Actor and producer Nitara Carlynn Long, of Trinidadian descent, was born on October 30, 1970, in Brooklyn, New York, to Talita Gillman Long, an educator and printmaker, and Doughtry Long, an educator and poet. She was, however, raised in Los Angeles, California. On her father’s side, she has an older sister named Lori Ann Rambough.
Long went to St. Mary’s Academy, a Roman Catholic girls’ school in Inglewood, California. She took Classical Ballet, jazz, tap, and acting classes after school. She graduated from Westchester High School, a public high school in Los Angeles, in 1989. Long played Beulah “Lisa” Wilkes, the girlfriend of actor Will Smith on the popular television show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, from 1991 to 1995.
Long was named “Star of the Year” at the American Black Film Festival in 2000 for her performance in the film The Best Man Holiday. She also won an award for “Outstanding Actress” in Best Man at the BET Comedy Awards that year. She received the “Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture” award at the Blockbuster Entertainment Awards for her performance in The Best Man. Long won the NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series” for the crime drama television series Third Watch in 2004 and 2005. She was also nominated for “Best Actress” and “Best Ensemble Cast” at the 2014 American Black Film Festival for The Best Man Holiday.
She has also been nominated for numerous awards, including Black Reel Awards, BET Comedy Awards for “Outstanding Actress,” and BET Comedy Awards for “Outstanding Supporting Actress” in the films Alfie, Beaches, Boiler Room, and Mooz-lum.
Long starred in the psychological thriller Fatal Affair in 2020, about a lawyer, Ellie, and her husband, Marcus, who were involved in a car accident and had to recover for a long time. Long also agreed to appear on ABC’s Let the World See in 2021, where she read excerpts from Mamie Till-memoir Mobley’s Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America. The book detailed Till-fight Mobley’s for justice after her son, Emmett Till, was lynched in Money, Mississippi in 1955 for allegedly looking at white women when he was 14 years old.
Nia Long, the mother of two sons, Massai Zhivago Dorsey II and Kez Sunday Udoka, has worked on Yolanda Adams’ This Too Shall Pass music video and co-directed Ashanti’s Baby music video. She is still acting, directing, producing, and volunteering at the Sterling Children’s Home in St. Philip, Barbados.