Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas believes “I was built to be someone’s wife.” However, in order to find her husband, he must make the grade. He can’t drink. He can’t smoke. He can’t eat pork, or have more than two baby mamas. He must be fine, with at least a four-pack. Last, but definitely not least, he must have a really huge p…package. What?!? Do men like this even really exist? The beautiful singer/songwriter Chilli seems to think so. Every Sunday night at 10:30 EST, Chilli attempts to find him on her reality series “What Chilli Wants” on VH1. The “C” in the all-girl group TLC, makes no apologies for her laundry list of standards she calls the “Chilli Checklist,” while her matchmaker, author Tionna Smalls provides Chilli with some much-needed assistance in finding a boo. Thomas talks to ESSENCE.com about when she created the list, how Usher was instrumental in changing it, and how Floyd Mayweather, even with almost every quality on her list, is just a, um, *cough*…friend. ESSENCE.com: The show is called “What Chilli Wants,” but if you are looking for a long-term relationship, shouldn’t it be what you need? ROZONDA “CHILLI” THOMAS: Well, my wants and needs are completely different. Like, I want a guy who doesn’t drink, but I need a guy who doesn’t smoke. In my wants area, I’ll compromise, but not my needs. ESSENCE.com: The woman who is assisting you as your matchmaker on the show, Tionna Smalls, how challenging was it working with her? CHILLI: We are very opposite, but I had to put my trust in her. Tionna shoots straight from the hip, and all my inner-circle of friends are like-minded about relationships, agreeing more than we disagree. So to get someone who is totally different from myself to show me another way with another perspective, it was challenging. ESSENCE.com: Talk about this “Chilli’s Checklist,” why a list? CHILLI: A list will keep you from making a lot of mistakes, although I know it’s impossible to avoid all of them. It’s like we all go through experiences, and a list helps you remember to smell the trouble as it comes around the corner. ESSENCE.com: When was it created and how has the list changed over the years? CHILLI: It’s gotten longer (laughs). I started the list in my 20s, an age when you make a lot of mistakes as you’re still learning about yourself and men. So, as I got older, I learned from the mistakes and figured out what I liked. I encourage younger women to keep their legs closed, but not worry about being committed. Date who you like to see what you like. At 25, instead of compromising some of the things I wanted, I compromised who I was a person, giving up too much too quickly. Now I know to preserve it, so [men] can appreciate it more. ESSENCE.com: So far the show has mentioned six or so things on your list. Is there any more we should know of? CHILLI: I love a silly man, can’t be with a quiet guy, and he has to love the Lord. ESSENCE.com: Speaking of the Lord, do you think you may miss out on finding your man being so specific with your checklist? CHILLI: God knows the desires of our heart, and before I even had a list I prayed and asked God to show me what exactly it is that I need. God’s plan will always be the bigger plan. ESSENCE.com: You’ve never dated anyone that doesn’t meet your list’s criteria? CHILLI: I have and it was a disaster! ESSENCE.com: Hmmm..so did Usher measure up to the list? Everything on the list, Ms. Chilli? CHILLI: (Laughs) Aww man…he helped to reform and reshape the list. During that relationship, I found out the things I really needed, and without going into a lot of detail, I can check off a whole lot on my list. ESSENCE.com: So do you miss the relationship you and Usher had? CHILLI: I’m not answering that question. ESSENCE.com: Okay, sure. Do you and Usher still speak? CHILLI: We’re not enemies, I’ll leave it at that…no bad blood. ESSENCE.com: I’m getting shut down on this topic. Still everyone continues to want you and Usher back together… CHILLI: It surprises me that people still say that, I hear it at least four times a week. ESSENCE.com: Four times a week, that says something. Would it be possible to ever rekindle your relationship with him? CHILLI: I don’t try to think about the past, I’m on another journey now. ESSENCE.com: I hear that. Does that journey include Pretty Boy Floyd? Are you two really just buddies? CHILLI: We’re friends, and not the type of friends that sleep together or have seen each others’ body parts. We are truly friends. I’m comfortable in that area, I don’t want to ruin a great friendship. Yes, there’s an attraction you can’t deny, but if we cross that line we can’t come back to where we are right now. ESSENCE.com: The ball’s in your court, so to speak. If you wanted more, you and Floyd would be more than friends? CHILLI: Probably so. ESSENCE.com: I don’t get it. CHILLI: I know, I know. I’m just trying to be cautious, maybe one day. He has a lot of the qualities [I like], I’ll tell you that. Mmmhmm, the really good ones. ESSENCE.com: I respect you, your standards, and that you haven’t given up on love. You’re proudly still searching for love. What do you say to women who are getting older, harboring bitterness and resentment, and have yet to find the one? CHILLI: That ages you. I was an angry Black woman when I was younger. When you become bitter, you’re giving all those negative experiences the power to take you into a funk. Know yourself, both the good and the bad, and then figure out what you really like. Related stories:
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