What you see is what you get when it comes to Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins. The laidback, cool chick of the platinum-selling trio TLC has never minced her words or thoughts on any topic and she isn’t about to start now. Despite being labeled as “too quiet” on the current celebrity edition of “The Apprentice,” T-Boz assures that she had one mission: to promote and raise awareness and funds for sick cell anemia research, which she accomplished. ESSENCE.com sat down with the golden beauty to discuss why Donald Trump gave her the boot, why she isn’t hating on Beyoncé like some think, and immortalizing her life on-screen.
ESSENCE.COM: At 38, you still have what it takes, performing over in Japan and getting your swerve on. Well, you’re no longer on “The Apprentice,” and some say you were too quiet. Do you think that was a strike against you?
T-BOZ: Yeah, I know what people think. I just laugh at people’s comments because I wasn’t as quiet as they made it seem. Remember, that’s what they call “editing.” There’s a lot of stuff that folks didn’t see, but for the most part I got along with everyone once I told them what I thought, so everyone was cool.
ESSENCE.COM: (Laughs.) Uh-oh! What did we miss and how badly did you read those unsuspecting folks, Miss Tionne?
T-BOZ: (Laughs.) Annie Duke, the poker player, I told her she wasn’t a people-person and I don’t disrespect myself and that I’m not the one you want to step to like that. I promised my mama I wasn’t going to embarrass her, but I still wasn’t about to let her talk to me any old kind of way out the side of her mouth. I’m a grown-a*# woman, and we are about the same age; I just look younger. I reminded her that she had kids at home watching so she should watch what she said to me because you can’t talk to me any old kind of way. Her excuse was that she was used to being her own boss, and I explained that I’m used to be being my own boss as well but I don’t talk to my people with disrespect. It’s not what you say but how you say it, and she took it to heart and said she’d work on it.
ESSENCE.COM: (Laughs.) Poor thing. She didn’t know about you but she does now. So why do you think you were booted from the show?
T-BOZ: If you don’t keep up drama they aren’t checking for you. I wasn’t a drama queen. But I think what did me in was when I volunteered to go back in the boardroom and stick up for Melissa. When I was the project manager I won and no one had anything to say about me because my sh– was tight. I don’t play that mess when it comes to my work ethic and I was on top of everything. Donald couldn’t say anything to me except that he thought I was stiff and I’m like, Yeah well I’m not. So when I went back in the boardroom the following week he fired me. I started laughing because I’m thinking, That’s a good one, Donald, you fired me because I volunteered. I was cool with it because it was my daughter Chase’s b-day the next day and I was able to spend time with her, so it was cool. I was tired and ready to go home anyway.
ESSENCE.COM: Well, there’s been a lot of talk in the blogosphere that you were jealous of Beyoncé after making comments about Columbia Records dropping Kelly Rowland.
T-BOZ: (Laughs.) First of all, if I’m going to be jealous of anyone I’m going to be jealous of my damn self because I can’t even do TLC again because that was a phenomenal once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I can never get back. For the record, I’m not jealous of Beyoncé. I like her and Destiny’s Child, because if folks remember, TLC went on tour with them for two months when they were just starting. The blogs like to twist things and make something out of nothing. I was simply expressing my thoughts on girl groups in general and that my personal choice would never be to put myself in a situation where I’m in a group that is managed by one of the group member’s parents. I think that Mathew and Tina have done a great job, so it’s no diss to them or not taking away anything from what they’ve accomplished. I just know what would not work for me, because, at the end of the day, if a manager has a personal relationship with someone in the group they are managing, they are always going to have that person’s interest first and foremost and that’s all I was expressing.
ESSENCE.COM: So, we hear you’re going to make an appearance on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” Would you consider joining the next season?
T-BOZ: (Laughs). Hell no! I went on there for my girl Kandi Buruss [the newest cast member and writer of TLC’s hit “Scrubs”] and we just had lunch together, which is what we normally do anyway. They’ve asked me to make more appearances but for what? If Bravo wants to start leasing out some checks then that’s cool (laughs). Now, if we’re in the studio working on music together and the cameras happen to be there that’s different, but I don’t plan on making any more appearances. No, but seriously, I’m happy for Kandi and I can’t wait to see the show.
ESSENCE.COM: Well, who needs dramality TV when you’re having a film made about your life? What made you have a change of heart about doing the TLC story?
T-BOZ: I didn’t think enough time had passed when Chili and I were initially approached. It was much too soon after Left Eye’s death. I wasn’t together or focused. Now, I’m more open to it. They say time heals all wounds and I think we both are in a better place.
To read more about T-Boz, visit www.boz-bizz.com.