A lot can happen in 20 years. On the flip side, those two decades can also shine a light on how much hasn’t changed.

The Root sat down with Nia Long and Omar Epps, two Black actors who dominated the ’90s and are reuniting in Netflix’s new thriller, Fatal Affair.

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The synopsis of the film, via Netflix:

Ellie (Nia Long) tries to mend her marriage with her husband Marcus (Stephen Bishop) after a brief encounter with an old friend, David (Omar Epps), only to find that David is more dangerous and unstable than she’d realized.

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In Fatal Affair, Ellie and David haven’t seen each other in 20 years and in real life, Long and Epps haven’t starred in a film together in 20 years—since In Too Deep. So, we thought this would be a great opportunity to reflect on the industry given their respective tenure.

“What made this film important to me when I read it and to have Omar join me in this was we have such a loyal fanbase and something magical happened in the 90s,” Long, who scored her first producer credit with this film, noted. “The 90s is when everything fantastic happened. That culture of the 90s will never repeat itself in the same way.”

“I think things have changed for the better for the most part, but, it really is the simple fact there’s a thousand TV channels now,” Epps added. “It’s just so many more outlets, so we have to keep pushing on. We can’t just have 1 Tyler Perry, we need a hundred Tyler Perrys. We can’t have 1 Will Packer, we need 100 Will Packers.”

Long has also been outspoken about the wage gap and the fight for pay equity in Hollywood. In 2018, she spoke about it at a Hollywood Foreign Press Association event, so we decided to follow-up on that, especially given the timely topic of how Black women are being erased in all facets within society.

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“Women are in a great position right now to speak up, to push forward and to stay true to what they believe,” Long said. “Black women, especially—I’m still looking for justice for Breonna Taylor [...] and I’m expecting that. In terms of the industry—it’s so complicated, but here’s my theory—if the unions are required to have diversity on every set, from the actors to the producers to the behind-the-scenes, that will open up and create more opportunity. The only reason why we don’t have more leadership and a larger voice in this industry is because of the lack of opportunity.”

Fatal Affair is currently streaming on Netflix.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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