‘Fresh Prince’ Costar Nia Long Says Will Smith Now ‘Able to Be Human’

USA News

  • Nia Long praised former “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” costar Will Smith in a recent interview. 
  • “He’s had an incredible career, and he’s carried a burden for many years,” Long said.
  • The actor also referenced Smith’s behavior at the Academy Awards in 2022. 

Nia Long has nothing but love for Will Smith. 

The “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” actor praised her former costar for his success and character in a recent interview with Yahoo Entertainment. 

“I will always love him,” said Long, who played Lisa Wilkes on the show, which ran from 1990 to 1996. “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 continued to explain how being a Hollywood celebrity has evolved since the show aired in the 1990s, catapulting Smith to stardom. Being a celebrity today allows a superstar like Smith a little more leeway, she suggested. 

“I don’t think that — at least when we were growing up — there was room to be human,” Long explained. “I think he’s now able to be human.” 

Smith stunned the world when he slapped Chris Rock onstage at the Oscars in 2022, resulting in Smith being banned from the Oscars ceremony and other Academy events for 10 years and ultimately, Smith’s resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. The slap occurred after Rock cracked a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, who has alopecia and sported a shaved head at the event. 

The now-infamous Oscars slap arguably hurt Smith’s career, with several projects, including “Bad Boys 4” and the nature show “Pole to Pole,” reportedly put on hold immediately following the incident. Smith, for his part, eventually apologized through YouTube for his actions. 

While Long didn’t explicitly cite the Oscars slap, she referenced it in a roundabout fashion. 

“We all have our moments in life where we need to reconcile things that we suppress,” Long added. “And I think it’s hard growing up in this business and being front and center every day, all day.”


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