Nia Long

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Nia Talita Long (born October 30, 1970) is an American actress. Best known for her work in Black cinema, Long rose to prominence after starring in the film Boyz n the Hood (1991), and for her portrayal of Beullah "Lisa" Wilkes on the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1991-1995). She then appeared in Friday (1995), as well as the 1997 films Love Jones and Soul Food.

Long is also known for her roles in the films The Best Man (1999), and its sequel The Best Man Holiday (2013), as well as Big Momma's House (2000) and its sequel Big Momma's House 2 (2006). On television, she portrayed Sasha Monroe on the crime drama series Third Watch (2003-2005), and has starred on the Fox drama series Empire (2017), and the CBS action series NCIS: Los Angeles (2017-2018).

She has received several accolades, including three NAACP Image Awards and a Black Reel Award.

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Early life

Long was born in Brooklyn, New York City, to Talita Long (née Gillman), a teacher and printmaker, and Doughtry Long, a high school teacher and poet. Her mother is of Trinidadian descent. +more She has an older half-sister, the actress and comedian known as Sommore.

Long was two years old when her parents divorced. She accompanied her mother when she moved to Iowa City, Iowa, to study fine arts. +more Her mother moved to South Los Angeles when Long was seven years old, as she planned to marry there. She and her fiancé called off the wedding, but Talita chose to stay in Los Angeles. Long's father resided in Trenton, New Jersey.

She was bused from South LA to Paseo Del Rey Elementary School in Playa Del Rey from 3rd grade through 6th grade, and attended St. +more Mary's Academy in Inglewood, California. In addition to her academic classes, she studied ballet, tap, jazz, gymnastics, guitar, and acting. She graduated from Westchester High School in Los Angeles in 1989.

Career

Long's acting coach was Betty Bridges, better known as the mother of Diff'rent Strokes star Todd Bridges. Her earliest role was in the Disney television movie, The B. +moreR. A. T. Patrol alongside Sean Astin, Tim Thomerson and Brian Keith. Her first notable role on television was a three-year contract role as Kathryn "Kat" Speakes on the soap opera Guiding Light. Long portrayed Kat from 1991 to 1994. Long played Brandi in Boyz n the Hood. The film excited Long, who was doing her "first real movie role". It helped Long build her confidence as an actress. "It introduced me to the world in a way that it was okay for me to be who I am and still find success," she added. "I didn’t have to conform to anything. " From 1994 to 1995, she played Will Smith's girlfriend and fiancée Beulah "Lisa" Wilkes on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Jada Pinkett Smith was originally supposed to play Lisa, but was too short for the role (opposite a 6'2" Will Smith), thus leaving Long to take the part. However, in the second season of the show (episode 8 - "She Ain’t Heavy" 1992), Long appeared as Claudia, a love interest of Will's, alongside Queen Latifah. In 2000, Long was offered the role of Alex Munday in Charlie's Angels, but she turned it down, and the role was eventually given to Lucy Liu. In 2003, she joined the cast of the drama Third Watch, where she played NYPD Officer Sasha Monroe, continuing until the series finale in 2005. In 2005 and 2006, Long appeared on Everwood, and appeared on Boston Legal during its 2006-2007 season. Long also starred in Big Shots from 2007 to 2008 alongside Michael Vartan and Dylan McDermott. In 2016, Long was cast in a recurring role for the TV series Empire. She acquired the role of Giuliana, a Las Vegas club owner.

Long appeared in supporting roles in a number of movies such as Friday and Made in America. Long played a leading role, or a member of the primary ensemble, in several films, including Soul Food, Love Jones, Boiler Room, Big Momma's House, Are We There Yet?, and The Best Man. +more Ice Cube has starred with her in four films, while (fellow Westchester High alum) Regina King has starred with her in two. Long starred alongside Michael Beach in Soul Food and in the TV series Third Watch.

Long appears in the video for Kanye West's "Touch the Sky". She directed Yolanda Adams's music video for "This Too Shall Pass". +more She won a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series in 2004 for her performance on Third Watch. Long co-directed and appeared in Ashanti's music video, "Baby". She also made a guest appearance on the sitcom Living Single during its first season. She originally voiced Roberta Tubbs on The Cleveland Show before being replaced by Reagan Gomez-Preston.

She appeared in the 2013 film The Best Man Holiday, reprising her role from the original 1999 film. Unlike the original film, however, her character is in an interracial relationship with a white man. +more Long was revealed to be pursuing an interracial relationship in the film and explained: "We're living in a modern world where it happens and it's OK and it's no disrespect to any black man. I love black men, but the reality is the sistahs are marrying white men and the brothas are marrying white women and that's the world that we live in and it's not to be judged, and if it works for you then embrace it". Director Malcolm D. Lee also supported the interracial relationship being portrayed in the film. "African-American women who are extremely successful can't always find black male counterparts on that level so it's a little bit of a reflection of reality that black women are starting to date outside their race - and why not?".

In July 2020, Long starred in the Netflix psychological thriller Fatal Affair.

Personal life

Long has a son, born in 2000, from a previous relationship. Since 2010, she has been in a relationship with former NBA player and current Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka. +more They have a son, born in 2011. The couple became engaged in 2015, though Long has stated she has no plans to marry.

Long contributes her time to the Sterling Children's Home in Barbados as a motivational speaker.

Filmography

Film

YearTitleRoleNotes
1990Buried AliveFingers
1991Boyz n the HoodBrandi
1993Made in AmericaZora Mathews
1995FridayDebbie
1997Love JonesNina Mosley
1997Hav PlentyTrudy
1997Soul FoodRobyn "Bird" Joseph
1998ButterCarmen Jones
1998Black JaqJaqueline "Jaq" BlackmanTV Movie
1999In Too DeepMyra
1999The Best ManJordan Armstrong
1999StigmataDonna Chadway
1999Held UpRae
1999The Secret Laughter of WomenNimi Da Silva
2000The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic ComedyLeslie
2000Boiler RoomAbbie Halpert
2000If These Walls Could Talk 2KarenTV Movie
2000Big Momma's HouseSherry Pierce
2002Sightings: Heartland GhostLouTV Movie
2003BAADASSSSS!Sandra
2004The N-WordHerselfDocumentary
2004AlfieLonette
2005Are We There Yet?Suzanne Kingston
2006Big Momma's House 2Sherry Pierce-Turner
2007PremonitionAnnie
2007Are We Done Yet?Suzanne Persons
2008Gospel HillYvonne Palmer
2009Good HairHerselfDocumentary
2010Mooz-lumSafiyah
2010Boston's FinestTaylor SanchezTV Movie
2013The Best Man HolidayJordan Armstrong
2014The Single Moms ClubMay Miller
2016KeanuHannah
2017BeachesHillary WhitneyTV Movie
2017Roxanne RoxannePeggy
2017LemonCleo
2018The Goldbergs: 1990-SomethingLucy SomersTV Movie
201947 Meters Down: UncagedJennifer
2020The BankerEunice Garrett
2020Fatal AffairEllie Warren
2020Life in a YearCatherine
2022Look Both WaysLucy Galloway
2023You People
Searching 2Grace

Television

YearTitleRoleNotes
1986227GirlEpisode: "Slam Dunked"
1986The Disney Sunday MovieDarla PerkinsEpisode: "The B. R. +moreA. T Patrol"
1991The Fresh Prince of Bel-AirClaudiaEpisode: "She Ain't Heavy"
1991-93Guiding LightKatherine "Kat" SpeakesRegular Cast
1993Living SingleStacey EvansEpisode: "Love Takes a Holiday"
1994-95The Fresh Prince of Bel-AirLisa WilkesRecurring Cast: Season 5
1995Live ShotRamona GreerTV Series
1996ERChristy WilsonEpisode: "Baby Shower"
1996MoeshaBabysitterEpisode: "A Concerted Effort: Part 1 & 2"
2001-02Judging AmyAndrea SolomonRecurring Cast: Season 3
2003-05Third WatchOfficer Sasha MonroeMain Cast: Season 5-6
2006EverwoodCassieEpisode: "Truth"
2007Boston LegalVanessa WalkerRecurring Cast: Season 3
2007-08Big ShotsKatie GrahamMain Cast
2009-10The Cleveland ShowRoberta Tubbs (voice)Main Cast: Season 1
2011ChaseMelissa RandolphEpisode: "Narco: Part 2"
2013House of LiesTamaraRecurring Cast: Season 2
2014The DivideBillie PageMain Cast
2016Uncle BuckAlexis Smith-RussellMain Cast
2017Hand of GodIzzyRecurring Cast: Season 2
2017Dear White PeopleNeika HobbsRecurring Cast: Season 1
2017EmpireGiuliana 'Giusi' GreenRecurring Cast: Season 3
2017-18NCIS: Los AngelesExecutive Assistant Director Shay MosleyMain Cast: Season 9-10
2020blackAFLavetteRecurring Cast
The Best Man: The Final ChaptersJordan ArmstrongMain Cast
.

Music videos

YearSongArtistNotes
1995"Keep Their Heads Ringin'"Dr. +more DreDancer
2002"Baby"Ashanti
2005"Touch the Sky"Kanye West featuring Lupe Fiasco
2008"Long Distance Girlfriend"Heavy D
2015"California Roll"Snoop Dogg featuring Stevie WonderWoman in Theatre
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Awards and nominations

InstitutionCategoryYearWorkResult
American Black Film FestivalBest Actress1998Love JonesNominated
American Black Film FestivalStar of the Year2000N/AWon
American Black Film FestivalBest Actress2014The Best Man HolidayWon
American Black Film FestivalBest Ensemble Cast2014The Best Man HolidayWon
BET Comedy AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actress in a Theatrical Film2005AlfieNominated
Black Reel AwardsOutstanding Actress2000The Best ManWon
Black Reel AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actress2001Boiler RoomNominated
Black Reel AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actress2005AlfieNominated
Black Reel AwardsOutstanding Actress2012Mooz-lumNominated
Black Reel AwardsOutstanding Actress2014The Best Man HolidayNominated
Black Reel AwardsOutstanding Actress, TV Movie or Limited Series2018BeachesNominated
Blockbuster Entertainment AwardsFavorite Actress - Comedy2001Big Momma's HouseNominated
NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series1996The Fresh Prince of Bel-AirNominated
NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Actress in a Motion Picture1998Love JonesNominated
NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Actress in a Motion Picture2000The Best ManWon
NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special2001If These Walls Could Talk 2Nominated
NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Actress in a Motion Picture2001Big Momma's HouseNominated
NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Actress in a Drama Series2004Third WatchWon
NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Actress in a Drama Series2005Third WatchWon
NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series2014House of LiesNominated
NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture2021The BankerNominated

American people of Trinidad and Tobago descent

Living people

20th-century African-American women

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