A charismatic actress who possesses equal parts beauty and talent, Nia Long became a fixture of many African-American ensemble films of the late 1990s. Born in Brooklyn, New York, on October 30, 1970, Long developed an interest in acting at an early age. She received training from Betty Bridges, mother of former child star Todd Bridges (best known for his role on the TV series Diff’rent Strokes.
Long got her start on TV, playing a character on the soap opera Guiding Light from 1991 to 1993. She earned her first helping of fame with her role on the popular sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel Air, which cast her as Will Smith’s love interest. The actress made her film debut in John Singleton’s acclaimed Boyz ‘N the Hood (1991), sharing the screen with the likes of Cuba Gooding, Jr., Ice Cube, Angela Basset, and Lawrence Fishburne. She followed the film with Made in America (1993), a comedy that cast her as the daughter of Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson.
Long subsequently established herself as a strong presence in romantic dramas and comedies, carving out a niche in such films as Soul Food (1997), Love Jones (1997), and The Best Man (1999). The actress also ventured into a number of other genres, as demonstrated by her roles in films ranging from supernatural horror (Stigmata) (1999) to big business crime drama (The Boiler Room) (1999) to inner-city police thriller (In Too Deep) (1999).