Her name Nitara comes from one of the seven days of Kwanzaa
and means life purpose. Nia Long was born to Trinidadian
parents, Doc and Talita Long; They divorced when Nia was two
years old. Nia and her mother moved to Iowa City, Iowa, where
her mother studied fine arts, and then to a lower-middle-class
South Los Angeles neighborhood when Nia was seven. She attended
Catholic school and studied ballet, tap, jazz, gymnastics,
guitar and acting. Due to the lack of employment opportunities
in the Arts in Los Angeles when Nia and Talita first arrived
there, Talita took various low-paying jobs, despite having two
master's degrees, that resulted in financial struggle for them.
Nia's motivation to be successful was driven by her desire to
help ease her mother's financial burden.
For 15 years, Nia was instructed by acting coach Betty Bridges, better known as the mother of Diff'rent Strokes child star Todd Bridges. Her first notable role was a three-year stint as Kathryn "Kat" Speakes on the soap opera Guiding Light (1991-1994). During that time, she appeared in movies such as Boyz N the Hood, Friday, and Made in America. From 1994 to 1995, Nia Long played Will Smith's love interest on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Since then, Long has appeared in leading roles in films such as Soul Food, Boiler Room, and Big Momma's House. In 2003, she joined the cast of the drama Third Watch where she played Officer Sasha Monroe until the series ended in 2005. She has currently picked up a recurring role on Everwood as Cassie, daughter of Irv Harper.
Nia Long and actor Massai Z. Dorsey have a son, Massai Zhivago Dorsey II, born on November 26th, 2000. They were to marry in June 2001, but ended their relationship before then.
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