Nia Long Reveals Just How Real Boyz N The Hood Was For Her (Video)

Though she was there to promote her appearance in Keanu, Nia and Snoop spend a good amount of time discussing other roles she has inhabited over the years. Early in the conversation, Snoop notes that Nia has been in some great comedy films, notably Friday with Ice Cube and Chris Tucker, and asks how she started becoming associated with lighter fare, as a dramatic actress (1:20). Nia responds that in the early stages of her career, she did not want to take comedic roles, because she thought they might cause some to take her less seriously in her craft. The answer leads her to discussing John Singleton’s Boyz N The Hood, which she says was “the film that put [her] name on the map.”

When Snoop follows up with a question about who gave Long the most wisdom on and off the screen, she again harkens back to her Boyz N The Hood experience, citing Laurence Fishburne, who played the iconic father figure, Furious Styles (2:25). In speaking about Fishburne, Nia recalls how he prepared her for the scene where she had to tell people in the neighborhood that the character “Ricky” had been shot. “I was a young actress so I didn’t quite know how to do it where it didn’t seem overly-dramatic, but it needed to be big,” she says. “He pulled me aside and he was like ‘I want you to say that like somebody you really cared about just got shot, and don’t hold back. It doesn’t matter how hysterical you are. It needs to be big,'” Long continues, noting that “he really explained to me what that moment was in the movie. Not just for my character, but for the movie.”

As Nia goes further into her recollections about the film, to Snoop’s surprise, she says “it was so much like my life ’cause I grew up like 2 blocks away from where we shot” (4:44). She also details her skepticism about the project upon hearing about it from her agent, saying that, before knowing anything about Singleton, her initial reaction was “yeah, right. Some white guy trying to write a movie about the hood. I was like ‘I’m not fuckin’ auditioning for that shit,'” as she and Snoop burst into laughter. Still not convinced, even when her agent explained the writer was black, Long’s next thought was “well, send me the script. Let me see his work, ’cause if he’s from Beverly Hills trying to write about how we livin’, I ain’t trying to hear this shit.” The revelations don’t stop there. Long goes on to detail her first awkward encounter with John Singleton, as well as a number of the striking parallels between her real life and that of her character, “Brandy,” concluding that she had a lot to draw on because “it was exactly how I grew up on St. Andrew’s Place.”

From there, Nia and Snoop launch into a detailed discussion about Keanu, and after Long leaves, in an appended segment, Key and Peele join the show via a remote location, to further discuss the film.

Related: New Jack City & Boyz N the Hood to Be Honored as Hip-Hop’s Influence in Film Continues to Grow