Having appeared in classic movies such as Friday, Love Jones and Soul Food, as well as starting as Lisa in the hit 90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, it is safe to say that Nia Long has established herself as a seasoned veteran in film and television.
She began her career in 1986 with a small role in the show 227; but it wasn’t until 1990 that she would be cast in her first film. As soon as the world got a glimpse of the California-raised beauty, audiences were hooked.
Throughout the years, she has provided viewers with plenty of scene-stealing moments. Below are 11 times this 2022 ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood honoree made the culture proud on screen.
The 2022 ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Awards is sponsored by Coca-Cola, Ford, Disney’s Onyx Collective, SmartWater and Warner Brothers Television Group.
Brandi consoles Tre in ‘Boyz n the Hood’
In 1991’s Boyz n The Hood, after Tre was treated unfairly after being stopped by LAPD officers, Brandi (Nia Long) allowed him to be vulnerable as a Black man. Showing emotion is something that has always been taboo for a male of color.
Lisa teaches Will a lesson in respect.
Nia Long goes all Kathy Bates in Misery on Will with this performance. As Lisa, Long shows both crazy and comedic in the same scene.
Nina tells Josie that her and Darius are just “kickin’ it.”
In one of the more memorable scenes in Love Jones, Nina and Josie discuss her “encounter” with Darius the previous night. The dialogue between these two women resonated with so many viewers. “Girl talk” at its finest.
Showing young black women that you can be an entrepreneur.
1997’s Soul Food became a cultural classic. In the film, Long played Bird, the youngest of the family’s three siblings and the owner of her own hair salon. It’s always good to see strong black women taking control of their careers.
Debbie confronts Deebo in ‘Friday’
When no one else had the heart to do so, Debbie – Long’s character in the film – threatens Deebo, the neighborhood bully, with violence because he put his hands on her sister.
The slap heard around the world
When Harper arrives at Jordan’s apartment for what was supposed to be an intimate evening – all hell breaks loose. Showing that she is not the one to blame for Harper’s idiocy, Jordan makes her point loud and clear, ending with a smack in the face the Harper felt in his soul. Classic scene in The Best Man.
A mother tells her daughter never to miss curfew in the realest way.
When Roxanne Shante comes home after her curfew, her mother Peggy (played by Long) lets her know that she needs to come home on time, or not come home at all.
Never forget the name, “Nia Long”
Kanye West’s song “Touch Sky” was amazing, but the video was even better. Ms. Long had a hilarious cameo in the video and let the biggest rapper in the world at the time know exactly who he was talking to.
Long speaks about the complexity of the dictionary’s ugliest word.
In this 2004 Peabody Award-winning film, Long spoke about her experience with the “n-word,” and its effect.
You are not your hair.
In yet another documentary appearance, Nia Long talks about the stereotypes that exist within the black community when it comes to hair texture. She gives amazing insight into the false narrative that “good” hair determines beauty.
The importance of equality.
In 2011’s Mooz-lum, Long plays Safiyah, the compassionate mother of the protagonist, Tariq Mahdi, as he attends college after the events of 9/11. Her role in this film was underrated, and her acting was exemplary.