Nia Long: “You Have To Be In The Moment”

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Actress Nitara Carlynn Long, better known as “Nia Long” has graced many movie screens in some of Black America’s most iconic movies: Soul Food, Friday, The Best Man, the list goes on and on. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 25 years since her role on the classic film, Boyz N The Hood. Now, the star, 46, is a mother of two and has learned to appreciate her journey to where she is now.

“We were all young and just trying to make a great movie, but we were pretty naive,” confesses Long. “The people with the most experience were Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne. I truly relied on Laurence. I watched him and the way he worked, especially the way he supported our young, first-time director, John Singleton. Laurence really helped to shepherd the project along. For me as a young girl, it was beautiful to watch because he never made John feel like he didn’t know what he was doing. Laurence would just gently make suggestions.”

“There’s even a key moment in the film where I run across the street to tell Laurence’s character [Jason “Furious” Styles] that Ricky has been shot. The first time I did it, I was really worried I would overact. I didn’t want to seem overly dramatic. So I guess I was underacting. Laurence said, “No, this has to be explosive and big and hysterical. Go for it.” And he just whispered it in my ear. He didn’t make me feel like I was terrible, and he made me feel that I was capable. And I think for a young actor, for a young artist, that’s really important.”

(photo credit: nia long twitter)

(photo credit: nia long twitter)

“I have taken that lesson with me. I try to do the same thing when I’m with young actors who are new and unsure. I try to do the same thing for them that I saw Laurence and Angela do for all of us on Boyz n the Hood. More than anything, 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.”

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