If you don’t know about 27-year-old Brooklyn native Tionna Smalls, she’s definitely one to watch in 2012. While she is not related to hip-hop legend Biggie Smalls, she has the same bravado, charm and real-talk attitude that helped her rise from humble beginnings into celebrity. Her first book, Girl, Get Your Mind Right! The Tell-It-Like-It-Is Advice Your Love Life Has Been Missing! (William Morrow Paperbacks; $12.99), landed her a role as the relationship expert on VH1’s What Chilli Wants, guiding the show’s star, platinum-selling singer and TLC member Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, in her search for love. Smalls has taken that opportunity and capitalized on it, venturing into publishing with her own company, Talk Dat Ish Books, entrepreneurship with her boutique, Loveys and a new film project.
BlackEnterprise.com sat down with the charming, boisterous, straight-talker to find out how being on reality TV changed her life, her venture into entrepreneurship and how she plans to make her brand bigger and better.
BlackEnterprise.com: Most people know you from What Chilli Wants, but you were an author first, self-publishing your book Girl Get Your Mind Right in 2007. How was being on the show helpful toiyour popularity and future success?
Tionna Smalls: After I got the role as the relationship adviser on the show , my writing career went through the roof, and I received a healthy book deal with a huge publishing company, HarperCollins. As far as popularity from the show in general, it has definitely made me a household name. I was still living in my hometown when the first season came out, and I had to move. People were following me home asking me to find them a man. It was crazy, but I love the love people have shown me since the show. It allowed me to meet many great people, and for that alone, I am thankful.
What led you to tackle the issues in Girl Get Your Mind Right, and, your latest book Men Love Abuse: The Guide to Losing the Nice Girl Image & Getting the Man You Want (Talk Dat Ish Books; $15)?
TS: My latest book is off the chain! I can’t even lie to you. It is funny, endearing, and most of all honest. It is a book that lets women know that the less you sweat or stress a man, the better off you will be when it comes down to this thing called love. … I just knew that it was time to let people know what I had in my brain. … Many people are not ready for the truth, but if they are ready for change, they will embrace all that I have to say. I am not preachy in my books; I share my trials and tribulations as well. I come from a friend perspective, so I believe that helps people embrace the advice more.