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April 2007
ARE WE DONE YET?: EXCLUSIVE Interview with Nia Long

ARE WE DONE YET?: An EXCLUSIVE Interview with Nia Long
By Niambi Sims

April 2, 2007

For the past decade, Nia Long has captivated audiences with her prolific film career. She captured our attention in ÒBoys N the HoodÓ and ÒFridayÓ and sizzled on screen with Larenz Tate in ÒLove JonesÓ and Taye Diggs in ÒThe Best ManÓ. Just when we thought we had her pegged as a serious dramatic actress, she flexed her comedic skills in ÒBig MommaÕs HouseÓ alongside Martin Lawrence. In ÒAre Done Yet?Ó, the sequel to the blockbuster ÒAre We There Yet?Ó, Long plays Suzanne Persons a loving newlywed dedicated to her family and husband (Ice Cube). The Persons decide to purchase a house in the suburbs to accommodate their growing family. They soon realize that they have purchased more than they bargained for as their dream house rapidly becomes a hilarious nightmare. In speaking exclusively with blackfilm.comÕs Niambi Sims, Long tells how she has evolved from our favorite girl next door into sound and sensible Everywoman.

How was it working with Cube again?

Nia Long: Good! You know Cube is amazing. He has truly evolved into an entrepreneur. He’s an artist but he’s also doing a fantastic job building an empire for himself and diversifying his portfolio as a actor and an artist.

I agree! How is it doing a sequel?

Nia Long: It’s good! It’s good because it’s familiar. There’s a sense of safety and kind of knowingness in terms of what you are getting yourself into which is always comforting. “Are We Done Yet?” was so much fun to work on because I was just a happy mom. I was optimistic, very nurturing with no attitude. It’s interesting what that does to your attitude when you have to play that everyday. I found myself very happy all the time.

Is Suzanne close to your true character?

Nia Long: Yeah. I’m pretty easy going person. I can be intense and I definitely like my “me” time but I’m pretty happy.

I know you’ve done some directing for Yolanda Adams and Ashanti. Will we see more of you as a director?

Nia Long: I don’t know. I’ve been really busy with everything else but its one of those things that if I have some downtime or the opportunity presents itself then I will go for it but the music industry and the film industry have changed a lot and budgets are smaller. You have less time. So, at the moment, I am not a director to make a living. I do it because I love to do it. I think the thing that makes the most sense next is to direct a feature.

Are we going to see a feature from you soon?

Nia Long: I am sure you will eventually. (Laughs)

Anything in the works?

Nia Long: I have a couple things that I am writing.

You write too?

Nia Long: Yeah but I don’t like talking about stuff until it’s like done

Ok. Are there any literary pieces that you would like to see turned into a film?

Nia Long: There are but if I say it and you print it, someone else will be out there trying to do it! (Laughs)

Ok. Fine. Fair enough!

Nia Long: The competition is thick out there. I think I’m more of a doer than a talker. It might take me a little longer but I have my hands in a lot of pots right now.

What are you working on right now?

Nia Long:: I just finished a pilot for ABC that’s untitled at the moment with Michael Vartan and Dylan McDermott and we’ll know if it’s going to get picked up pretty soon. I like to work. In between jobs I get really antsy. I like to be constantly moving and working. It’s good for my spirit. If the job makes sense and works with my career goals then 9 times out of 10 I will do it. But I have to be moved by the piece. I won’t take anything that comes my way. I have turned down quite a bit of stuff too.

What are your career goals/criteria for choosing a project?

Nia Long: My career goals are to constantly grow as an artist and to continue to inspire and to promote positive images for black people. I might not always play the girl that always has it together but if I am playing a character that is damaged, there is still an audience that can relate to that.

Out of all of your leading men, which one is closest embodies the qualities to what you would want in a ideal man?

Nia Long: Will Smith’s sense of humor, Larenze Tate’s sexuality, There’s something very mysterious about Omar Epps that I like. The eccenticness of Terrence Howard. He’s very eccentric and I like it. The dedication to family of Ice Cube. He is really about his family and he keeps them separate. He’s a good guy and a good husband and he really puts them first. That’s admirable

You do a good job keeping your life separate as well how do you manage this?

Nia Long: I just don’t go out.

You don’t go out?

Nia Long: I’ll go out if I’m promoting a project or if I feel like I want to go out and hang but I’m not consistently out at every party or every magazine. I do what’s necessary. I go out but not in the Hollywood scene.

What kind of advice would you give to aspiring actors?

Nia Long: Be Patient with yourself. Make a five year plan because it really does work. Don’t be a trend follower. Be a trendsetter. Never give all of yourself away to anything or anybody, you have to keep a sense of yourself for yourself at all times.

Keys to success….

Nia Long: You can ask for whatever you want as long as you deliver. Its okay cause all they can say is “no” but most of the time when I ask, I get a yes surprisingly!

Who would you like to work with next?

Nia Long: I really want to work with Denzel. There was a time when I was told there’s no way, you just look too young. I think that I’ve matured as a woman and as an actress and I think I would perfect to work opposite him now. I admire his ability to transcend all the stereotypes of who we are as black people. We’ve seen him play the street thug to the highest of the high. He’s just dynamic! I’d also love to work with Meryl Streep.

Is she your role model?

Nia Long: She’s my idol role model whatever! I love her. She brings a sense of rawness to every single character she plays. Her work is seemless. She’s solid. She’s got a husband and a family and she puts those things first. She is my favorite actress and probably one of the best actresses in this business. There’s something very tender about her and warm. I just love that. I met her and she was like “Hi Nia Long” I was like (GASPS) “You know my name?” and she was like “of course. My kids love you.” And that’s because of movies like Are We There Yet and Are we Done Yet. So you never know what audiences that you are reaching. She’s a perfect example of not following trends. She’s just her. She shows up. She’s her. She leaves. She comes back a couple years later when she wants to work and she’s still the same beautiful eloquent woman who has a sense of humor, who’s sexy, beautiful and smart but who also knows how to go away and live life and nurture herself. I think that’s the key. A lot of young women get so anxious and want to be everywhere and be seen and stay hot and be trendy. Really at the end of the day it has nothing to do with the work. Its great to do those things but I think when you are building a career, if you overexpose yourself, people get tired of looking at you so you have to pace yourself.

Is there really such a thing as overexposure as an African American actress?

Nia Long: I don’t think it’s a black thing I think it’s a universal thing. I don’t think it’s with the work. I think its with the priorities, the press, the publicity, the parties and the hanging out at every event. I don’t even know how they do it.

How do you balance you personal life and career?

Nia Long: Most of my day is planning. I have help when I need help. Oddly enough it always works out if you take the time to be organized. It’s really about the planning and making sure all bases are covered.

What’s your pet peeve?

Nia Long: Little white lies. Just be up front! I don’t tolerate liars

Do you have a technique?

Nia Long: I don’t have a technique I just go in there and do it

ARE WE DONE YET? Opens on April 6, 2007


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