It is just minutes after 9a.m. on the morning of Saturday, November 15 in Atlanta, Georgia and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas is wide-awake. Over the phone, we trade our “good mornings” and I remind her that today is the 20th anniversary of TLC’s CrazySexyCool, one of the most important albums in pop culture. The trio made history with that release as the first girl group to go diamond with over 10 million sales. She takes it in, noting “time does fly by when you’re an adult.
“I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Chilli more than once, most recently in person at the wrap party for TLC’s VH1 biopic, “CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story.” I was truly impressed with how Chilli wore her then-42 years. It was hard to believe that the woman whose videos I played incessantly growing up was in her 40s: She appeared as if she had been drinking copious amounts of Holy water from the fountain of youth. Unassuming and with an affable spirit, we chatted like old girlfriends that night. At the sound of her own music, Chilli would rise and dance like a teenager — not missing a single beat.When we chatted last month to commemorate the 20th anniversary of CrazySexyCool, Chilli discussed how the women of TLC stayed fit during their heyday, revealed her beauty regimens and why at 43, she’s not giving up on having a baby:
YouBeauty: Congratulations on the 20th anniversary of CrazySexyCool! You all had the most amazing music videos back then. Let’s talk about the aesthetics of the 1994 “Creep” video. Whose idea was it to sport those trend-setting silk pajamas?
Chilli: The director Matthew Rolston, it was his idea. He’s amazing, I remember we shot two videos for “Creep” and [the first one] was not good, it didn’t show any growth for us [as women]. We were with L.A. Reid (the founder of LaFace Records) and the “Whatta Man” music video by Salt-N-Pepa featuring En Vogue came on. The video was so dope and beautiful and we were, like, Whoever shot this video, [we wanted them to do ours]!
Let’s talk about your signature hairstyles. Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins had the sideburns while you and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes were more natural.
When we first came out, my hair was always in the curly-wavy look, which was my natural hair and then I would wear it straight, mostly during our first album. Until I realized I was using too much heat to get it straight, so I just started wearing it the way it natural was — curly. Out of the three of us, I was the safe one when it came to hairstyles. I kind of wear the same style. that’s just me, I don’t really change that much.But T-Boz, she would play more with different styles and Left Eye too, but Left Eye’s signature hairstyle was always with bangs because she thought she had a big forehead (laughs) then when she got older she didn’t care and wore her hair however. T-Boz always had her sideburns. That hairstyle is one that our hairstylist Marie Davis-Brown helped her to achieve.
You guys were so fit back then (and still are)! What were your exercise regimens like?
Well, we dance like boys. We don’t dance like girls and we go real hard. So our working out really was rehearsal, because we dance so much and our dances, they look easy but they are not really easy. We sweat (laughs), which is a form of working out. That’s how we stayed in shape.
What is your exercise regimen like now?
I don’t work out to look a certain way. For the most part I just want to be healthy and keep my bones moving, because when you stop, everything stops, and then it doesn’t work so well because you’re not staying active. I just want to stay active because I want to be as healthy as I can be.
Are you a vegan or vegetarian?
No, but I do eat vegetarian food and I don’t eat pork or a lot of sweets.
Do you cook? What’s your favorite healthy meal?
Yes, but I don’t fry anything, I bake everything! It’s a lifestyle for me. I’m apart of the Beachbody family which is a company that has P90X, Insanity, the 21 Day Fix program that just recently came out and the Brazil Butt Lift workout, that’s the one I just did an infomercial for because I love that workout (laughs).Beachbody also has this shake called Shakeology. It’s a meal replacement [and] it’s so amazingly good for you: One scoop is equivalent to all the vegetables, fruits, and proteins that you need for a whole day. It’s everything.
How do you handle stress?
Stress is poison, I’m not the type to workout to relieve stress; that’s not a big stress reliever for me, but I work out because I need to. I don’t get that stressed out anymore. I mean, I can get stressed out, but it doesn’t last as long as it would back in the day. [Stress] could be [from] something I have no control over — if I don’t understand something, I pray more and ask God for clarity and if it something I can do something about, I realize I have to work harder or be more aggressive, something can be done. I don’t allow stress to wear me out.
What’s your favorite go-to beauty product?
Oils! A lot of oils. There are different little concoctions that you can do. You can mix coconut oil with sesame oil. With coconut oil, you can do a treatment, put it on your scalp, all over your hair, let it sit on there for hours. Sesame oil is really good for a lot of things; it has a lot of healing agents in it. Castor oil is very good to promote hair growth, too. There are a lot of different oils that are good for helping the scalp become healthier. [The pores in your] scalp can get congested, so try to keep it healthy. Also you have to digest healthy foods, which will help with healthy hair.
Unrefined, cold-pressed coconut oil is good for everything. You can eat it, cook with it, and put it on your skin. I don’t really get pimples, but once in a while I’ll get something. Once I have washed my face and exfoliated at night, I use products from Derm Exclusive — they have very good exfoliating glycolic pads, you want to exfoliate, you always want that dead layer to get out of there. Afterwards, you should then apply coconut oil on your face and go to sleep. Let your body take it in. It’s one of the few oils that won’t clog your pores — your body will drink it up.Coconut oil is my go-to product for hair and Derm Exclusive is apart of my facial regimen and also a multivitamin. I am currently taking Mane Choice for healthy hair. I like it a lot.
Most of the times, it never seems like you’re wearing much makeup.
When I’m not working, I don’t use any foundation powders at all, no base. If you take care of your skin and body, your complexion will be even and therefore you won’t need all of that. When I go out, I just put on blush. I love my green eyeliner, which is my favorite (laughs). I have different shades. I have different shades of green, and I do lipsticks and lipglosses and that’s it. I like MAC Cosmetics for my blushes and lipsticks. I go to them before anybody else.
I have been so blessed to find three women who can do my make-up, only three. And then there was one guy that I was really happy with, his name was Paul Starr and he did my makeup for the “Creep” video. Sadly, he passed away some years ago, but he really understood my face.This is the thing, everybody’s facial features are different, I am more olive and could be red, and those undertones are serious, so if you don’t understand blending, [it won’t work.] Less is more, if you put too much on me, it won’t look good.You’ve been expressing lately that you want to have another baby. At 43, are you letting the biological clock noise get to you?
No, when I was in my 30s I did. I was, like, ‘oh my gosh, my clock is ticking,’ but my Big Momma’s wise words would stick out in my head: “just keep living.” And as you keep living, you realize, you can’t say those kinds of things. As long as you’re healthy and take care of yourself [you’re good]. I mean I still have normal regular periods or as I call them ‘end of the sentences.’ (laughs)I ovulate every month; I feel it. I’m good! That’s a blessing. I’m totally still open. Halle Berry [who got pregnant at 46] is my hero. My cousin is in her early 40s and just had her first baby.
How important is it for you to find a partner who is health conscious?
Very important! I’m not going to be with someone walking around with a gut. He has to be very health-conscious, he can’t be a smoker, that’s a dealbreaker. I would love it if I could meet a guy who doesn’t drink, either — I would jump for joy.All the aforementioned products can be found on Chilli’s website, FitChilli.com.