Actress Nia Long, who is best known for her role as Beulah “Lisa” Wilkes in the popular TV series Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, recently shared her thoughts about her former costar Will Smith in an interview with Yahoo’s Kevin Polowy. Long, who played Smith’s character’s girlfriend and fiancée on the show, praised Smith for how he has handled himself in the spotlight throughout his career.

“I will always have a special place in my heart for Will. He’s had an incredible career, and he’s carried a burden for many years to try and represent what perfection and achievement looks like,” Long said.

Long also reflected on her generation’s idea of “celebrity” and how it has changed over the years. She mentioned that when they were growing up, there was little room for celebrities to be human, but now, celebrities are able to be more authentic and genuine.

Last year, Smith went viral after slapping Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars. The unscripted moment came after Rock, 57, mocked Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved hairstyle, which was done to her alopecia. Smith faced a great deal of backlash before he eventually apologized for his behavior.

Though Long did not directly mention Smith’s outburst, she equated life in the spotlight to that of a strict routine, which sometimes does not allow for authenticity. “We all have our moments in life where we need to reconcile things that we suppress,” she said. “It’s hard growing up in this business and being front and center every day, all day.”

Long also talked about how she appreciates the anonymity that her career has allowed her. “I can go to the grocery store anytime I want to, and for the most part, people are like ‘Hey, Nia Long.’ No one’s chasing me down the street. I still have my anonymity, and I appreciate that about my career.”

In addition to discussing her career, Long also got emotional discussing the difficulties she’s faced in recent months. Long went through a very public breakup last year with her fiancé, former Boston Celtics Coach Ime Udoka, after 13 years together. He had been caught having an affair with a female subordinate within the Celtics organization.

“I’ve had some pretty devastating moments in my life over the last couple of months, and I’ve had to just say ‘It’s alright. You’ll pick yourself back up’ — oh, my God I’m about to cry,” Long added. “You pick yourself back up, and you keep it moving.”

Source: Nia Long Says Will Smith ‘Carried a Burden’ to be Perfect in Hollywood (