tv Tavis Smiley PBS November 8, 2013 12:00am-12:30am EST
tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight, a conversation with actress nia long about a career that will stand the test of time. she is starring in a sequel called "the best man holiday." a group of friends reunite after years of being separated. we are glad you have joined us. coming up, right now.
>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: nia long was one of the reasons the best man was a huge hit in 1999. working years later, the sequel is finally here. it reunites all the actors from the first film. timehis sequel, the long- friends a strange for nearly 15 years come together for a long holiday weekend where they discover how easy it is for
rivalries and romances to be reignited. ooh. take a look at the clip from "best man holiday." >> i have to do they'll on dinner tonight. lex i get it. you could have called or e- mailed. it you could have sent the text. >> the damnedest thing. and none of my devices were working so i figured i should deliver the messages myself. i changed my flight so i can come to you -- come with you. if it is important to you, it is important to me. >> do you want me to wait outside? >> don't worry about it, i have to go anyway. i will talk to you later. i will see you this weekend. >> i hope so. to ski in vermont with my devices. >> i hate you so much.
>> was that you kissing a white man? >> it was not my first white man. i know, but just -- >> i like all flavors, tavis. tavis: we know one piece of the story line here. what is your character doing 15 years later? segment producer in the first film and now she is sort of running the network. she is doing her thing as a producer. taking her time, focused on her career. she put love and relationship on the side burner to be this amazing producer. she made it and is realizing through the story -- i don't went to give too much away, but she sees that she truly is recognizing that there is power in being vulnerable and finding love. finding a partner.
career isn't everything. that is something a lot of women struggle with. tavis: was there something or some things that you needed to see to come back to this? i am just a hollywood fan. sometimes people do stuff a second or third or fourth time and i wish they would stop after the first time. what did you need to see in this script to make you want to come back and do it again? thing was that the entire cast supported the idea of doing a sequel. that was it for me. i don't think any of us would've really done it if we had not been part of it. all friends and we have grown our careers. terrence howard as a grandfather. life has changed. it was an interesting notion to see what would happen if you put
these group of friends together 17 or 18 years later. think the story is going to be what anyone expects. we love you, white guys. love you, guys obviously. you are right about the fact that the characters lives have changed. are there parallels in terms of how the lives have changed over the years? vast distinctions were differences. thing is before i became a mom, it is all about my career. how many films can i do? how many places can i travel?
how many planes can i get on and feel great? my priorities are a little different now. they are about creating balance that weme, making sure have the time to do the things that i want to do with my career and to continue to make movies. and also to think about the next phase, which is writing and producing and directing. more than ever, it is something that i am really passionate about. tavis: i want to get to the writing and producing and directing in just a second. the last time we saw each other talking over each other] in that anymore. that is their fault. tavis: you just broke news, i
did not do that. >> here is the thing. they asked me to do one season and they will bring a couple characters every season. i was not signed on to be a permanent extra. tavis: i wanted to see you next season. >> i wanted to be there, too. was dying for them to write the next season. i saw don cheadle. don, you've got to bring tamara back. said, if i bring her back, i will have to kill her. tavis: i was hoping you were going to come back for another season. i hope they call you. hey, call her. doesn't stop me from asking the question i want to ask. over these 15 years since you did the first "best man come ," has your career gone in the
way that you thought it would go? has yours gone the way you wanted it to be 14 years ago when you headed this direction. >> no one has ever asked me that question and i don't think i have thought about it in those terms. my commitment has been to do the things that move me. to understand there are political challenges, to understand that there are things that are so far out of my control. but then i can still aspire to get to where i want to be regardless of if they choose me or not. it took a long time to get to the place where that is a reality. we have to wait to be picked. let me jump in because i am with you now. how do you, or how have you gone
about getting where you want to be without waiting to be chosen? the problem with this business, i can say this and you can't. black actors and actresses, they thet hold, in their head, names of more than two or three people at a time. if you are in the flow, you are in the flow, and if you are not, they will go to the next three. a variety of people can work a variety of roles. >> or until you start asking for the money you deserve. they can ask someone who is "like" whomever. tavis: how have you navigated this journey of getting to where you want to go without having to wait to be chosen? is what i do for work but when i close my doors, my life is my life.
children are everything, i am smart with my money, i have a great partner and supporter. when they don't want me, somebody else does. i close my doors and i'm mommy. that is the greatest thing you can never be. i'm not afraid to say no. it's hard to say no. but i would rather make the adjustment so i can always say no if it is not right for me. there is a lot of security in that. i just take one moment at a time. honestly, i meditate, pray, and keep myself insulated. there is the inner circle. there is the outer circle. i feel like the rest just comes.
you have to trust that whatever is for you is for you. tavis: you have to trust the process. you don't control most of it anyway. peace and there is tranquility when you come home and close the door that only your family and loved ones can bring. you are also an artist. those choices that you would like to be making don't come your way artistically, how do you go about expressing yourself? of pen andt of piece paper and some crayons and i draw. [laughter] listen. the truth of it is this. there are moments when i am frustrated and moments when i am disappointed. how come i did not know about that? , that is such say
a great opportunity. but i am never angry because i just hernd i say it is turn. thing, the most amazing part of all of this is that i am still here. such a young age, i am only 25. i reinvented myself. [laughter] the many myself and characters and i look forward to this next phase of my career. tribe to come with me. i don't have any regrets. i have a few, but i don't have anything that made me feel like i blew it on that one. tavis: you don't have to get deeper than you want to get.
nia does what she wants to. >> everyone knows that about me. tavis: we all have some regrets. we are not divine, we make mistakes and have regrets. when you have regrets, are they down?s about roles turned >> i played opposite jude law and i really thought more people would support that film and perhaps maybe that would be the film that would break the glass ceiling for me. it did not happen. me, it was like, i am only one of two black people in the film and you think that it takes that to break the glass ceiling.
timing,e project, the the director. what you will and project onto that screen. when all of those things come in this perfect package, you know you have taken it to the next level. i am not sitting here going that i should have more than what i , or why am i not making millions of dollars. my past is my past. whenever i talk about heavy d, it makes you want to tear up. i miss him so much and one day , it is not a race, it is a marathon. and you will run forever. you will be in the race forever.
i can't believe i am not tearing up right now. the day after i gave birth to my the same hospital, one floor down. everyone is in my hospital room. they are excited. i get the call that he passed away. he was such an important person in my life and still is. i think about him all the time. when he was nominated for his first grammy, i was a young actress on a soap opera and he said to me, will you be my date? we were best friends for that big chunk of life.
he would always say to me, listen, it is not a race. it is a marathon and you will have everything you want. see moreike to diversity in the role. everybody has that feeling. i think it is part of a journey you take to not always have what you want. that you get it in stages. that and let me express my own frustration on your behalf and fans of years. that is a very mature and adult way. you are very charitable and generous. of one or two more beloved,
adored, celebrated then you are inside of black america. chunk of the moviegoing public. there is a reason why even when you aren't starring in nothing, you're still on the covers of african-american magazines. black people love nia long. >> thank you, black people. tavis: i'm not saying why people don't, but in your own community, your beloved. there is a frustration that we don't get to see you more. you ought to be out there. not name names, but there are people less gifted, less talented, and we see more of them than we see you. i am glad you have a mature way of handling this but part of the frustration is that there is not a lot that we as ticket buyers can say or do about that except
support what you are in. we vote with ticket stubs. managemente is anger about nia long. long soliloquy that leads to the question, how do you navigate seeing folk who are less talented? judgment every actor has to make. i know that there have got to be times where you're looking at somebody like, wow. "wow" a lot.d i have. but i don't think i've ever looked at anyone else's career and said, that should have been
me. i'm sothink about -- proud of kerry washington with scandal. all of us were seen for that show. pregnant know i was until two weeks later. that would not have worked out well for me. it was her moment and she is doing an amazing job. me, did yousaid to audition for that? those are my fans that absolutely love me. to walk aroundnt being that angry black chick that is upset somebody else got a job. tavis: how do you go about making choices? "alfie." was instructive,
informative, and insightful about the way you view your career. every actor wants to break through that ceiling. >> white actors, too. that: everybody wants moment that is going to take them to the next level. not that you're doing bad and you have been around a long time and are still working. navigate, daily, hoping and praying for that moment when by your own admission you are going to break through. >> that is an internal thing. i am not waiting for the world to validate that. i have grown as a woman, as a partner, as an artist. i don't feel like i am lacking in any way. i wishwhole and full and i had a different answer. but that is my honest answer. me -- ir part of it for
don't really feel the need to rush through. the great thing about being an actor is you can be an actor for the rest of your life. i might not win my academy award until i am 70, but i am going to win. i am going to get there. i'm not going to worry about if it will ever happen, because it will. people met me when i was 16 years old. that is when i started in this business. i turn 43 in nine days. that is a long time. i have lived my life in front of the camera. the times you saw me step away was because there were things in my life that were more important. i never wanted to be this age and not have children.
i never wanted to not have a family. it was always part of my plan. can have everything, but not at the same time. "best let's go back to man holiday." what is the joy of being reunited with an all-star cast of black folks in a movie that andull of fun and frolic e some insights as well. what is it like being on the set when all of that energy is coming at you? there were nights when we felt like we were college dorm buddies. the girls were constantly counting calories. constantly. what is in that chocolate chip cookie? the girls were constantly counting calories. the boys in the girls would have in-depth conversations about relationships and the
differences between men and women. except everybody terrance is married. taye is married. morris and eddie and harris is married. none of the girls are married, which i find to be very interesting. i am probably the closest to marriage. and the a lot of debate biggest debate was, can a black man who is successful and famous actually handle a black woman who is equal to him? tavis: oh, my. >> they thought we were a bunch of loud mouth and complaining women but they are the same way about certain things. tavis: that is a movie in it of itself. i have to get out of here in two minutes. the writing, directing, how
serious are you about that? >> i have the rights to my dear friend and wolf who was a professional boxer. it is a very long story on how we met, but the bottom line is that this is a coming-of-age in ordert a single mom to save her children had to learn how to box. it is her journey from the times she was 18. they have featured her on hbo and i saw the story. you're going to love this story, nia. i found her and called her and got the rights. tavis: you will star? >> i will direct. i don't want to be in a boxing ring. thank you. to just celebrate
the beauty of these covers that our friends at ebony -- all the sisters from "best man holiday." there are the brothers. film.ill be a huge i think it will open big and you will take it from there. inill congratulate you advance on success of the film. >> i hope you come to the premiere. tavis: i will see you there. thanks for watching and as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with graham nash about his memoir "wild tales." that is next time, we will see you then.