To say that Tionna Smalls is a jane-of-all-trades would be an understatement. Some people have a hard time characterizing the author/TV personality/relationship expert/film maker. But she has NO PROBLEM categorizing herself…or quite to the contrary, feeling that she doesn’t need to categorize herself at all. She is everything! We caught up with fierce kitty to get the deets on her new projects and talk a little girl talk because aside from being a media mogul, she’s just a good ‘ole around the way girl.
“I’m a mini media mogul. I’ve been into the entertainment industry and basically obsessed with it since I was a child so to be in it now is just natural for me” she said.”I’m like your everyday homegirl, you know…I still walk to the store, no bra on if I have to (laughs). I’m just me.”
After years of experience she is wise beyond her years and as confident as they come…a trait that is sometimes hard to find in women who don’t fit the Hollywood mold of being rail thin.
“Being a thicker girl doesn’t change anything in my life. I’m still ‘gon bag the cutest dudes, I’m ‘gon still be the cutest girl when I walk in the room. That’s how I feel. I have confidence and I want that to exude in any product that I’m doing.”
And that’s exactly what she did when she launched Tasty Plus Size Boutique featuring sizes 12-24.
“I want people to wear Tasty and say you know I’m a bigger girl but I’m popping in these streets. I’m happy that things are changing in the world. Bigger girls are getting a lot more confident. I don’t want girls walking around like I’m a bigger girl so I gotta pay a man’s bills for him to mess with me.”
And paying bills to get or keep a man is not something that this fab chica will ever do.
“A lot of people have lost their minds. There are not a lot of morals out here in the world. I think that people are crazier now. However, I think that it’s all about taking your time and getting to know people and also cutting people out when they do stuff because what you put up with in the beginning is going to be your downfall in the end…women are so lonely right now that they’re accepting anything. Like ‘I’d rather have a piece of man than no man’, but a piece of anything is nothing. Like when you’re mad hungry and somebody gives you a little piece of a burger. Are you really full? Did you really eat?”
After appearing on VH1’s What Chilli Wants. MTV’s Girl Get Your Mind Right, Bethanny, Bill Cunningham, The Today Show and more, Tionna is definitely ready to be back on the small screen but it has to be right.
“I’m not the kind of girl to do anything for a check. I’m not gonna be disrespected on television. I’m gonna get everything I deserve so it takes me a little longer to get shows because if you want a show with substance and quality and you refuse to work with trashy producers it’s gonna take you a little longer….great things take time.”
“No one can hire me as talent at this point in my career. You have to hire me as a company. I have some of those gross receipts at this point. There’s not a lot of people who have those gross receipts just to let you know. Especially black people. You’ve gotta remember we’re still black in this game. When you’re black in this game, the game and the rules change.”
With a personality like Tionna’s, the possibilities seem endless but according to her the pickings are slim because she refuses to dum down to be on television.
“I’m not gonna be an animal on television so I’m gonna just wait my turn.”
You’d think it would be easier for someone as established as Tionna but she knows that people don’t always recognize the work you’ve put in.
“No matter how much you do, sometimes you don’t get the credit you deserve until you do something that’s bigger than what people ever saw for you.”
Her next move may be the “bigger” that she’s talking about. Tionna says she’s “pregnant” with the biggest “baby of her career” when speaking about her new film “Brooklyn Bred”, which she wrote in six days after a night of insomnia.
“It’s 25 years after ‘Do The Right Thing’ and Spike Lee did an incredible job sharing his experience as to what he felt Brooklyn was. But as we all know, 25 years later Brooklyn is a whole different type of animal.
Brooklyn Bred is the story of Nayshawn “Nay” Davis, a young man who experiences love and loss over a summer in Brooklyn, New York. The film has been in the works for about two years but after radio personality and entrepreneur Angela Yee signed on as a producer of the film, things are speeding up quickly. People like Yee who believe in her vision is important to Tionna because the love is genuine. She’s learned that everybody isn’t going to support you regardless of how good the product is.
“A lot of people that feel you gotta be fake to make it…I would be way more successful if was a little fake, a little less talkative, but I don’t care. I’m at the point in my life where I sleep with me and the ones who keep me going are my fans, those that support me. It’s not Hollywood that keeps me moving. You have to be very strong because this business was not meant for the weak.”
What separates her from everyone else? She says it’s her fearlessness.
“What makes me dangerous is that I’m not afraid to lose. Call me anything but you can never call me untalented.”
After almost a decade in the entertainment industry she has enough experience to write a book. And she will. In “You Gotta Lose to Win” Tionna will talk about her experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly and how she has remained a force in what can be a tricky industry.
“Everybody loves you when you’re on, but after not having a show for a year the calls can stop coming. You have to be able to stay afloat. I talk about that in the book.”
Those experiences have only made her stronger and have helped to discover what being successful really is…for her.
“Everybody isn’t gonna be a Beyonce. But it’s good to be a Monica too. She’s my fave in the business. She lives a good life. She got a fine man, got kids and makes money doing what she loves to do on her own terms. That’s makes her just as successful as Beyonce if you ask me. Don’t allow people to determine what success is to you.”
These days it looks like Tionna won’t have time to think about being successful or anything else. The last few years have been sweet to her and it looks like her future will be even sweeter.
Find out more about Brooklyn Bred at BrooklynBredFilm.com