Nia Long Opens Up About Being Passed Over For Avatar And Other Films: ‘I Wasn’t Even A Topic Of Discussion’

Fatima Mohammed (Nia Long) in You People
(Image credit: Netflix)

Nia Long has been quite busy as of late, with the Peacock miniseries The Best Man: The Last Chapters premiering to record numbers last December. She followed up that success with the sleeper hit Missing and then Netflix’s You People, which has been dominating on the streaming service. Long is no stranger to success and has reveled in it quite a few times over the course of her lengthy career. That doesn't mean the road has been perfect for her, though. As prominent as she is, there are a few high-profile roles that she didn't land. Recently, Long spoke about not being cast in Charlie’s Angels, and she's now opening up about not having been "a topic of discussion" when it came to films like Avatar.

The actress was candid when discussing moments when she wasn't considered for certain parts. Of course, she has numerous cinematic classics under her belt, like Boyz N the Hood, Friday and Love Jones. But as she explained to The Cut, there are roles that she hasn't been considered for over the years. Avatar seems to be a project she still thinks about and, during her recent chat, she weighed in on having been passed over. The star also share thoughts on the performer who nabbed the role she was eyeing -- Zoe Saldaña:

I’ve felt passed over on things, for sure. There have definitely been moments like, Why wasn’t I considered for that? Like, why wasn’t I considered for Avatar? I think Zoe’s amazing. But I wasn’t even a topic of discussion, you know? A lot of times, to be fair, directors know in their minds who they want. It’s happened to me, and it’s not happened for me. I would love to do a film like Avatar because I’m really a fan and obsessed. I would even do a supporting role in a film like that because it’s so magical and beautiful, and there are so many lessons and a connection to Mother Nature, humanity, and race. I just think it’s fantastical.

Like many Black actresses in Hollywood, Nia Long has dealt with the difficulties of getting roles in Hollywood. It's clear that she's not bitter, though the TV and film veteran just wants the chance to be seen in blockbusters like Avatar. Later in the interview, she was even open to auditioning for the fifth installment (which is features more of Earth) if James Cameron and the studio were to call her. However, at this point in her career, many would probably agree that her name should be on every director’s list like Angela Bassett's and Regina King's would -- if the role is a fit.

Again though, it should be mentioned that the 52-year-old star holds no ill will towards Zoe Saldaña or any of her collaborators. She's totally a fan, and that's what seems to fuel her desire to join Disney's billion-dollar sci-fi franchise.

Nia Long’s candor is nothing new, as the Hollywood star isn’t afraid to speak up about topics like women's pay in Hollywood. Her past sentiments have also echoed those of  stars like Oscar nominee Aunjanue Ellis and EGOT Viola Davis, who's spoken about dealing with beauty standards as a Black actress in the industry. Long has opened up on a range of other topics as well, even speaking up for friend and former Fresh Prince co-star Will Smith following the Oscars slap. Regardless of the roles, she's missed out, Long is a legend, and I'm hopeful that even more big projects (and maybe even Avatar) are heading her way in the future.

You can catch Nia Long in Missing, which is currently in theaters, and check out You People using an active Netflix subscription. In the meantime, look over our schedule of 2023 new movie releases to learn about the upcoming flicks headed to a theater near you.

Adreon Patterson
News Writer

A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).