Nia Long Wants Us To “Change Our Attitude” About Money

Nia Long wants us to get serious about money. The actress, whose career was partially driven by the desire to assist her family, has intentionally laid the foundation for generational wealth through investing and forward-thinking decisions.

“I think we have to change our attitude and our thoughts as it relates to money. And I think for most of us, especially Black people, we’ve looked at money as a thing we needed to do or make to pay bills,” the 53-year-old actress detailed to VIBE on Thursday afternoon (June 13) in Miami at the 2024 American Black Film Festival.

She continued to explain, “If we change our thoughts surrounding money, it’s more of a building block to wealth.” The discussion continued as the Fatal Affair star joined Jack Howard, Head of Money Wellness at Ally Financial for a live conversation on money and mindfulness.

Kevin Martin Photo.

As an eager, yet intimate audience filed into the New World Center Performance Hall welcoming Long with thunderous applause, she cozied into the spotlight. Without holding back, the veteran talent walked listeners through her life, detailing her upbringing and life choices. With a warming vulnerability, Long explained how various experiences from her mother using food stamps to buy groceries to not being able to afford college, shaped her spending and saving habits.

“When I look back on my life and how it all started…There was never enough money. My mother had two masters and there was never enough money. Money became a symbol of freedom, right? But what I realize now that I’ve trusted the process, I’ve trusted the journey, is that I’m not governed by the money. I get to choose what my freedom looks like,” detailed the Brooklyn native.

“That was my driving force. My motivation to be an actress was to help. Like okay, we got to get rich, we need some money up in here,” she continued with laughter.

Jack Howard and Nia Long

Jack Howard and Nia Long attend Money and Mindfulness: A Conversation With Nia Long during the 2024 American Black Film Festival at New World Center on June 13, 2024 in Miami Beach, Florida.

Alekandra London/Getty Images

That tenacity instilled in the leading lady worked in her favor, as she not only found fame and success as an actress at a young age, but has maintained relevance through decades of industry shifts.

“I know how hard I work. I worked my a** off. I swear. Nothing is handed to me. There was no trust fund. There was no rich daddy, baby daddy, none of that. It is the force of my ancestors that has given me the audacity to work this hard and to expect to have a beautiful life. And I think if you are thinking less than, you’ll always have less than,” Long proclaimed.

Her abundance mindset resulted in decisions that have allowed her the freedom to put her son through college at New York University debt-free, invest in property and luxury items, and only take on jobs that she believes in wholeheartedly.

Jack Howard and Nia Long

Kevin Martin Photo.

The loudest message echoed from Long in the nearly hour-long conversation was one of hope and encouragement for Black people, particularly Black women, to forge their own path to fiscal freedom, whatever it may look like personally.

“Having whatever I want. Going wherever I want. Traveling. Seeing the world. Freedom. Having pieces of jewelry that I think, ‘When my son gets married, this will be for his wife or my first granddaughter.’ Having heirlooms. Doing things that white people do. We can do these things. Y’all laughing, but I’m serious. This is the same person who started saving for her kids’ college before they were born,” she exclaimed as her own definition of financial wellness.

“You have to be a part of the conversation.”