For Nia Long ― and the rest of black America ― “Love Jones” will forever hold its place in her heart.
Last Tuesday, the actress spoke at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ “In the Mood for ‘Love Jones,’” a celebration of the romantic film’s 20th anniversary. Long said that her role as Nina Mosley in the 1997 movie was the most relatable character she has played to date.
In the movie, Nina falls in love with Darius Lovehall, played by Larenz Tate, through their shared devotion to art and poetry.
“When I’ve looked back on all the women that I’ve played, in this beautiful career with these wonderful opportunities, Nina is probably the most like myself,” said Long alongside Tate, both of whom are still foine.
What she also appreciates about the movie is its representation of black love and the significance that has maintained to this day.
“Black people were so excited to see ourselves like this,” she said. “But I think when the film was released, because there was no formulaic process to follow, it sort of got lost as this hidden gem and I’m OK with that...because we’re all here today celebrating [it].”
The movie made $4 million on its opening weekend and has only grossed about $12.4 million worldwide. But Long said if it weren’t for the small-scaled premiere, which allowed the movie to become what she describes as a “cult classic,” it may not have made its mark in black cinema.
“When you have staying power and the story is relevant and we’re all given permission to show black love on film, then I’m doing my job,” she said, inviting emphatic nods of agreement.
What saddens her about the flick is the lack of movies that followed suit.
“The only disappointment I have is that we have not seen a film like this since,” she said.
Nineteen years after “Love Jones” premiered, producer Melvin Childs recreated the love story last fall as a musical that starred Tony Grant and Chrisette Michele. The play wasn’t met with the best reception given its stark differences from the film, but nonetheless, the mere production of the play spoke to the movie’s cultural significance.
Watch Nia Long reflect on her Nina Mosley days below: