Tionna Smalls was audaciously blunt long before becoming the feisty outspoken dating coach on What Chilli Wants. The twenty-something Brooklyn native had a weekly advice column on Gawker.com based on her self-published book, Girl, Get Your Mind Right! And whether people loved or hated it, her over-the-top personality commanded 20,000 page views whenever she posted a new blog.
Smalls’ new claim to fame is trying to hook TLC’s impossibly picky Chilli up with the man of her dreams but shortly after the show’s Vh1 debut, rumors surfaced in the blogosphere that the pair had a serious dispute. According to Smalls, there was a disagreement but it got blown out of proportion because not everyone can handle a woman who speaks her mind. Moral of the story: Tionna Smalls ain’t for everybody.
“Everybody thinks in this business you gotta be phony to make it and I’m just trying to make it without being that way and selling my soul,” Smalls tells VIBE. “I’m the type of girl where I don’t care who you are or what kind of person you are⎯I don’t care about people’s résumés. If I’m mad, I’m mad, that’s it. Any time [Chilli] showed me shade, we had an argument.”
Smalls and Chilli met once before the show began taping to discuss Chilli’s standards and the direction for the series but didn’t really get to know each other until the show began taping.
“People don’t understand that me and Chilli weren’t friends when we started this process. We really got to know each other as you got to watch us going through it on the show,” Smalls says. “And sometimes people disagree. If somebody says something you don’t like and vice versa then you argue.”
The tone of their relationship kept the same consistency even after taping ended. Smalls says that there was friction at times but insists that rumors about an actual fight are untrue.
“We had a little bit of a disagreement but we don’t have issues anymore. Everybody keeps talking about a fight that did not happen. I cannot fight Chilli she’s too little,” Smalls quips. “When it comes down to why we don’t talk, we’re both very busy. It’s like if she needs me again I’ll be there and if I need her she’ll be there [but] we’re not besties.”
With two episodes left of What Chilli Wants, Smalls is beginning the next phase of her career. She has a book deal with a major publishing company⎯which she can’t yet reveal⎯to reprint Girl, Get Your Mind Right! with what she describes as “new, professional flavor,” and she’s also working on a new TV show where her role will be behind the camera as producer.
“I learned from doing Chilli’s show that you have to know your business so what people don’t understand is that I’m about to go in,” Smalls exclaims. “I bring a whole new flavor to TV [and] I’m trying to get this money and get things popping.” ⎯Starrene Rhett