Nia Long’s Financial Blueprint Will Help You Build Your Personal Wealth

Nia Long knew she wanted to pay for her children’s college tuition without the assistance of loans, so she started her kids’ college funds early—really early.

“I started saving for my children before I became a mother,” the actress and soon-to-be published author exclaimed (she’s working on her memoir). “It allowed me to get my son through college without any student loans.”

Her eldest son, Massai Zhivago Dorsey II, who graduated from New York University loan-free in May 2024, is now on her payroll. “He is no longer a student, so now he can be my employee. He has to file taxes and understand how to budget that check,” she said.

Learning how to manage your finances is just one of the financial gems the Soul Food star dropped at “Money and Mindfulness: A Conversation with Nia Long” panel presented by Ally at the 2024 American Black Film Festival. On stage with Jack Howard, head of Money Wellness at Ally, a digital banking institution, the two engaged in an intimate and candid discussion about wealth and wellness.

Long’s desire to be able to provide for her kids without assistance stemmed from her own humbling childhood experience. “My parents divorced when I was around 2, and my mother had two Masters in Fine Arts, but that didn’t mean she was getting a job,” she shared. “We landed in South Central LA, and I remember it being really hard for her all the time. My driving force and motivation to be an actress was to help.”

Long then recounted how her mother had once used government vouchers to pay a bill. “I remember how the cashier looked at us like, ‘Oh, you’re one of those’…So I say this with love to you that I understand the shame that is connected to the government’s help.” (Ever stalwart, Long’s mother was driving an LA city bus within weeks after this incident.)

Building wealth over an extended period of time became Long’s money mantra. With the first significant check she received from her 35-year acting career, The Best Man leading lady helped her mother buy a condo. She took the remainder—$9,000 in total—to a financial advisor.

“I said, ‘Treat me like your daughter. Because if I lose this, I lose everything. I want you to help me build this money’…I’ve never touched that money and it’s now [my] retirement.”

Long emphasized there is no shame in wanting financial independence and building generational wealth. “I know how hard I’ve worked. There were no trust funds. There was no rich daddy. It’s the force of my ancestors that has given me the audacity to work this hard to expect to have a beautiful life.”

She stated that when you do make a purchase, it should have some value. “It’s okay to have moments where you want fly things and materialism, but don’t buy a bunch of junk,” the actress with Trinidadian roots declared.

“If you’re going to buy a bag, buy a good bag; you never know you might have to resell it. But really, go for property. That’s what I’ve done. I have purchased a piece of property whenever I can because I know when it’s all said and done and I want a simple, small life, I can liquidate my assets and go back to the islands to have a little fish shop.”

Dropping other pearls of wisdom, Long revealed she had taken a line of credit. “If you had a property long enough with equity in that property, apply for a line of credit and don’t use it,” she suggested. “Just keep it there. I did that right before Covid, and thank God because nobody worked for a long time. Then there was an actors’ strike. Luckily, I never had to use it, but just knowing that it was there made me feel safe.”

She wants us all to change how we approach money. “If you look at it as a way to survive, you’re thinking in a box. The goal is, ‘How do I get the money that I’m making to make more money for me,’” she advised.

“It’s hard for Black folks because that’s not our experience in America. We’re dealing with institutional racism, which holds back every single idea of getting forward. So we create our own institutions, which is basically what ABFF is,” she continued.

“This is the flow of abundance…you’re here and already survived. Now, how do you become great?”

Updated: June 20, 2024 — 12:03 pm