Just a few months after enduring a very public cheating scandal with her ex-fiance Ime Udoka, Nia Long is at the top of her game and giving people lots to talk about.
Recently, she opened up in an interview with Yahoo Entertainment for an installation of their Role Recall series. During her interview, she discussed everything from her past work in classics like Boyz n the Hood, Love Jones, and Fresh Prince to the recent release of Best Man: The Final Chapters. But she also alluded to the heartbreaking impact her split with Ime had on her.
She started off discussing the pressure her long-time friend and co-star Will Smith has faced to appear a certain way in the eyes of the public, particularly in the wake of the Oscars slap. She suggested that the “room to be human” she and other actors from her generation had no longer exists, before discussing the impact that pressure had on her during one of the darkest times in her life.
“I’ve had some pretty devastating moments in my life over the past couple of months and I’ve had to say ‘It’s alright, you’ll pick yourself back up,’” she said as she fanned away tears, taking a moment to compose herself. “But you pick yourself back up and you keep it moving.”
And keep it moving, she has. Recently, she was one of the celebrities on the invite-only list to see Beyoncé’s first live performance in four years in Dubai. While she was there, this cute moment of her and Terrence J on their way to hang out went viral.
Nia Long & Terrence J in Dubai ðŸ‘€ pic.twitter.com/m8Nb4WUsP4— Daily Loud (@DailyLoud) January 21, 2023
And don’t even get me started on this clip of her red carpet moment with Omarion, which raised eyebrows. I think I speak for all of us when I say, we love to see it!
Nia Long deserves to have some fun â€¦ Omarion looks like fun ðŸ˜‚ pic.twitter.com/3X160HtzMl— Katherine Harris (@IamKatHarris) January 20, 2023
If there’s one thing that’s clear, even in this tiny portion of the interview, it’s that Nia is not trying to hide the devastation that’s taken place in her personal life. And how could she? With so many crucial projects on the go, and her hard-earned reputation as one of America’s favourite Black actresses, there was no way the scandal was going to be any less public than it was. And according to Nia, the publicity of the scandal had a lot to do with the way it was handled by the Boston Celtics.
“I think the most heartbreaking thing about all of this was seeing my son’s face when the Boston Celtics organization decided to make a very private situation public,” she told The Hollywood Reporter last month, adding that she had to take her 11-year-old son, Kez, out of school when the scandal broke.
“It was devastating, and it still is. He still has moments where it’s not easy for him. If you’re in the business of protecting women — I’m sorry, no one from the Celtics organization has even called to see if I’m OK, to see if my children are OK. It’s very disappointing,” she continued.
Despite all this, Nia has kept herself fairly busy. Around Christmas, The Best Man: Final Chapters premiered on Peacock. Earlier this month, Missing, a thriller she stars in alongside Storm Reid premiered in theatres. And tomorrow, You People, where she stars alongside Eddie Murphy, Jonah Hill and Julia Louis-Dreyfus will be available to watch on Netflix.
Like many women, throwing herself into her work has helped curb the blow of the devastation. But evolving in her career is a strategic move to be more disciplined. It’s part of the reason she’s set her sights on moving beyond being in front of the camera and will be getting behind it as a director. Currently, she’s working on a project that’s in the very early stages of development. The film is about a love story set in the 1940s. Nia told THR that she’s “really, really, really, really, really excited” about it.
She acknowledged the sisterhood that’s carried her through the last few months, saying, “I literally felt like my heart had jumped out of my body. And then what I found was this tribe of women and men who were standing up for me in a way that felt like I was in this bubble of protection, and that was very comforting.”
It’s so refreshing to hear about Nia’s successes. And even more refreshing to hear that she’s pouring into herself and her friendships – and that she’s getting the support she needs in return. Ever since Jane Fonda, Sally Field, Lily Tomlin and Rita Moreno went viral over that clip about friendship, which Lainey wrote about in this piece, I can’t help but feel like sometimes there is so much emphasis on romantic relationships and not nearly enough on friendships. There are so many ways to love, and to be loved back.
If there’s one thing that’s clear in her interview with Yahoo, it’s that Nia knows how to keep it moving. She described being turned down for Charlie’s Angels after being told she “looked too sophisticated” next to Drew Barrymore. So she ended up with a role in Big Momma’s House instead, starring alongside Martin Lawrence – and she says it ended up being more fun for her. My favourite part of the interview though, is what came next, where she paid homage to some of the best in the business, particularly because I’ve always felt like the two women she mentioned have always been underrated and underappreciated.
“You know, the turnover in this industry is so frequent that we forget about the guys that really just came and allowed Black people to have success in television. Do you know how many people worked because of Martin Lawrence? Do you know how many people worked because of Tichina Arnold? Tisha Campbell is a legend,” she said. “And so I look at them and I just go, 'Wow, they need to be celebrated more.'"
While her humility is commendable, I can’t help but feel like so many fans of Nia Long, particularly the Black ones, look at her and think the same thing. That she also deserves to be celebrated more.
“2023 is like the year of new beginnings for me,” she told THR in December. “I couldn’t be more excited.” I hope she knows we’re excited, too.