Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas spent a season fishing for a man on a VH1 show.
At the end of season one, the Atlanta-based TLC singer reeled in a guy named Bill who seemed to have all the elements most women appreciate – handsome, smart, confident, sweet, funny.
But when I heard last spring that a second season was coming, it became obvious: Bill was not the one. (Perhaps if he had been, the next season would have been renamed “What Chilli Found.”)
Chilli’s reality show search for a man is obviously opportunistic from a career standpoint. Higher exposure from TV may help jump start her music career, as well as pay a few bills. (Reality shows have helped fellow R&B singers Monica, Fantasia and Kandi Burruss.) Taped in the fall in Atlanta and in other cities such as Miami and New York, season two debuts Sunday, January 2 at 9:30 p.m. This season will have eight episodes.
She generated buzz by having an extensive list of demands: washboard abs, smokin’ hot, no drinking, no smoking, religious, possessing a big package and no pork eating (though the pork is not a deal breaker.) Those eight episodes and a flurry of bad dates did not make her narrow her list. Instead, it got longer.
“Honesty is key,” Chilli said in an interview in early December at her favorite Ethiopian place Cottage, off Piedmont Ave. “I don’t know why that wasn’t on the list in the first place. You have to be very specific.”
She admitted there were critics who felt she was being too picky. She remains unapologetic. “There’s nothing wrong with holding out for what you feel you deserve. I know who I am as a woman.”
Another change: Chilli had more say in who relationships expert Tionna Smalls helped select as possible mates. “No more blind dates!” she said. By having more say in the process, Chilli was able to reduce the friction between the two that permeated season one, she said. “I stopped arguing with her,” Smalls said.
Chilli also makes her desire for another child very clear. At age 39, she realizes her biological clock is ticking loudly.
Did she find her man? She won’t say, of course. “It’s a nice journey we’re on together,” she said cryptically. “Nearing to the end, I’m just being very real. I can’t help it. I’ve very outspoken.”
Overall, Chilli enjoyed doing the show. “Being in my group [TLC], we’re such strong advocates of being strong and independent,” said Chilli “But the show also shows that I can get hurt. I can be in relationships that don’t work out.”
Why did she drop Bill? “He’s a very nice guy but to me, it’s wrong to keep someone around just because they’re a good person. If someone is good for me, I have to be good for them. I don’t think we were right for each other.”
In the screener I sampled of the January 2 episode, Chilli is once again being wooed by her friend and boxer Floyd Mayweather, who buys her $14,000 earrings at a local Ross Simons, then takes her to dinner. Smalls then brings a new man she hopes Chilli will like, a race-car driver from Brazil named Raphael Matos.
Mayweather, to Smalls, “is a distraction,” Chilli admits. “We’ve dated for like five seconds. But he and I have had four years of friendship under our belt. It’s a flirty friendship, not a regular friendship between man and woman. But we’ve never slept together.”
Smalls calls Mayweather a “fun guy you can mess with but not someone I would try to wife up.”
Interestingly, Chilli was downright chaste in season one with nary a real kiss. “No sex, no kissing,” Smalls mused. “No nothing! Just a lot of talking. But I guess people appreciated the real.”
Chilli got more flak from the black community for selecting from two white guys in the final season one episode. “People – including myself – were annoyed,” Smalls admitted, though she appreciated Chilli’s open-mindedness in terms of dating different races.
Check our the video interview here:
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog