Nia Long Talks Replacing Jada Pinkett Smith On “Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air”

Nia Long was cast as Will Smith’s girlfriend on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” back in the mid-1990s, but only after Jada was hired and replaced.

BYErika Marie
Nia Long Talks Replacing Jada Pinkett Smith On “Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air”

It was apparently a close call between Nia Long and Jada Pinkett-Smith for the role of Will Smith's girlfriend on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The part of Lisa Wilkes in season five of the classic series eventually went to Nia, but she revealed that she was actually production's second choice after Jada. In 1994, both ladies were toe-to-toe for the role, and the auditioning process for the part was how Will and Jada would first meet each other. The following year, Will and Jada officially became a couple.

This is a story that has been shared repeatedly over the years, but Nia Long revisited the fun fact once again during a sit-down with PeopleTV's Couch Surfing. She watched her last scene on the show—the wedding—and reflected on a few memories. “First they cast Jada to play his girlfriend,” Nia said. “Yes! They cast Jada and they were like, ‘Jada’s too short.’ I’m like, 'I'm only about two inches taller than her, that does not make a difference, right.'"

The casting didn't stop the two women from becoming friends over these past decades. “The joke that I have with Jada is that I got the job but she got the husband,” the 49-year-old added. “That’s like our running joke.” In another recent interview with Entertainment Tonight, the actress reflected on her Fresh Prince days and said, "Will is like a light. When he walks into a room, he changes the energy."

Check out Nia Long's brief clip on PeopleTV's Couch Surfing and a scene from her time on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air below.

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About The Author
Erika Marie is a seasoned journalist, editor, and ghostwriter who works predominantly in the fields of music, spirituality, mental health advocacy, and social activism. The Los Angeles editor, storyteller, and activist has been involved in the behind-the-scenes workings of the entertainment industry for nearly two decades. E.M. attempts to write stories that are compelling while remaining informative and respectful. She's an advocate of lyrical witticism & the power of the pen. Favorites: Motown, New Jack Swing, '90s R&B, Hip Hop, Indie Rock, & Punk; Funk, Soul, Harlem Renaissance Jazz greats, and artists who innovate, not simply replicate.