Nia Long

Active - 1986 - Present  |   Born - Oct 30, 1970 in Brooklyn, New York, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy Drama, Comedy, Thriller, Culture & Society

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Biography by Rebecca Flint Marx

A charismatic actress who possesses equal parts beauty and talent, Nia Long became a fixture of many African-American ensemble films of the late 1990s. Born in Brooklyn, New York, on October 30, 1970, Long developed an interest in acting at an early age. She received training from Betty Bridges, mother of former child star Todd Bridges (best known for his role on the TV series Diff'rent Strokes.

Long got her start on TV, playing a character on the soap opera Guiding Light from 1991 to 1993. She earned her first helping of fame with her role on the popular sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel Air, which cast her as Will Smith's love interest. The actress made her film debut in John Singleton's acclaimed Boyz 'N the Hood (1991), sharing the screen with the likes of Cuba Gooding, Jr., Ice Cube, Angela Basset, and Lawrence Fishburne. She followed the film with Made in America (1993), a comedy that cast her as the daughter of Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson.

Long subsequently established herself as a strong presence in romantic dramas and comedies, carving out a niche in such films as Soul Food (1997), Love Jones (1997), and The Best Man (1999). The actress also ventured into a number of other genres, as demonstrated by her roles in films ranging from supernatural horror (Stigmata) (1999) to big business crime drama (The Boiler Room) (1999) to inner-city police thriller (In Too Deep) (1999).

As the new century got under way she had major roles in Big Momma's House and Boiler Room, as well as BAADASSSSS! On the small screen she joined the cast of the NBC drama Third Watch. In 2005 she was in the hit Are We There Yet?, and she followed that up with the sequel Are We Done Yet. Long also made time for the sequel Big Momma's House 2. In 2010 she appeared in the drama Mooz-lum. She reprised her role from The Best Man in the 2013 sequel The Best Man Holiday and later starred in The Single Moms Club.

Movie Highlights

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  • Her name, Nia, comes from the fifth day of Kwanzaa and represents "life purpose."
  • Was coached in acting for 15 years by Betty Bridges, mother of Todd Bridges.
  • Began her career with an uncredited appearance in a 1986 episode of the sitcom 227.
  • Won back-to-back Image Awards for her role in Third Watch (2004 and 2005).
  • Received the first Essence of Being Extraordinary Award from the charity HerShe Group, which gives assistance to girls in foster care as they transition into adulthood.
  • Posed naked for a PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) ad in 2009.