Nia Long
Long in February 2012
Nia Talita Long

(1970-10-30) October 30, 1970 (age 53)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Years active1986–present
PartnerIme Udoka (2010–2022)
RelativesSommore (half-sister)

Nia Talita Long (born October 30, 1970)[1] is an American actress. Best known for her work in Black cinema,[2] 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 two NAACP Image Awards and a Black Reel Award.

Early life

Long was born in Brooklyn to Talita Long (née Gillman), a teacher and printmaker,[3] and Doughtry Long, a high school teacher and poet.[4] Her mother is of Trinidadian descent.[5][6] She has an older half-sister, the actress and comedian known as Sommore.[7] When Long was two years old, her parents divorced. She accompanied her mother who moved to Iowa City, Iowa, to study fine arts.

When Long was seven, her mother moved to South Los Angeles, where she planned to marry. She and her fiancé called off the wedding, but Talita chose to stay in Los Angeles.[8] 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. 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.[9][10]


Long's acting coach was Betty Bridges, better known as the mother of Diff'rent Strokes star Todd Bridges.[1] Her earliest role was in the Disney television film The B.R.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.[11] Long portrayed Kat from 1991 to 1994. Long also played Brandi in Boyz n the Hood.[11] The film excited Long, who was doing her "first real movie role". It also 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."[12][13] From 1994 to 1995, she played Will Smith's girlfriend and fiancée Beulah "Lisa" Wilkes on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.[11] 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. Also, in the second season of the show (episode 8 - "She Ain't Heavy" 1992), Long appeared as Claudia, a love interest of Smith's, alongside Queen Latifah.

Long in 2009

In 2000, Long auditioned for the role of Alex Munday in Charlie's Angels, but did not get the part because she "looked too sophisticated and too old next to Drew Barrymore." The role was eventually given to Lucy Liu.[14] In 2003, Long 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 guest-starred on Boston Legal during its 2006–2007 season. She then starred alongside Michael Vartan and Dylan McDermott in Big Shots from 2007 to 2008. In 2016, Long was cast as Giuliana, a Las Vegas club owner, in a recurring role on the TV series Empire.[15]

Long has had supporting roles in a number of films such as Friday and Made in America. She has also played a leading role, or was a member of the primary ensemble, in several films,[11] including Soul Food, Love Jones, Boiler Room, Big Momma's House, Are We There Yet?, and The Best Man. Ice Cube has starred with her in four films, while fellow Westchester High alum Regina King has starred with her in two. Long has also starred alongside Michael Beach in the film Soul Food and on the TV series Third Watch.[citation needed]

Long made a cameo appearance in the video for Kanye West's "Touch the Sky". She also directed Yolanda Adams's video for "This Too Shall Pass". Long won a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series in 2004 for her performance on Third Watch.[11] She co-directed and appeared in Ashanti's music video, "Baby", and made a guest appearance on the sitcom Living Single during its first season. She originally voiced Roberta Tubbs on The Cleveland Show[11] before being replaced by Reagan Gomez-Preston.

Long later 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. After Long was revealed to be pursuing an interracial relationship in the film, she 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?"[16]

In July 2020, Long starred in the Netflix psychological thriller Fatal Affair.[17][18][19] In 2022, Long starred in the Peacock miniseries The Best Man: The Final Chapters, once again reprising her role from the previous films.[20]

Personal life

Long contributes her time to the Sterling Children's Home in Barbados as a motivational speaker.[21]

In 2010, Long started dating then-National Basketball Association player Ime Udoka.[11] Together, they have a son, born in 2011.[22] Long also has an older son, born in 2000, from a previous relationship.[11][22] Long and Udoka became engaged in 2015, though Long stated she had no plans to marry.[23][24] The couple split in 2022 after Udoka, who at that point had become head coach of the Boston Celtics, was revealed to have had an affair with a Celtics staff member.[25]



Year Title Role Notes
1990 Buried Alive Fingers
1991 Boyz n the Hood Brandi
1993 Made in America Zora Mathews
1995 Friday Debbie
1997 Love Jones Nina Mosley
Hav Plenty Trudy
Soul Food Robyn "Bird" Joseph
1998 Butter Carmen Jones
1999 In Too Deep Myra
The Best Man Jordan Armstrong
Stigmata Donna Chadway
Held Up Rae
The Secret Laughter of Women Nimi Da Silva
2000 The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy Leslie
Boiler Room Abbie Halpert
Big Momma's House Sherry Pierce
2003 BAADASSSSS! Sandra
2004 The N-Word Herself Documentary
Alfie Lonette
2005 Are We There Yet? Suzanne Kingston
2006 Big Momma's House 2 Sherry Pierce-Turner
2007 Premonition Annie
Are We Done Yet? Suzanne Persons
2008 Gospel Hill Yvonne Palmer
2009 Good Hair Herself Documentary
2010 Mooz-lum Safiyah
2013 The Best Man Holiday Jordan Armstrong
2014 The Single Moms Club May Miller
2016 Keanu Hannah
2017 Roxanne Roxanne Peggy
Lemon Cleo
2019 47 Meters Down: Uncaged Jennifer
2020 The Banker Eunice Garrett
Fatal Affair Ellie Warren
Life in a Year Catherine
2022 Look Both Ways Lucy Galloway
2023 You People Fatima Mohammed
Missing Grace
2025 Michael Katherine Jackson Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1986 227 Girl Episode: "Slam Dunked"
The Disney Sunday Movie Darla Perkins Episode: "The B.R.A.T Patrol"
1991 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Claudia Episode: "She Ain't Heavy"
1991–1993 Guiding Light Katherine "Kat" Speakes Regular cast
1993 Living Single Stacey Evans Episode: "Love Takes a Holiday"
1994–1995 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Lisa Wilkes Recurring cast (season 5)
1995 Live Shot Ramona Greer TV series
1996 ER Christy Wilson Episode: "Baby Shower"
Moesha Babysitter Episode: "A Concerted Effort: Part 1 & 2"
1998 Black Jaq Jaqueline "Jaq" Blackman Television film
2000 If These Walls Could Talk 2 Karen Television film
2001–2002 Judging Amy Andrea Solomon Recurring cast (season 3)
2002 Sightings: Heartland Ghost Lou Television film
2003–2005 Third Watch Officer Sasha Monroe Main cast (season 5-6)
2006 Everwood Cassie Episode: "Truth"
2007 Boston Legal Vanessa Walker Recurring cast (season 3)
2007–08 Big Shots Katie Graham Main cast
2009–2010 The Cleveland Show Roberta Tubbs Voice, main cast (season 1)
2010 Boston's Finest Taylor Sanchez Television film
2011 Chase Melissa Randolph Episode: "Narco: Part 2"
2013 House of Lies Tamara Recurring cast (season 2)
2014 The Divide Billie Page Main cast
2016 Uncle Buck Alexis Smith-Russell Main cast
2017 Hand of God Izzy Recurring cast (season 2)
Dear White People Neika Hobbs Recurring cast (season 1)
Empire Giuliana 'Giusi' Green Recurring cast (season 3)
Beaches Hillary Whitney Television film
2017–2018 NCIS: Los Angeles E.A.D. Shay Mosley Main cast (season 9-10)
2018 The Goldbergs: 1990-Something Lucy Somers Television film
2020 blackAF Lavette Recurring cast
2022 The Best Man: The Final Chapters Jordan Armstrong Main cast
2023 The Daily Show Herself (Guest) Episode: "January 25"

Music videos

Year Song Artist Notes
1995 "Keep Their Heads Ringin'" Dr. Dre Dancer
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 Wonder Woman in Theatre

Awards and nominations

Institution Category Year Work Result
American Black Film Festival Best Actress 1998 Love Jones Nominated
Star of the Year 2000 Won
Best Actress 2014 The Best Man Holiday Won
Best Ensemble Cast Won
BET Comedy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Theatrical Film 2005 Alfie Nominated
Black Reel Awards Outstanding Actress 2000 The Best Man Won
Outstanding Supporting Actress 2001 Boiler Room Nominated
2005 Alfie Nominated
Outstanding Actress 2012 Mooz-lum Nominated
2014 The Best Man Holiday Nominated
Outstanding Actress, TV Movie or Limited Series 2018 Beaches Nominated
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Favorite Actress - Comedy 2001 Big Momma's House Nominated
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series 1996 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture 1998 Love Jones Nominated
2000 The Best Man Won
Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special 2001 If These Walls Could Talk 2 Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Big Momma's House Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series 2004 Third Watch Won
2005 Won
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series 2014 House of Lies Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture 2021 The Banker Nominated


  1. ^ a b "Nia Long Biography". Archived from the original on September 18, 2015.
  2. ^ "'Soul Food' Turns 25: See The Film's Cast Then And Now". September 27, 2022. Retrieved September 27, 2022. * "The Problem With How We're Talking About The Nia Long/ Ime Udoka Cheating Scandal". Refinery29. Retrieved September 27, 2022.
  3. ^ Cummings, Renée (March 9, 2012). "Talita Long, mother of actress Nia Long..." Sunday Express. Trinidad: Caribbean Communication Network. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved July 31, 2017.
  4. ^ Parker, L. A. (January 30, 2020). "Trenton Poet Laureate Doughtry 'Doc' Long impacted family and community". The Trentonian. MediaNews Group. Archived from the original (Tribute) on June 10, 2022. Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  5. ^ Daniels, Karu F. (December 21, 2005). "Lauryn Hill, Nia Long". BV Entertainment Newswire – AOL Black Voices. Archived from the original on September 8, 2006. Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  6. ^ Hova, Tray (September 15, 2010). "Pandora's Box: Mashonda Interviews Nia Long". Archived from the original (Interview) on October 27, 2021. Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  7. ^ "Nia Long & Sommore Are REAL SISTERS But THIS Is Why We NEVER See Them Together". I Love Old School Music. December 13, 2016. Archived from the original (Photo gallery & text) on March 7, 2017. Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  8. ^ Brady, James (January 16, 2005). "In Step With: Nia Long". Parade. p. 22. OCLC 1772138. Archived from the original (Magazine) on March 22, 2006. Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  9. ^ Decker, Ed (December 6, 2020) [16 October 2020]. "Nia Long 1970–". Cengage. Archived from the original (Contemporary Black Biography) on December 4, 2020. Retrieved June 10, 2022. Before graduating from Westchester High School in Los Angeles in 1989, Nia Long was often involved with a tough crowd. Gale K1606005461
  10. ^ "Nia Long". Empire online. Peterborough, UK: Bauer Media Group. Archived from the original on August 19, 2017. Retrieved June 10, 2022. She attended the Roman Catholic school St. Mary's Academy and studied ballet, tap, jazz, gymnastics, guitar, and acting. She graduated from Westchester High School in 1989.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h "Nia Long". Contemporary Black Biography. Vol. 95. Cengage: Gale In Context: Biography. 2012. Gale K1606005461. From there, Long went to New York, where she took on the role of teenage vamp Kathryn "Kat" Speakes on the CBS daytime drama The Guiding Light, a part that gave her a chance to learn the ropes of the business. "Let's just say it wasn't the most creative work, but it was great for a newcomer," she explained to Cindy Pearlman in the Chicago Sun-Times. "I look at those years on 'Guiding Light' as my years in college. I mean, what did I know? I was this only child from Iowa. My world had no drama." Long stayed with the series for three years--until her character was shipped off to Europe--and earned an NAACP Image Award nomination for her performance in 1993.
  12. ^ Garland, Maurice (July 12, 2011). "Nia Long, Bun B and Davey D Discuss the 20th Anniversary of Boyz N the Hood". Archived from the original on July 15, 2011. Retrieved July 20, 2022.
  13. ^ Melton, Nicole Marie (July 14, 2011). "Nia Long Reflects on 20th Anniversary of 'Boyz n the Hood'". Essence. Time Inc. ISSN 0014-0880. Archived from the original on June 17, 2021. Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  14. ^ McArdle, Tommy (January 24, 2023). "Nia Long Says She Was Told She Looked 'Too Old' Next to Drew Barrymore for 'Charlie's Angels'". Retrieved March 5, 2023.
  15. ^ Imarenezor, Christine (November 25, 2016). "Nia Long Snags New Role On Season 3 Of 'Empire'". Retrieved November 27, 2016.
  16. ^ Ramos, Dorkys (November 18, 2013). "Nia Long Wanted a White Boyfriend on The Best Man Holiday". BET.
  17. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (October 2, 2019). "Nia Long To Produce & Star Alongside Omar Epps And Stephen Bishop In Netflix Film 'Fatal Affair'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  18. ^ Lawrence, Gregory (July 1, 2020). "The Trailer for Netflix's 'Fatal Affair' Delivers Cheesy Domestic Thriller Realness". Collider. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  19. ^ Guerrasio, Jason (July 16, 2020). "Nia Long is done playing the Hollywood game". Insider. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  20. ^ "'The Best Man: The Final Chapters' Review: Peacock Series Is a Holiday Binge Fans Will Cherish". The Wrap. December 22, 2022.
  21. ^ Ulen, Eisa Nefertar (November 2010). "Nia: A Purpose-Driven Life". Ebony. Vol. 67, no. 1. Johnson Publishing. p. 90.
  22. ^ a b Macatee, Rebecca (November 10, 2011). "Nia Long Gives Birth to Son Kez Sunday Udoka". Us Weekly. Archived from the original on November 12, 2011. Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  23. ^ Nessif, Bruna (May 27, 2015). "Nia Long Engaged to Longtime Boyfriend Ime Udoka—See the Ring!". E! News. Retrieved May 8, 2021.
  24. ^ Grant, Jasmine (July 24, 2020). "Exclusive: Nia Long Explains Why She's Not A Fan of Marriage". Essence. ISSN 0014-0880. Archived from the original on July 27, 2020. Retrieved May 8, 2021.
  25. ^ Brown, Preezy (December 7, 2022). "Nia Long And Ime Udoka Break Up After Celtics Cheating Scandal". Vibe. Retrieved January 2, 2023.