Nia Long Reveals Why She Really Wasn't in Drew Barrymore's 'Charlie's Angels' Movie

Nia Long reflected on some of her most famous gigs in a new interview with Yahoo Entertainment, including one that never came to pass. Fresh off the heels of Peacock's The Best Man: The Final Chapters and the upcoming projects, Netflix's You People and Missing, Long, 52, busted the myth that she passed up 2000's Charlie's Angels for a role in Big Momma's House with Martin Lawrence. "That is the biggest fattest lie," she told Yahoo. "Charlie's Angels did not want me because they said I looked too sophisticated and too old next to Drew Barrymore… But listen, I thought Lucy Liu was great in that role. When I went back and looked at it, I was like, 'Whoa, she's really doing some stunts.' I don't know if I was quite ready for that. I don't, you can't do everything, and every opportunity isn't for you." She added, "And as much as it would've been fun to play that character, I think Big Momma's House was probably more fun for me. And working with Martin Lawrence, another genius comedian who I have so much respect for… You know, the turnover [in this industry] is so frequent that we forget about the guys that really just came and allowed Black people to have success in television." 

"Do you know how many people worked because of Martin Lawrence? Do you know how many people worked because of Tichina Arnold? Just that whole group on [Martin]. Tisha Campbell is a legend. When you go back and you watch Tisha Campbell in School Daze, I was mesmerized by her growing up, her dancing, her singing. She's a triple threat. She does it all. Like these are the women that I admired, and we're the same age, but they were the ones that kind of got their breaks before I got my breaks. And so I look at them, and I just go, 'Wow, they need to be celebrated more.'" As well as discussing her role in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (a one-time appearance as Claudia in 1991 and recurring role as Will Smith's girlfriend Lisa from 1994 to 1995), Long also discussed her feelings for Smith after the actor shockingly attacked Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars.

"… I just remember that Will was this energetic, goofy, funny guy that was obsessed with playing golf and sneakers. And he was just the happiest person. He was like Disneyland. Will Smith was like Disneyland during The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. And I love him, and I will always love him." The Love Jones actress suggested that Smith's naturally sunny disposition crumbled under the constant pressure of working as a Hollywood star. "He's had an incredible career and he's carried a burden for many years to try to represent what perfection looks like or achievement looks like," Long said. "And I don't think that, at least when we were growing up, there was room to be human. And I think he's now able to be human, and I'm just thankful and grateful for that moment in my career because it taught me a lot about comedy." She continued, "Sometimes I'm like, 'Can you stop being so damn happy?' You cannot be this happy. But he really is. He's a joyous person. But I think we all have our moments in life where we have to reconcile things that maybe we suppress."