Nia Long praised her former "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" costar Will Smith in a recent interview.
"He's had an incredible career, and he's carried a burden for many years," Long said.
The actor also referenced Smith's behavior at the Academy Awards in 2022.
Nia Long has nothing but love for Will Smith.
In a recent interview with Yahoo Entertainment, the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" actor praised her former costar for his success and character.
"I will always love him," said Long, who played Lisa Wilkes on the show, which ran from 1990 to '96. "He's had an incredible career, and he's carried a burden for many years to try to represent what perfection looks like or achievement looks like."
Long then said being a Hollywood celebrity had evolved since the show's run in the '90s, which catapulted Smith to stardom. Being a celebrity today allows a superstar like Smith a little more leeway, she suggested.
"I don't think that — at least when we were growing up — there was room to be human," Long said. "I think he's now able to be human."
Smith stunned the world when he slapped Chris Rock onstage at the Oscars last year, which resulted in Smith being barred from the Oscars ceremony and other Academy events for 10 years and Smith's resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. He slapped the Oscars host after Rock cracked a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's head. She has alopecia and sported a shaved head at the event.
The now infamous slap may have hurt Smith's career, with several projects, including "Bad Boys 4" and the nature show "Pole to Pole," put on hold immediately following the incident, Bloomberg and The Hollywood Reporter reported. Smith, for his part, eventually apologized via YouTube for his actions.
While Long didn't explicitly cite the Oscars slap, she referenced it in a roundabout fashion.
"We all have our moments in life where we need to reconcile things that we suppress," Long added. "And I think it's hard growing up in this business and being front and center every day, all day."
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