Beloved actress Nia Long sat down with The Cut for their latest cover story. The newly-single star opened up a bit about her recent split from her longtime partner, family life, and being overlooked for roles in Hollywood. Surprisingly, Long mentioned not even being in the conversation for the recent Avatar sequel The Way of Water, starring Zoe Saldana.
“I’ve felt passed over on things, for sure,” the You People and The Best Man actress expressed. “There have definitely been moments like, ‘Why wasn’t I considered for that?’ Like, ‘why wasn’t I considered for Avatar?’ I think Zoe’s amazing. But I wasn’t even a topic of discussion, you know?”
Speaking about how Hollywood works at times, she added: “A lot of times, to be fair, directors know in their minds who they want. It’s happened to me, and it’s not happened for me. I would love to do a film like Avatar because I’m really a fan and obsessed. I would even do a supporting role in a film like that because it’s so magical and beautiful, and there are so many lessons and a connection to Mother Nature, humanity, and race. I just think it’s fantastical.”
Per Deadline, Avatar: The Way of Water is currently trailing behind Titanic 3D with over $2,213.5 billion in box office sales — less than $4,000,000 away from beating out the latter. Clearly, Avatar would’ve been a huge win for either Saldana or Long as the lead character, Neytiri.
Having already cemented her footprint in Black Hollywood with films like Soul Food, Big Momma’s House, and Are We There Yet?, there’s no harm in the 52-year-old wanting bigger roles outside of what we’ve seen her do already. She’s recently starred in the aforementioned Netflix film You People starring Lauren London, Jonah Hill, and Eddie Murphy, and the box office movie The Missing — which Long says made her “insecure” about starring in.
“The Missing was not easy because it was so technical,” she said. “I didn’t understand where the cameras were, so every cinematic rule I know to be true didn’t apply. But I loved it because actors, after a while, come with our bag of tricks, and you rely on those things. I had to feel a little insecure in this film, which worked for the story line.”
In contrast, working on You People with Murphy was “an accomplishment” for her.
“When he comes on set, you put your shoulders back and just get ready,” Long said about finally working with an “icon” and “one of our heroes.” She added, “He’s the best to ever do it. That was such a big cast that you do the work and keep moving. You’re not wasting a lot of time.”
Further in her cover, Long touched on still being sensitive about speaking on her recent breakup with Ime Udoka, but loving how people rallied around her.
“That saved my life,” she said about the support she’s received. “It saved my mental well-being because I felt uplifted by the community in a way that felt like my family was checking in and making sure I was okay. And that, I appreciated.”
She added, “I have that for people like Beyoncé. I look at her, and I’m so proud of her because I know how difficult it is to sustain and manage everything she has in her life. My life is probably a smaller version of that. Black women that are dynamic and famous and there to inspire are also required to be exceptional, and sometimes I just get tired of being strong. That’s my biggest thing: I don’t want to have to be strong. I would like to just have an experience that’s pleasant.”
Read more of Nia Long’s cover story with The Cut here.