Texas Tech University

Actress, Mentor Nia Long: Everything Starts with a Plan

K'Leigh Sims

April 22, 2015

The Hollywood leading lady will speak about setting goals, creating a plan of action and achieving dreams at the 13th Annual Mentor Tech Banquet.


Well known actress and mentor Nia Long will visit Texas Tech University Friday (April 24) for the 13th Annual Mentor Tech Banquet to speak to the campus community about setting goals, creating a plan of action and achieving dreams.

Long, born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in south central Los Angeles, didn't come from a wealthy family and was raised by a single mother. She said everything she has achieved she has worked really hard for and didn't let limits stop her from doing what she wanted to do. She said no matter what people's situations might be, they can reach every goal they set for themselves, big or small.

“I think everything starts with a plan,” she said. “When it comes to setting your goals, you can be as creative or outlandish as you want. If you're going to dream, dream big. Once you have your goals, you must figure out what your course of action is. When your plan is established, the next step is achieving that goal and it's all hard work.”

Coming into the Hollywood world with no connections, Long worked hard to become the actress she is today. Since the late 1980s, she has appeared in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Boyz N the Hood,” “Big Momma's House,” “Are We There Yet?” “Are We Done Yet?” “The Best Man Holiday” and “The Single Moms Club.”

She is a three-time NAACP award winner, winning twice for her role as Officer Sasha Monroe on NBC's crime drama “Third Watch” as an outstanding actress in a drama series. In 2013, she was brought to the small screen alongside Golden Globe winner Don Cheadle to appear in Showtime's hit comedy “House of Lies,” which garnered an NAACP nomination for best supporting actress in a comedy series.

Although she has had great success in her career, Long says it's the losses that made her learn about herself and made the successes that much sweeter.

“There are ups, downs, challenges, wins and losses and that's a part of life,” she said. “I think losing is really when you learn the lessons and learn about yourself. When you have disappointments and failures, that's when your faith and spirituality kicks in, but it's also a great opportunity to learn lessons and come out a better person on the other side of it.”

Nia Long
Nia Long

She also believes when people achieve their goals, they must help others do the same.

“If we can give back to one another as citizens, coming from a place with love and compassion, then we can build a better and stronger community,” she said.

In addition to her Hollywood resume, Long desires to help others. She serves as a mentor for young girls and boys, both nationally and internationally, to help motivate and encourage them to do the things they dream. She has mentored kids in Trinidad, Barbados, Grenada, London and the United States. In 2011, she worked with BET's Black Girls Rock! mentorship program where she helped empower young girls ages 12-17 and reinforced self-esteem and self-worth in women of color by changing their outlook on life.

“It is always my pleasure to give back,” she said. “I get a lot of joy from the excitement and the connections made between me and others. It's like a family. They know I'm looking out for them, and I know they are watching and supporting me and what I do. If I can be the conduit between where these kids are and where they want to be, then I'm happy to do that.”

There is one piece of advice she tells each person she mentors:

“The overall message I share with my own children and others is you need to have self-love, acceptance and forgiveness,” she said. “If someone let you down or disappointed you and you carry that throughout your life, it turns into anger and it manifests into some sort of health issue. We don't realize what all our bodies hold. So having that self-love and being able to look into the mirror and say, ‘I love who I am,' not just because of what I look like, but because of what my heart holds, if you tell yourself that you have a beautiful heart and mind, you'll be surprised at how gorgeous you look in the mirror.

“Everything starts and ends with love.”

Changing the way people view things in the world today creates a strong foundation of community, she said. Once the prejudices are set aside, people can get back to being a support to one another and have more room to succeed.

That is why she chose to visit Texas Tech and be the keynote speaker for the Mentor Tech's annual banquet.

“I think it's amazing what Mentor Tech is doing,” she said. “It's a place where students can come and feel safe, supported, not judged, a place where they know they are being heard, where they are given the proper tools to succeed, where their questions are being answered and a place where they are not expected to know certain things due to their age. Everyone needs a home that nurtures their mind and soul. I think what Mentor Tech is doing is exceptional.”

Nia Long

She looks forward to visiting Lubbock because it gives her a chance to make real connections with people she hasn't met before.

“It's a two-way gift,” she said. “I get just as much out of this as I give. It allows me to connect with real people who are inspired by what I do, but it also gives me a chance to see how much I've grown. It helps me make sure I'm walking the walk and talking the talk.”

With almost a 30-year career behind her, Long says she has only achieved about 30 percent of the things she wants to do.

She just finished a pilot with Mike Epps and is working on a screenplay. She enjoys interior decorating, health and wellness and being a mom who spends her Sundays at the baseball field with her boys, Massai and Kez.

“My journey still continues even though I am at a much greater position than I was as a young girl,” she said.

For more information about Nia Long or the annual banquet, visit the Mentor Tech website.