Actress Nia Long has had a long, varied career over the years in film & television. The Brooklyn, NY native got her start in films but it’s her television appearances opposite Will Smith that she’s reminisced about recently, spilling some info about her relationship with friend & Will’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith.
Breaking out in her first role in John Singleton’s Boyz in the Hood, Long has continued to work and build upon her impressive resume. She’s a black icon, having appeared in so many projects that are near and dear to Black Americans, including Soul Food, Friday and more. It’s one of her more recent projects, The Banker, opposite Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson that’s had her sharing some of her own history in the business.
Back in 1990 or so, there was a hit television show you might have heard of – The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which starred the then-rapper Will Smith in his own TV vehicle after reaching music success. Long had a memorable role on the show as Will’s girlfriend – a role which she shared almost went to her good friend Pinkett, who was not yet married to Smith.
While Pinkett Smith was originally cast for the role, according to Long, producers instead recast Long in the role because she was 2-inches taller than Pinkett Smith. The height mattered because of how tall Will Smith is, standing at 6’2”. Pinkett Smith is a very petite 5’ tall and the look was important to producers at the time.
Long also appeared more than once on the series, many fans may remember. Before her stint as Lisa in Season 5 of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Long had a single episode role in Season 2 as Claudia, a ditsy date of young Will. In the episode, Will shares a connection with Dee Dee, played by Queen Latifah, but based on superficial reasons, chooses to date Claudia instead. The teen quickly regrets his decision.
Long told People TV that she has a running joke with Pinkett Smith over the years, saying, “I got the job, but she got the husband.” The famous couple married back in 1997, while Jada was 3 months pregnant. Will and Jada have been together for decades, despite their current troubles sweeping the Internet.
Despite their decades-long romance, the pair are facing rumors that Jada Smith Pinkett was having an “affair” with R&B singer August Alsina. Alsina also claims that Will Smith was aware of the relationship and gave them permission to have it, but now Alsina is feeling cut off from his once friend Pinkett Smith. He shared the story with radio personality Angela Yee while doing promotion for his latest album.
Controversy aside, Long’s comment shows at least how long she’s been in the industry and continues to work, with her resume now including many other shows and films. Her latest movie, Fatal Affair, stars another recognizable Black talent from the 90’s and 2000’s, Omar Epps. The film debuts on Netflix July 16th.
See the trailer below.