Actress Nia Long recently buried her father. Losing a parent can be a traumatic event and particularly painful if you didn’t feel that you didn’t get what you would have liked from that parent. That was the case for Nia and her father, Doughtry Long.
Doughty, who fathered both Nia and comedian Sommore, was a poet, author and mentor and teacher in Trenton, New Jersey. He died on January 27 at 77-years-old.
Recently, in promotion of her new film The Banker and an upcoming Netflix project with Omar Epps, called Fatal Affair, Long spoke about her relationship with her father when he was alive and now that he’s gone. See what she had to say below.
“I lost my father recently. He was a great man and it’s amazing. I learned more about him by being in Trenton for a week, just putting the whole thing together than I never knew. I’m an adult. My life is in California. He was in Trenton. And he was such an icon in the community and did so much for so many of those kids, living down there. I was really proud of him. He is a poet, a writer, a photographer, just a renaissance man. Loved jazz music and good food. He was really like Larenz Tate in Love Jones but older.
The school Trenton High School did a beautiful tribute to my father. They did spoken word and some of his past students came. I could not stop crying. I was like this is amazing. Because sometimes, what a person can’t do for their own children, they do for the world. And I’m okay with that if that meant that I had to share him.”
Charlamagne: Ooo. I think that’s because parents they learn more as they grow. So when they were raising us. They were doing the best they could.
Nia: They were 22-years-old. I was thinking about that. And I said, ‘Mommy,’ I looked at my mother during the service, I said, ‘You were 22-years-old when you had me. Right now, today, I forgive you for everything.’ Because I couldn’t have done it at 22. At 22, I was in the club with Puff and Heavy and all the guys. We were in the club back then.
Charlamagne: That’s been a heavy conversation with my therapist the past few weeks—forgiving your parents—well my father particularly because they only could do the best that they could because they didn’t know any better when they were younger.
Nia: You have to really do it for yourself. If you commit that healing with yourself, it will honestly change the way you experience your own life. Because I think for a lot of years I was disappointed and angry and I wanted my dad to read me a bedtime story and be there and do all of the things that a daddy is supposed to do. And I think my father had a very old school way of approaching life because Black people are raised to survive. And my mother and my grandmother, coming from the Islands, they had a different philosophy. So had my parents stayed together, I may have still been an actress, but I don’t think it would have happened as quickly as it did in my life and I don’t think I would have been a part of the era that really helped to define Black cinema. When I look at my life—and I’m going to be 50 this year—I can’t believe it. But my point is when you get to this age, it’s a beautiful time in my life because I can actually put everything in perspective and now it all makes sense. And I feel more free and alive than I have in the last ten years because I have understanding and I’ve forgiven myself for not forgiving people sooner in my own life or forgiving my father for things that he was unable to do. And it’s a good thing to do.
Charlamagne: Don’t we have the luxury of healing though? This generation has the luxury of healing.
Nia: Absolutely, the fact that you just said I’ve spoken to my therapist about certain things. Black people were not saying that 15-20 years ago. Because the idea was if you got to therapy there’s something really wrong with you. And the reality is, we have so much information coming at us. 24/7 with our phones, with the world, with a crazy president. You need to be able to sit down and organize your life and your thoughts. And if you don’t do that you will be in a constant state—you’ll have anxiety.
You can watch Nia Long’s full interview in the video below.
“for a lot of years I was disappointed and angry