Hollywood actress Nia Long, born Nitara Carlynn Long, might not be as celebrated
as other international performers, but she has turned heads with the superb
leading role of Jordan Armstrong in the drama comedy The Best Man (1999), where
she collected an Image Award and a Black Reel Award. The recipient of the 2000
Black Star Award for Star of the Year, Long also won an NAACP Image Award,
thanks to her lovely portrayal of Officer Sasha Monroe in the acclaimed series
“Third Watch” (2003-2005). The actress will soon appear in the drama thriller
Premonition (2007) and the comedy Are We Done Yet (2007, reprising her role of
Outside her promising career in acting, Long also appeared in Kanye West’s music
video “Touch The Sky,” and tried her hand at directing with Yolanda Adams’ music
video “This Too Shall Pass.” The actress, who in 1997 formed a production
company, was third on the 2000 Black Men Magazine’s “10 Sexiest Women of the
Year” list and was one of the “50 Most Beautiful People in the World,” according
to People Magazine (2000).
As for her romantic life, Long was once linked to Peter Thomas (restaurant
owner), as well as Chris Webber (professional athlete). She was engaged to
Massai Zhivago Dorsey, with whom she shares a son. They broke up in 2001.
Childhood and Family:
In Brooklyn, New York, Nitara Carlynn Long, who would later be known as Nia
Long, was born on October 30, 1970. She is the only child of Doughtry Long (high
school teacher) and Talita Long (art teacher, bus driver). The name Nia is
derived from one of the Kwanzaa days.
Four years after her birth, Nia’s parents divorced, and when she was 6, Nia
moved with her mother to Iowa City, Iowa. They also later relocated to South
Central Los Angeles, where Nia attended Westchester High School. She continued
her studies at the Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, California. Nia, who
studied ballet, tap, jazz, gymnastics, guitar and acting, entered show business
to help ease her mother’s financial burden.
Nia has a son named Massai Zhivago Dorsey II (born on November 26, 2000), from
her relationship with actor Massai Zhivago Dorsey. Nia and Massai planned to
marry in June 2001, but they ended the relationship before the wedding took
Nia Long kicked off her career in show business with some appearances in stage
productions, including “227,” the core of the sitcom “227” (1986), where she
also made an unaccredited guest appearance. Long then took the supporting role
of Darla Perkins in the made-for-TV family movie The B.R.A.T. Patrol (1986) and
followed it up with a silver screen debut in the little-seen Buried Alive
(1990). It was ensued by her supporting part of Brandi in John Singleton’s Boyz
N the Hood (1991), alongside Cuba Gooding Jr. and Laurence Fishburne.
Long quickly acquired her first regular role in the daytime soap, “The Guiding
Light” (1991 -1993). She also collaborated with actor Will Smith in two
projects: the comedy Made in America (1993, Long took the leading role of Zora
Mathews) and the sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (1994-1995, she had the
recurring role of Lisa Wilkes, the girlfriend of Smith’s character). The
newcomer also impressively played Robin ‘Bird’ in the hit film Soul Food (1997),
before taking the title role of Jaqueline Blackman in the Forest
Whitaker-executive produced Black Jaq (1998, TV).
Her impeccable performances soon caught the attention of director/writer Malcolm
D. Lee, who cast her in the female lead part of Jordan Armstrong, the seductive
ex-girlfriend of the main character, in the drama comedy The Best Man (1999).
Long’s portrayal immediately received critics’ notice and garnered an Image and
a Black Reel award for Best Actress. Additionally, in 2000, she took home a
Black Star for Star of the Year. After portraying Abbie Halpert in the drama
thriller Boiler Room (2000), Long worked in a TV series again with the recurring
role of Andrea Solomon in “Judging Army” (2002).
The actress again proved her acting aptitude in 2003 when she joined the cast of
the Emmy-winning series “Third Watch” (2003-2005, as Officer Sasha Monroe) and
won an NAACP Image for Best Dramatic Actress. Outside the series, Long also had
roles in How to Get the Man’s Foot Outta Your Ass (2003), the remade Alfie
(2004) and the comedy Are We There Yet (2005, starred as Suzanne Kingston).
Recently, Long appeared as Cassie in the drama series “Everwood” (2006). She
will also be seen with a role in the drama thriller Premonition (2007),
featuring Sandra Bullock and Julian McMahon. Long will also reprise her role of
Suzanne Kingston in Are We Done Yet (2007).
NAACP Image: Best Dramatic Actress, “Third Watch,” 2004
Black Star: Star of the Year, 2000
Black Reel: Theatrical - Best Actress, The Best Man, 2000
Image: Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture, The Best Man, 2000