There aren’t many women who can say that they were the first at anything. Then again, there aren’t many women who are like Tionna Smalls. The 28-year-old East New York native can now add history-maker to her long list of accomplishments. As a self-proclaimed S.O.O.B.W. (we’ll get to that later), Smalls is the first African American female to have her own show on MTV. The 20-episode series, appropriately titled Girl, Get Your Mind Right, is set to air on Monday night (May 20 at 6 p.m.), and Smalls could not be more excited.
“It feels wonderful. It’s unreal,” Smalls says. “I have always been obsessed with the entertainment industry. I was that girl who spent her money on all the magazines–J-14, Word Up!, Right On!–and I was known to write in if I didn’t like something.”
The little girl with dreams of celebrity is now a bonafide relationship expert, author, business owner, dating coach and television host. You may remember her as the tell-it-like-it-is counter part of VH1’s What Chili Wants in 2010. But after doing “A milli with Chili,” Tionna’s ready to start doing things on her terms.
On her new reality TV spot, she shows young women how to get the love they deserve, while maintaining their own self-respect and standards. “I love mentoring the girls, but I’m like an older sister. If you want the advice with fluff, go ask ya’ mama. I say what everyone else is too afraid to say.”
Her loyal fan base keeps it real with her too. A quick scroll through her Twitter mentions or Instagram comments reveals that Smalls’ fan base is one of a kind. “One of them called me a S.O.O.B.W. the other day. It means Self Obsessed Overweight Black Woman. I thought about it, fell in love with it, and I’ve been running with it ever since.”
Most people would take that comment as an insult, but this small quip is a testament to how much Tionna values the truth, no matter how blunt it is. “I am overweight, I am black, and I do love myself,” she said, pointing to the I Love Me tattoo she dawns on her left wrist. “I don’t take it as a negative thing. At the end of the day, they just want to see me win.”
Oprah too. Just as the interview came to a close, Tionna speaks about her story in the Daily News. Lady O’s picture is below hers, and in a very peculiar way, Oprah seems to be looking up at Tionna with a proud and welcoming expression. Tionna says in awe, “Tell me that isn’t symbolic.”
Is it a sign of an epic 2013, where Smalls will release a new book, complete a screenplay and promote the new talent from her Talk Dat Ish publishing company?
Shoot. If Oprah approves of the plan, so do we. — Gia Peppers