Pandora’s Box: Mashonda Interviews Nia Long

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Tray Hova / September 15, 2010

You can call me a womanʼs, woman, thatʼs precisely what I am. I understand the language that our eyeʼs speak, the tones of our voices, the intensity in our walk. I appreciate our outer beauty, but I adore our inner strength.

Nia Long — A Love Jones with a heart of gold
  The first time I visioned Nia Long was while watching her 1991, break-out role as Brandi in “Boys in the Hood.” What I remember most clearly about her was the sway in her hips, the confidence in her strut, the sincerity in her eyes. Iʼve appreciated her artistry ever since then. Born in Brooklyn, for nearly 25 years, Nia has established herself as a serious actress/director. Ms. Long has received three NAACP awards, along with a 2001 Image Award and Blockbuster Award Nomination. 

Most recently, I had the privilege to meet Nia. That walk, those eyes, she still had it, but stronger than ever. We were both attending the Second Annual Ween (Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network) Awards. That evening she received the most prestigious award of the night, The 2010 Womenʼs Empowerment Award…

Mashonda: The name Nia means Purpose in Swahili, what do you feel your purpose is, here on earth? 
Nia Long: My purpose is constantly changing as I grow. I do believe the heart of my purpose is to give to the world through my art. I love what I do. Every project I do has an everlasting voice, which I hope inspires someone somewhere. 

I know you are West Indian—we both have parents from Barbados—do you feel that growing up in a West Indian home differs from growing up anywhere else? 
I will always be an island girl. The food, the music, the people are beautiful. My grandmother was born in Grenada and raised in Trinidad. She taught me to fear nothing and no one but God. She is a fearless warrior and my hero. I am kind of a hippie in many ways. Open to most things, cultures and non-traditional ideas. Always barefoot and would rather be close to the water than on the red carpet. 

You’re a single mother, what are the most important things a woman can teach her son? 
My son, my love. I try and teach Massai the importance of being accountable and responsible. He is becoming a young man and it’s very important to me that he owns up to his mistakes and takes responsibility for his choices. Having an ego is good, it gives you confidence and swagger but humility is what keeps the ego in check. I teach my son to have a humble heart. A giving heart. 

What was your favorite starring role? Which one of your characters did you relate to the most?