Nia Long remembers replacing Jada Pinkett Smith as Will’s girlfriend on ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’

Casting thought Jada was too short to play Will Smith's girlfriend on the sitcom. In real life, the couple has been married for more than 20 years

Nia Long and Jada Pinkett-Smith (Credit: Getty Images)

Nia Long is an industry veteran whose seen it all. During a recent interview, she opened up about what it was like behind the scenes beating out Jada Pinkett-Smith to play Will Smith‘s girlfriend Lisa Wilkes on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Earlier this month, the actress was a guest on PeopleTV’s Couch Surfing. She revealed that in 1994 she got the part in the fifth season of the show after it was first given to Will’s wife, Jada.

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Jada and Will actually met each other while Jada was auditioning for the part and began dating less than one year later. Despite the clear chemistry that ultimately led to them getting married in 1997 and becoming an A-list Hollywood power couple, casting thought Jada was simply too short to play the part of Wilkes.

“I just remember that this was literally the last day I was on the show,” said the actress.

“I was originally cast to do two or three episodes,” she continued. “First, they cast Jada to play his girlfriend. Yes, they cast Jada and they were like, ‘Jada’s too short.’ I’m like, ‘I’m only about two inches taller than her, that does not make a difference, right?’ The joke that I have with Jada is that I got the job but she got the husband.”

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