Like most brown girls I first came in sync with the power of Ms. Long via Love Jones. The spell she cast on Darius in that film had me imitating her every move. I thought if I could work that voodoo in life and love it would be no time before I was running through a park at dawn in the fog with my prince charming chasing after me; carefree, and living in love.
But, life proved to be a little more complicated. Nonetheless Nia proved to be the girl who just keeps on giving. In my 20s ( and don’t get me to lying about the exact year ) I read an article in Essence magazine featuring Nia and she changed my perspective on life again. The acting chameleon would continue to surprise me through the years. As she birthed children, re-emerged each decade as an icon in the Black acting world and navigated the minefield of love herself, I followed her and more importantly I learned. Here are 5 lessons I learned from the QUEEN of the ‘girl-next-door’ cliche, Ms. Nia Long.
1. You are not 1/2 the woman you are going to be until you are 30.
This was such vital piece of advice for me as I finished college and gave birth to my first baby in my 20s. Because I was a young mommy, and just because I’m an ambitious woman, I thought that during my second decade of living I was grown. Well, the world didn’t think so and neither did Nia. She made that statement in an Essence article and it released a lot of tension I had about aging. Suddenly I awoke to an entire 3rd dimension where I would have more room and more time to grow. It taught be that life is not linear, but a circular progression. Life is about evolving to be the woman you are meant to be. It’s not about trying to be all that you can be all at one time. So, take I took my time and allowed life to flow.
2. It’s okay to take a break and start over
In the 90s my girl was blowing up. Ms. Long had a plethora of roles and I was in college. As she was making her big leap as a leading lady in films like The Best Man, Soul Food, Stigmata and In Too Deep, I was making my debut on the womanly stage of collegiate education. But just like Ms. Long, around 2000 it was time for a break. We were both pregnant. Me at 19 of course and her a little later in life, but still babies were to be born. Like many of us young brown girls who get stuck with big bellies before the world says it’s time, I thought my life had ended. But, the universe had other plans. And Ms. Nia, well she seems to always have one. It took us seven years, but we got there. As my sistah grew so did I. In ’07 I walked across that college stage and Ms. Long re-emerged on the big screen with Ice Cube in the hit flick Are We There Yet. You see us brown girls can be sure of one thing: What God has for you is for you. It may be delayed, but there is always a path back to it.
3. Comfort is Queen
Yes ladies. One thing I love, love, love about Nia Long is she always looks cute and comfortable. Now, I know we have that occasion when the shoes we thought were comfortable proved to be a pain or, when the skirt we thought was long enough to cover that big ol’ thang unexpectedly meets a summer breeze. But, Ms. Long seemingly does not have those days. Whenever I see her she seems comfortable, but equally stylish. She taught me that what we feel the best in, we usually look the best in.
4. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
I am a journalist by trade. I once interviewed Ms. Long as she stomped the campaign trail for President Obama during his ’08 bid for presidency, which he won. She talked about the importance of brown girls getting involved in the political process. She inspired me to always be down for a cause. Growing up, my mom was constantly saying that we needed to stand-up for the things we believed in. But life has a way of helping us forget our power. Black women were the first women on this Earth to give birth. That means something. In fact, it means everything. We have been uniquely called to advocate on behalf of the human womb. Ms. Long taught me that EVERY black woman should have a cause. Mines is motherhood.
5. Our Brown is Oh, So Beautiful!
Lastly and on a lighter note, this woman has flawless skin. And not just the substance, but the content. Nia was the first actress that wore her skin with so much pride, dignity and sex appeal. (At least for me and in my generation) I mean we had Halle, but Nia is from around our way. Halle was more like the cheerleader, and Nia is like the chic who hangs in your crew. Even today, I can still relate to Nia the way I related to her in high school, just in a more mature fashion. Nia inspired me to wear my golden, around-the-way girl covering as a badge of honor. She also taught me that us girls from the ghetto can be just as high-fashion, just as worthy and just as pretty as girls from anywhere else. Our brown is sassy, it’s tenacious, it’s intelligent, complicated and beautiful!