Far before Nia Long could fathom becoming a mother, she was putting in work to ensure that her future children would be able to live out their collegiate dreams.

An actress best known for starring in cult classics like “Soul Food,” “The Best Man,” and “Love Jones,” Long is the mother of two sons, 23-year-old Massai Z. Dorsey II and 12-year-old Kez Sunday Udoka.

During a fireside conversation hosted by Ally Financial during the 2024 American Black Film Festival, Long opened up about her journey to motherhood and how smart financial savings helped her put her eldest son through college without the help of any loans.

At one point during the panel, “Money and Mindfulness: A Conversation with Nia Long,” the actress was asked what her values regarding her finances are.

“One of the things is [that] I started saving for my children before I became a mother,” she recalled. “I took $3,000 and I just put [it] in this account. I was like, ‘I’m never touching that.’ And it allowed me to get my son through NYU without any student loans.”

Long is referring to her eldest son, Dorsey, who just graduated from New York University. 

“I’m so proud. It makes me cry because we did it. Yes, we did it. And it was a plan,” Long continued. “And if you put that plan into action and you just don’t waver from your ultimate goal, God will show you the way to get there. I can’t even explain it any other way. You just have to trust the process.”

Now that Dorsey has earned his bachelor’s degree from NYU, Long says he plans to attend law school next.

“So in four years, anybody in here looking for a young lawyer [or] attorney, he’s going to be a good one,” Long said. “He needs a job to pay me back. If he’s anything like me, he has a spirit of abundance… a little bit too much because he’s still in my pocket. I just called him on my way here. I got a bill for his electric bill. I said, ‘Massai, really?’ And see, this is the thing, you can’t spoil them too much because part of what made me do what I’ve done is the hustle. You’ve got to draw the line where you don’t tamper with the hustle because in that hustle is that little bit of gangster that makes us make a difference.”

Long shared her desire to instill her work ethic in Dorsey. As the child of a Hollywood actress, he has found some success thus far.