Nia Long recently got candid about putting her oldest son, Massai Z. Dorsey II, through college at New York University and what that looked like money-wise.

Long recently appeared at the American Black Film Festival for its 2024 edition, taking place in a fireside conversation for Ally. During the panel, titled “Money and Mindfulness: A Conversation with Nia Long,” Jack Howard (Ally’s Head of Money Wellness) moderated a discussion with the actress, who recently wrapped filming Antoine Fuqua’s Michael Jackson biopic.

Jack Howard, Nicole Friday, Indya Davis, Nia Long and Erica Hughes | Photo by Alekandra London/Getty Images

Howard asked Long what she would say are some of her values as it relates to money. “One of the things is [that] I started saving for my children before I became a mother,” she said. “I took $3,000 and I just put 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. And he just graduated and I’m so proud. It makes me cry, because we did it. Yes, we did it. And it was a plan. 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.”

Long also spoke about the joy that she had during Massai’s graduation and how he was able to accomplish something that she hadn’t.

“When he walked, I was the most loud mama at that graduation,” she explained. “That was me. I was screaming. I flew my whole family to New York, and it was just amazing to see him do something that I always wanted to do, because my mother couldn’t afford to put me through school. And things turned out differently for me. I left high school and I went straight to a soap opera, and then my career just kept happening. I really planted the seed in him that he would graduate from NYU, even though he thought he was going to be a professional baseball player [laughs]. Which I never killed the dream, I just kept planting the seeds. Kept planting the seeds. And that’s what I think we have to do for our children to create generational wealth. But we have to do that for ourselves.”

The actress then revealed that her oldest will be attending law school now that he has graduated from NYU with his bachelor’s degree.

“So in four years, anybody in here looking for a young lawyer [or] attorney, he’s going to be a good one,” she jokingly pitched. “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. So 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.”

She then explained how she wants to instill that same work ethic she has, despite the fact that he is the son of a Hollywood actress.

“I’m trying to navigate those two things for him to feel like he can walk in any room, but for him to understand that you still have to work hard and you are Black, and you are, yes, [and] you’ll be your mom’s son, but no one cares. Just go out there to make a way for yourself. It’s you have to know that balance and understand that making a way for your children is great, but don’t overindulge. Don’t spoil them. Some days it hurts my heart to be like, ‘Here’s $60, make it last for three weeks.’ He’s like, ‘Mom, I live in New York.’ I’m like, ‘I don’t care. Figure it out.’ And then I go cry. He helps me a lot, he handles my social media. If I have a technical issue, he’s right there. So one thing I learned is putting your child on payroll. I get some [tax] benefits, it’s also teaching him how to be an adult. When he comes home to visit LA, [I’m] like you need to stay in New York because if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. So he’s living in Brooklyn where I’m from, so he’s learning how to make that money work, and understanding what taxes mean. Because it is a very different check.”