Named for one of the holy days of Kwanza, "Nia" mean "life purpose" and is represented by lightning. The belief is that we all have a responsibility to ourselves to develop our potential and use the gifts that we have been given. In the case of Nia Long, that would be her natural gift for acting.

Nia was born October 30th, 1970 in Brooklyn, New York. She developed an interest in acting at an early age, and got instruction from Betty Bridges, the mother of former child star Todd Bridges (Different Strokes). Nia made her big screen debut alongside a stellar cast of young black talents in John Singleton's debut effort, Boyz N the Hood. The film would earn Singleton two Oscar nominations, and help launch the acting careers of Nia, Cuba Gooding Jr., and rapper Ice Cube. Previously, Nia had learned the ropes on the daytime soap opera, Guiding Light.

Nia followed up Boyz N the Hood with a comedic turn in Ted Danson's Made in America, proving that she was adept at both drama and comedy. After a two year stint on Will Smith's The Fresh Prince of Bel Air as the woman who steals Will's heart and almost marries him, she has since moved on to more prominent projects. Hardly a black ensemble piece has gone by in which Nia Long was not an important figure.

From Friday to the sleeper hit Soul Food, Long has proved herself a talented screen entity. True to form, she recently wrapped work on Best Man, which brings together an impressive cast of young talent who star as old pals brought back together by the marriage of a friend.

The Internet Movie Database