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September 22, 2014

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Tionna Smalls: Meet the Woman Playing Matchmaker on VH1's 'What Chilli Wants'

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For Brooklyn-born Tionna Smalls, playing matchmaker to TLC singer Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas hasn't been much different from doling out advice to lesser-known women.

Smalls has been professionally giving her two cents to anyone who will listen for some three years now, and her new VH1 show is simply providing a different forum.

"I wrote an independent book called 'Girl Get Your Mind Right,' and I got an advice column at Gawker.com, but I don't consider myself an advice columnist," she told BV Newswire this week.

Smalls encountered a great deal of criticism for what she describes as not being "proper" enough while at Gawker, which eventually led to her column being pulled by the Web site's creator and managing editor, Nick Denton.

"People said I was faking it for the white people," she revealed. "Before I got that column, I went nine months without one check, so the first time I got a check I was not thinking about the ins and outs of the business [but], would I have done it the same way again? No, I would use less Ebonics."

She says people at Gawker became jealous of her popularity and that Denton canceled her column abruptly because he said the site wasn't "going in that direction anymore."

But where one door shuts, another one opens.

The Discovery Channel signed Smalls to a development deal and though it didn't pan out, VH1 called her last year to help find the Grammy Award winning former chart-topper a man.

"What people are going to like about 'What Chilli Wants' is [how] Chilli and I have different personalities and the difficulty is finding a guy that meets her standards," Smalls said. "A lot of times she is not over a lot of things with stuff in the past, but I can't judge her. That's what it is."

But things between the two women have been heating up – and not in a good way – in a very public forum. Smalls took to Twitter last week and indirectly lashed out at Chilli.

She wrote, "I may be nobody, but seriously, you're nobody either but a glimpse from Christmas past."

Smalls added, "You and I both know who made you relevant then dissed and dismissed your ass. I didn't eff nobody in the game to get to where I'm at."

When questioned about whether she was beefing with Chilli, she let loose: "Me and Chilli, we have two different personalities and sometimes in this business, older people feel like you should know your role. But what they don't understand [is] I am not going to change my attitude for nobody."

"I got over a few things over the past few weeks,' Smalls confessed. "I was not her friend before the show. I got to know her and she got to know me. People are making it a bigger deal than what it is."

And though she is staying mum about what exactly set her off to lash out at the person she's been advising on love, it definitely seems like their working relationship is over.

"I spoke to her after the show," she said. "That's it, and we aren't besties. We did our job for the show. This is what it was. I had to find her a man and she had to listen."

Ultimately, Smalls hopes that women with huge lists of what they want from a man understand that there will be some things that are more important than others.

"He could have a big ding-ding, but no job," she stated.

She also urges women who find a man they love to maintain a hobby.

"A lot of times, women get a man and lose their whole self. You got to keep yourself and a hobby. That's the main thing women need to do."

Smalls said she won't be playing professional matchmaker anytime soon.

"People are writing [me saying] they will pay me to hook them up," she laughed. "I'm not a matchmaker. I'm just trying to tell her real advice, but [maybe it is] something I should look into. They think I'm the black Patti [Stanger] now. "

In addition to building a new Web site, TionnaSmallsOnline.com, she's opening a "diva store" called Lovey's in Brooklyn, which will be filled with her signature hats, jewelry and bags.

Smalls is behind the scenes working on a few television ventures and plans to re-release her book 'Girl, Get Your Mind Right' with a major publisher later this year.



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