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Why Nia Long Once Said Studio Execs Didn't Necessarily See Will Smith And Denzel Washington As Black

Shadow&Act logo Shadow&Act 9/24/2022 Jordan Simon
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Known for her roles in films such as Love Jones and The Best Man, Nia Long has been extremely outspoken about Black representation in Hollywood.

In a 2012 interview with Houston Style movie, Long reflected on certains films she’d like to see Hollywood greenlit more of.

“It would certainly would be great to see more films featuring the black family and showing that we are capable of having that unit strong and present and beautiful, because that’s so much of who we really are. For me, that’s missing sometimes when I watch films,” Long once said in the interview.

The actress, who is also known for her roles in Boyz n the Hood and Soul Food, theorized that studio executives may not necessarily see Will Smith and Denzel Washington as Black.

“But since Denzel and Will are superstars, studio execs don’t necessarily see them as black. They see them as superstars. I suspect they pair them with a white or a Latina star because that takes the pressure off their having to market the movie as a black film, which in my opinion is completely ridiculous.”

Long previously starred alongside Smith as Lisa, his love interest, in the 90s’ classic TV show 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.'

During the interview, Long reflected on how the film and television industry still has a long way to go in terms of the representation of Black people and the Black family onscreen.

 “But we still have a lot of growing and maturing to do in terms of how we view black people, the black family and black filmmaking, because we shouldn’t be narrowly pigeonholed. We are not just one thing. We have so many different voices and experiences,” she continued.

“And on the flip side, there are black men who are madly in love with white women. God bless them, if that’s what works for them. I just hope that we can strike a balance that portrays black folks and the black family in a light that’s not extreme. Those are the types of characters that I find myself attracted to.”

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