Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Speakeasy with Tionna Smalls

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 5:27 PM

Tionna pic

During her brief run as an advice columnist at Gawker, New York writer Tionna Smalls developed a cult fan base for her raunchy, hilarious musings on relationships, love and hygiene. Sample pearl of wisdom: “Is that all you want out of your life — hard dick and bubblegum? I think not.”

Fired by Nick Denton at the beginning of 2008, Smalls was expected to disappear into the internet ether. But since being chosen by VH1 to star in a reality series with TLC member Chilli, currently known as "The Untitled Chilli Project," the enormous-bosomed Brooklyn native is back in the spotlight. The show doesn’t debut until next year, but she’s moved to Atlanta for the taping and has already made gossip news for dissing Ciara, who apparently doesn't know how to act on the red carpet. Smalls also has a new advice blog, the Love Advisor.

How did the VH1 show come about?

My column at Gawker was a hit, so the producers requested a meeting with me. They told me they had a show coming out about helping a celebrity find love, and that it would be perfect for me. I went down to the audition and talked my talk about relationships, and about six weeks later I was flown out to Los Angeles. That was my first time ever on a plane.

What’s the basic premise of the show?

The show is about Chilli finding love, but also showing her life as a celebrity, mother, daughter and sister. My role on the show is to help Chilli find love and open up her mind to new and exciting things.

What’s Chilli like off-camera?

She’s a cool chick. She's just like a normal woman just with a lot more going for herself.  She's pretty, she's in shape, she’s real, and she can cook. She takes great care of herself. Her home is beautiful. She loves her son, Tron, and is a great mom. She knows what she wants — she's a real tough cookie.

How do you like Atlanta?

I am definitely loving Atlanta right now. It’s clean with no trash, a whole different thing than New York. There are some great people out here. It's nothing to run into a black lawyer or a black doctor; I love that. The rent out here is affordable and you get more bang for your buck. I am definitely impressed; and no the A! is not too slow for this Brooklyn girl. I have been trying to get down here my whole life. I always heard good things about Atlanta, so it was definitely a dream come true to come down here and tape the show. Atlanta will definitely be a second home for me.

I know you were unhappy after parting ways with Gawker. How are you feeling about that situation nowadays?

Nowadays I don't care, because, like Kandi Burruss said, “I fly above all the haters.” The owner of Gawker [Nick Denton] was a hater, he was mad that I was getting so much attention from his site. Something that was supposed to be a joke was becoming a lifestyle for this “hood girl.” But I thank them because they helped me go from a regular chick to getting on a show and making a brand of myself.

How did you originally get the Gawker gig?

I had an independently published book called Girl, Get Your Mind Right! and I was trying to get some press for it. I was trying to send an email to Gothamist, but I must have gotten my names mistaken because I ended up sending the email to Gawker. They thought that it was hilarious and printed it. Then one of the editors wrote me asking for advice and I gave her the advice and the next thing I know they were sending me 1099 forms. It all happened in like two days. ... I was young, broke, and needed the money so it was like hitting the jackpot. I never knew so many people read Gawker. Soon, I was hanging out with producers of big networks, publicists, entertainers, etc. It was crazy!

Do you feel you were born to give advice?

Yes, because I am very opinionated and I love to help people — women especially. I was the friend that stayed on the phone for hours with my girlfriends helping them out with their man. My father is the one who taught me how to be wise. I remember when I was young, he would give us advice. Sometimes it would get me sick because he would go on and on for hours, but now that I’m older I appreciate it.

You’ve already made news down here for your strong words for Ciara. Do you plan to make an example out of any other celebrities?

I don’t really blog about celebrities anymore, but when I see a celebrity do something ill I have to let it be known. The funny thing about Ciara is that I liked her before that fiasco in Vegas. But she messed up by acting like a pompous jerk. I think Ciara should definitely work on her attitude. Everyone can’t be wrong when they call her a biotch.

I will blow up any celebrity that is pompous because people have the right to know, but I won’t make examples of them unless they're acting up. In the future I want to work with other celebrities, to give them a reality check, celebs with real problems like Lindsay Lohan. Oh my god! Imagine a show with me helping Lindsay get herself together, to stop drinking, to stop smoking, to stop being suicidal and becoming a real chick. That would be a show!

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