Rozonda Ocelean "Chilli" Thomas (born February 27, 1971), is an American singer, songwriter, actress and television personality who rose to fame in the early and late 1990s as a member of group TLC, one of the best-selling girl groups of all time.
Rozonda Ocelean Thomas was born in Atlanta, Georgia and graduated from Benjamin E. Mays High School in Southwest Atlanta in 1989. Her father, Abdul Ali, is of Middle Eastern and East Indian descent and her mother, Ava Thomas, is of African American and Native American descent. Thomas, who had been raised by her mother, later allowed the Sally Jessy Raphael television talk show to air footage of her meeting her father for the first time in 1996.
Thomas was first a dancer for Damian Dame. In 1991, she joined TLC, replacing founding member Crystal Jones, and was nicknamed "Chilli" by Lisa Lopes so that the group could retain the name TLC. The group went on to sell over 65 million records worldwide and became the second best selling group in the world and first in the US girl groups of all-time. Chilli has won four Grammy Awards for her work with TLC.
Since the death of group member Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes in April 2002, Thomas and Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins have occasionally performed as a duo. In 2009, Thomas and Watkins performed a series of concerts in Asia, and are currently planning a possible new album and tour.
In late 2011, VH1 announced plans to produce a biopic on TLC to air in 2013. Thomas and Watkins have signed on as producers. Actress and singer Keke Palmer portrayed Thomas in CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story.
Thomas began working on her solo album in 2000 after the completion of promotion for TLC's third album, FanMail (1999). She ceased production when work began on the next TLC album, 3D (2002). In 2006, rumors of having signed a four-album deal with singer/rapper Akon's label Kon Live Distribution in 2006, she later denied these reports and confirmed that she was entertaining offers from other record labels. It was confirmed that the name of the album would be titled Bi-Polar, but due to scheduling conflicts and constant delays, the album was shelved. The album was once rumored to include work by Missy Elliott as well as tracks produced by T-Pain and Tricky Stewart. Certain tracks that were intended for the album were leaked from 2006 to 2008. A track titled "Gameproof," which featured her TLC band mate T-Boz, was leaked in spring 2006. On February 16, 2007, "Straight Jack," a track featuring Missy Elliott and produced by Polow da Don was leaked. The track entered the Deutsche Black Chart in at #35. In early April 2008, Thomas's first official solo single, "Dumb, Dumb, Dumb" was released. No further singles have been announced or leaked.
In 2012, Thomas appeared as the leading lady in R&B singer Tyrese's music video for his single "Nothing On You."
Acting & television roles:
Thomas made guest appearances on television shows such as The Parkers, That 70s Show, Living Single and Strong Medicine. In 1992, she made a brief cameo in the video for "Jump" by Kriss Kross. In 2000, she was featured in the made-for-television movies A Diva's Christmas Carol, Love Song (with Monica), and in the film Snow Day. In 2001, she co-starred in the action film Ticker, directed by Albert Pyun. She also played a small role in the 1998 film Hav Plenty. In 2011, Thomas made cameo appearances throughout the first season of VH1's Single Ladies. She appeared again on the show's second season performing her unreleased track, "Flirt," written by Tiyon "TC" Mack and produced by Soundz.
In June 2009, VH1 announced the airing of a reality series starring Thomas. The series, What Chilli Wants, which documents Thomas's quest to find love and manage her life with the help of love and relationship expert Tionna Tee Smalls, premiered on April 11, 2010. The second season of What Chilli Wants premiered on January 2, 2011.
In 2013, Thomas became a member of "Team Guy" on the second season of Food Network's Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off. She also appeared naked in a PETA anti-circus ad campaign. Thomas also appeared on episode 14 of WWE Countdown where she spoke about The Rock.
At age 20, she became pregnant by producer Dallas Austin. Due to career aspirations, and the outside pressures, she aborted the pregnancy; on her show, What Chilli Wants, she would reveal having regretted the decision. Thomas and Austin continued their relationship, and would later have one son, Tron Austin (born June 2, 1997). Following Thomas's breakup with Austin, she became involved with singer Usher (and was featured in his music videos for "U Remind Me" and "U Got It Bad.") The couple broke up in January 2004. She also markets a line of handbags titled, 'Bags by Chilli.'