Nia Talita Long is one of them precious women of the culture, 50, but regal; a goddess amoungst gods, and unapologetic about it. She has had the community enamored with her presence since emerging on our screens in Boyz N the Hood and Fresh Prince of Bel Air thirty years ago. 30!
Today, she opts for a more lowkey lifestyle, sitting in the driver's seat of her career, and accepting all of the cultural praise that makes her a legend within her own right. She even recently addressed the difference of the industry when she was at the height of her career, and now, praising those who have stood on her shoulders to breakout in Hollywood.
"I was lucky enough to start acting and really having unique opportunities in a time — it was the '90s — where Black everything beautiful, proud, loud, and in your face was undeniable. When I started in the business, most of the films that I worked on were Black films. The crew was Black, the director was Black, the writer was Black. Because that was my first experience, I thought that was the norm — that the next set that I went to was going to be Black, Black, Black, but I realized it wasn't."
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"Oftentimes there was a Black director, Black actors, and the entire crew would be white, which I don't really care — if you're good at your job, you should have the job. But what bothers me is the opportunities weren't always offered to Black people. You'd walk into the hair and makeup trailer, and there was no one there to service you, to understand your hair and makeup needs. And then you were labeled difficult if you said, 'No, I'm not getting in front of the camera looking like this because I could do it better myself."
And for years, she was unfairly labeled as difficult for just this, an experience Black women know all too well. She told TV One:
"When I started working, I was in constant competition with...mostly it was me and Jada [Pinkett-Smith]. It was like, 'oh, do you want the brown skin spicy girl, or do you want that light skin spicy girl?' And if you look at the history of film during that time, you will see how we were...divided."
Which is absolutely true, and even stands true today, although not as tolerated. And ironically, Nia beat out Jada to play the love interest of Will Smith for her character, Lisa on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
"It's a blessing and a curse because here's what I do know: Nia Long knows her light. Nia Long knows her makeup. Nia Long knows her hair. And you probably can't talk me into something else unless you show me. If you want to call that difficult then...sorry."
Girlllllll, you better be unapologetic with these FACTS, sis! The Love Jones star has now taken the time to praise those who are able to push diversity forward, in a way that she says her or Jada simply couldn't do at the time.
"[The new generation is] demanding diversity in a way that my generation really couldn't. We would ask, but it wasn't always granted. Now there is an awareness and there's an 'I'm not taking no for an answer' attitude, which is really amazing. I'm really proud of the next group of leaders in this industry that are putting their foot down and saying, 'No, we deserve to have the same experience as the next white actress.'"
Oh, Nia. Please remain the pillar that you are. We need you, queen!
Watch the clip discussing her addressing her being labeled as 'difficult' below:
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Featured image by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
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In xoNecole's series Dope Abodes, we tour the living spaces of millennial women, where they dwell, how they live, and the things they choose to adorn and share their spaces with.
Annisa LiMara has called this space her home for two years. Her Atlanta sanctuary, which she aimed to give the look and feel of something you'd see in the glossy pages of Architectural Digest, embodies her vision of "stunning, yet functional and cozy."
"My home is a reflection of my brand, The Creative Peach Studios, and I am the 'Creative Peach,'" Annisa explains. "It was so easy to reflect who I am and my personal story in my space. When you walk into my home, you know that it is Annisa’s home. I’m so proud of that. So grateful."
On the journey to becoming a homeowner, Annisa looks back on her experience as a "rough one," detailing that she officially started house hunting in March 2020. It had become so expensive to rent, and the 30-something lifestyle influencer decided she would rather invest the money she spent renting into owning a home. However, nine days into house hunting, her search was put on hold for a year. The following year, in 2021, the process of finding the right home and going under contract took a total of four months.
"The resell route didn’t work out, so my realtor suggested a new construction home, which turned out to be the better option," she tells xoNecole of her experience. "Although it requires more patience, it turned out to be a much easier process and a lot easier to maintain since it’s brand new."
As it turns out, the open floor plan three-bedroom two-and-half-bath would prove to be a blank canvas for Annisa to flex her creativity and design skills.
As a new construction, she watched the townhome get built from the ground up, and due to the "cookie-cutter" nature of new builds, Annisa knew immediately that she would change everything about it. The best part about it? All of her updates were cosmetic, so transformation could occur without having to do major renovations to achieve the look and feel she desired.
"The first things I updated were all the lighting, adding built-ins around my fireplace, and installing wallpaper in my bedroom, office, and dining room! I also had board and batten installed in the upstairs loft to make a statement and the kitchen island," Annisa details.
"Lastly, we painted the loft a soft blush pink, the kitchen island is a gorgeous terracotta, and added contrast with black on the doors, fireplace, and stairwell banisters."
In total, she spent $15K in renovations (plus the cost of furniture and decor). And although she says the second level of her home is a "work-in-progress," two years in, she considers the transformation nearly done.
Annisa defines her decor style as "organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho," and with thoughtfully placed touches like plants, warm tones, and organic textures, her perspective can be felt throughout. "I found my point of view as a designer in my work and as I worked on my home, so it all came together organically based on what I was naturally drawn to."
"The organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho' is definitely my signature style. You’ll always see greenery, warm tones, brass, and rattan or wicker in just about every room. My color story is based on my brand [The Creative Peach Studios] colors: blush pink, ivory, olive and sage green, terracotta, and nudes," she adds.
It was her brand colors that would be the jumping-off point for her approach to decorating and styling her space. That, and a picture she had of what would become her sofa from Albany Park. She recalled her decor decisions, "It was their olive Park Sectional Sofa, and I knew instantly I wanted it, and it aligned with my brand colors naturally, so it was a no-brainer."
By drawing inspiration from Pinterest, favorite design brands like CB2, Arhaus, and Souk Bohemian, and through her work, Annisa allowed herself to be guided by her signature style as well as her instincts when making decor and color choices for her own home. "Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason; it just feels right."
Some of the aspects of her home that she regards as her favorites include her bedroom and its little nook where her bed is positioned, the open upstairs loft, and the open concept because "it really allows you to see all of the details I put into the design all at once." Another of her favorite finds is a purchase she copped from the thrift store years ago.
"I have this little brown and gold chair that I picked up for $6 at a thrift store in Jersey six years ago. I couldn’t afford much in my little studio, but the chair was beautiful and unlike anything I had ever seen."
In addition to accent walls featuring blush pink and terracotta tones throughout the space, her gallery wall is another element that immediately draws the eye of any guest who enters. Annisa recalled a fond memory of a fine art piece she purchased from a Black woman artist when she first moved to Atlanta that she now prominently features in her living room. "It was a Black villager from her travels in Africa, and I fell in love with it because it felt like an ancestor I never met. I later found out that she was the sister of one of my very first design clients two years later," she shares. "Talk about a full-circle moment!"
Cultivating a space takes time and patience, and that is a sentiment Annisa echoes when advising people who are looking to infuse more of themselves into their own dope abodes through design. "It is not a race, and you’ll spend more money if you rush into designing without really being intentional about the vision for your space," Annisa concludes. "You just need creativity and patience to do it! And most of all, make sure you feel like it’s an oasis for you!"
For more of Annisa, follow her on Instagram @annisalimara.
Tour Interior Designer Annisa LiMara's Modern Meets Midcentury ATL Home | Dope Abodes
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Black women should probably stop talking or “raising awareness,” as I’d like to call it. Yes, you read that correctly. Because, at this point, it is quite clear that the internet is not a safe space for Black women to air out their grievances about the world, the workplace, and especially about how they’re treated.
By now, you’ve caught wind of the comments A-list actress Taraji P. Henson made about wanting to leave Hollywood for good. In addition to pay disparity being an issue, the 53-year-old co-star of The Color Purple added that food and transportation were also a concern while filming, forcing her to stand up not only for herself but for her fellow costars. But not long after her revelation to the public, Taraji suddenly became a villain simply because social media decided that her problem was not our problem. Her frustrations and her tears were quickly diminished to her simply complaining too much. The worst part about it, though, is that a lot of those complaints came from Black people!
Talk To Your Therapist, Not Us
Taraji’s story paints the perfect picture of why people do not speak out about being disenfranchised. Instead of standing in solidarity with Taraji, social media users suggested she should have waited until the film was over before airing out her grievances. People also suggested that because Taraji is rich, she shouldn’t have much to complain about. So, does that mean that Black women who get paid less than her or those who work a 9-5 get treated better? Help me understand.
Taraji has received so much negative feedback online that she’s now asking us to redirect our focus back to the film. However, she is still standing on her comments regarding pay disparity, telling Today.com that we can’t keep pretending like this isn’t happening in Hollywood, adding that change happens by talking about it.
We've Literally Heard It All Before
While Taraji’s comments are recent, we’ve heard this story several times before. The Oscar-nominated star previously expressed how Tyler Perry was the first (and at this point, only) executive to pay her her worth. We’ve also been here before with esteemed comedian and actress Mo’Nique. She, too, expressed how she’s had to fight back against a Hollywood that can award her with shiny trophies but not pay her what she’s earned. Following her claims of being lowballed, Mo’Nique also had to defend herself against social media backlash, from being called “Donkey of the Day” on The Breakfast Clubto even having to defend how she handled the (lowballing) situation, from her brother in comedy, Steve Harvey on The Steve Harvey Show.
More recently, Mo’Nique addressed being on the outs with Hollywood heavyweights again during an interview with Shannon Sharpe on Club Shay Shay. After being seemingly blackballed from the industry, she has since somewhat bounced back. Time will tell if Taraji’s transparency will end in the same fate, but this piece isn’t about Taraji or Mo’Nique. It’s about us, Black people. This was our chance to finally stand with our Black women, and we are failing them yet again.
Taraji's Problem Is "Not" My Problem
So many Black folks online truly believe this and are working so hard to ignore what Taraji said because she’s rich. The truth is, you do relate to her. Why? Because you are her. What Taraji is fighting for is not new. But we have to raise the bar on how we see ourselves in our own work spaces, to fully get it. We have to raise the bar on how we allow our own jobs to treat us and pay us. Do we not have enough examples to prove how these corporations like to play in our faces…unprovoked? If we can’t see our own worth, then we’re never going to understand what Taraji P. Henson, Mo’Nique, Viola Davis, or even Angela Bassett are fighting for.
What Happens When We Publicly Discredit Each Other Online
If we keep at it this way, Black content will continue to get shelved. Us not understanding our own value, is why we continue to have these same old conversations online. Understand that the powers that be see our division and will have ZERO incentive to change anything if we have ZERO incentive to change anything.
It is counterproductive to have these types of debates on social media platforms that are NOT OWNED BY US! How is it that we can all agree that these women weren’t wrong…but at the same time, we’re shaming them for talking about it? Which one is it? What started out as a conversation about equal pay and proper treatment on set has now spiraled into so many other things, including an alleged beef between Taraji and Oprah (beef which both women have strongly denounced).
When they see us being divided online about issues like this, what does that tell them?
It tells them that Black people are not on one accord, do not have each other’s backs, and will also contribute to each other’s downfall. And nothing will change. They will continue to play in our faces. Think I’m wrong? Take a quick glimpse at the uproar from social media after learning that MAX has canceledRap Sh!t, yet another popular Black show. Take a look at Netflix. The streaming service received backlash in 2022 after firing an entire team full of diverse, well-established, creative women of color. The same group of women were courted by the company and then let go within months of getting hired.
The powers that be are telling us directly in our faces that they are not on our side. So when Black social media users and even fellow Black co-actresses publicly denounce what Taraji is saying by adding that you “can’t relate” or over-explain how good you have it on your TV show….just know that you are a part of the problem. It is counterproductive! It is quite literally stepping back on all the progress we’ve made for Black women. Since when do we need to relate to someone who’s been victimized? This rule only applies to Black women! She doesn’t need to be perfect, to look like you, or to work the same job as you for her story to be valid. It is such a cop-out to deflect from the message.
People Get Treated Unfairly All the Time…AND?
The victim blaming has to stop. Does your job require you to pay a team full of people? No. Does your job require you to be away from your family for months on end? No. This attempt to try to humble Taraji for her decision to pursue acting as a career is insane. Telling her she should have “waited” to say something is also insane. There is literally “no such thing” as the perfect victim.
Standing up for yourself is never limited to time, space, or opportunity, and I really wish we could grasp that. The real question is, why aren’t you (the consumers) following in these women’s footsteps? Why aren’t you fighting to get paid what you’re worth at your job? Why are we so comfortable and accepting of being looked over, paid less, treated less, and everything else in between…instead of rallying together to “make” change?
Black women are allowed to speak out about their experiences, celebrity or not….they are still working individuals. They are still fighting for their livelihoods just like everyone else. What do you think the writers’ and actors’ strike was for exactly?
But I Watch Black Content, So I Do Support It
It’s about more than just watching Black content. We’ve made it crystal clear that we can show up in droves to support Black creatives, Black content, etc; we are the trendsetters! But dare I say, what’s happening in the back of the house is just as important, if not more. We’ve seen how powerful social media is in making changes happen. We, as black people, must use social media to stand behind each other. Keep your counterproductive comments in the group chat. Stop speaking against us on public platforms that are NOT OWNED BY US.
Issa Rae didn’t give a call to action for us to boycott Max after Rap Sh!t's cancellation, but look how quickly people started posting that they’re boycotting MAX for consistently canceling Black shows. We also had no problem supporting Katt Williams and are even entertaining the idea that he should get his own podcast to air out more Hollywood tea, but the goal-post somehow gets moved when Taraji speaks up for herself? Come on. We also have to stop supporting corporations, films, employers, etc, who do not hear us. We can’t claim Taraji, Mo'Nique, and Viola Davis as ours, say they should’ve won the Oscar, etc., but then other them when they’re asking for our support. It’s not enough to say, “Well, that’s how is.” Stop accepting scraps! Raise the bar!
What's the End Goal Here?
We are too comfortable seeing Black women struggle in silence. We are too used to seeing them so strong that we don’t give them space to be vulnerable, to be human, to make mistakes, and not get reprimanded for doing so.
We need to figure out what we want as a collective, specifically as Black consumers. Do we want change? Do we want to get treated fairly and paid fairly? Do you want to be told the truth, or do you just want to be entertained no matter what’s happening behind the scenes and who it’s happening to? Do you want people to be able to share their experiences, or do you want them to suffer in silence? Or is outrage only allowed when it affects you?
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