Hollywood actress Nia Long highlights TSU annual Women of Legend and Merit awards

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Hollywood superstar and multi-award winning actress Nia Long had a message for Tennessee State University students, honorees, and guest: Be graceful, be fearless, and be your authentic self.

Hundreds gathered on April 11 for the highly anticipated annual TSU Women of Legend and Merit (WOLM) Awards, a ceremony recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of women in the community.

WOLM honorees, President Glenda Glover and actress Nia Long. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

The elaborate awards dinner in Kean Hall honored dozens of local notable women with Hollywood legend Nia Long as the keynote speaker.

“If you change your thinking, your doing will be different,” Long said during the event. “Be fearless. No one is going to believe in you the way you believe in yourself.”

With an extensive body of work that includes television, film credits and production, Long detailed the journey of her career and overcoming obstacles as a woman in the entertainment industry.  “Sometimes we are given less than. But don’t pay attention to that, keep moving forward.”

Hundreds gathered on April 11 for the highly anticipated annual TSU Women of Legend and Merit (WOLM) Awards ceremony. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

During the event, three TSU students asked Long questions, including Miss TSU Sa’Mariah Harding, who asked how the Hollywood actress was able to overcome and be able to step into her own lane as a Black woman.

Miss TSU Sa’Mariah Harding, a senior from Indiana, hugs Nia Long moments before the annual Women of Legend and Merit awards. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“Be yourself no matter what,” Long told Harding. “Stick to what feels real.”

TSU President Glenda Glover congratulated the honorees and recognized Long for her thriving career on the big screen that has earned her many accolades.

Long received a lifetime achievement award in recognition of her range within the entertainment industry.

The WOLM awards is designed to bring awareness and raise funds to support the TSU Women’s Center, which offers student-focused programming to empower individuals and student organizations. The center’s Director, Seanne Wilson, said this year’s WOLM event, themed “Extraordinary Women Living Legendary Lives,” was aimed to empower both men and women to discover their destiny without fear.

President Glenda Glover and actress Nia Long. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

The honorees this year, in various categories, were Dr. Cherae M. Farmer-Dixon, Dean of School of Dentistry at Meharry Medical College – Medicine; Dr. LaDonna Boyd, President/CEO R.H. Boyd – Media; Dr. Laquita Stribling, Vice President, Tennessee Manufacturing and logistics – Business; Patricia Malone Smith, Director of Corporate Relations, Urban League of Middle Tennessee – Community Service; Janet Rachel, President, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., Metropolitan Nashville Chapter – Leadership; Laura Fitzgerald Cooper, Attorney and Freelance Writer – Education; and Jennifer Bell, Associate Athletic Director, Tennessee State University – Athletics.

Tamar Williams, a sophomore mass communications from Memphis, Tennessee, received a Women’s Center student ambassador award.

For more information on the TSU Women’s Center, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/womenscenter/

About Nia Long

Nia Long recently produced and starred in the Netflix smash hit thriller Fatal Affair which debuted at number one on the platform. Additionally, Nia starred opposite Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Mackie in the Apple film, The Banker, for which she received an NAACP Image Award nomination for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture.” Other recent film credits include Janicza Bravo’s Sundance-nominated.

Lemon, and Netflix’s Roxanne Roxanne with Chanté Adams and Mahershala Ali. In TV, recent credits include Kenya Barris’ #BlackAF and Justin Simien’s Dear White People. Nia is well known for her iconic work in Boyz In The Hood, Friday, Love Jones, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Third Watch, and The Best Man franchise; the latter two garnering her three NAACP Image Award wins. Recently, she headlined the Sony feature film Searching 2, a follow-up to the hugely successful and critically acclaimed box office hit Searching, as well as the Netflix feature Plus/Minus. She also starred in the Peacock limited series The Best Man: The Final Chapters, where she reprised her two-time film role alongside the original cast, and also appeared in the Netflix comedy, You People, opposite Jonah Hill and Eddie Murphy, with Kenya Barris directing.