia Long, making reference to her time acting in the movie ‘Boyz In The Hood’.
The Fresh Prince of Belair actress was born in Brooklyn New York to Talia and Doughtry Long. She has a strong Caribbean heritage, specifically Barbadian and Trinidadian descent. In her early years, Long took up acting under the tutelage of Betty Bridges and landed the role of Kathryn Speakes in the Disney movie ‘Guiding Light’ on a five year contract.
“As an actor, I can tell you it makes a big difference to have a director who is collaborative. What motivates a character in my mind could be completely different from what the director’s thinking. You have to have those conversations ahead of time and throughout the process. It affects the performance. I have been in situations where actors are treated like robots: say the lines, say it like this, we don’t have time for conversations. That is a terrible position to be in as an artist. You feel used. I want to have those conversations, because they give you confidence in your choices.” – Nia Long
Her success increased as she was afforded the opportunity to act alongside Will Smith as his girlfriend and fiancé Lisa on the Fresh Prince of Belair. Although she was offered a role in Charlie’s Angels in 2000, she turned the offer down and in 2003 she joined the drama series ‘Third Watch’ and in 2006 appeared on ‘Everwood’ and ‘Boston Legal’. In 2007 she was cast in ‘Big Shots’ the series.
“Collaboration is necessary for making great art. Everybody has a perspective on what they think or feel the material should ultimately look like when it hits the screen. For example, in Alfie, Charles Shyer was very collaborative and very open to our suggestions.” – Nia Long
Nia won the Image Awards for Outstanding Actress in Television Drama in 2004 and 2005. She also won the Black Reel Awards 2000’s Best Actress, Acapulco Black Film Festival 2000 Star of the Year, Hollywood Award for Best Ensemble Cast and Best Actress in 2014. She was also nominated for twelve additional awards.
While Nia has an impressive list of roles that she starred in from her first decision to be an actress until the present, she also has a very successful life outside of filming and the big screen. She is engaged to Ime Udoke and has two beautiful children. She also is a motivational speaker at the Sterling Children’s Home in Barbados and supports the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
By Alexandra Daley