It’s been over 20 years since one of the best-selling girl groups of all time, TLC, blasted on the scene and commanded our attention with their undeniable spunk, flavor and message. Group member Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins had many battles to fight outside of music. The entertainer was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia early in life, and was told by doctors that she couldn't have kids and that she wouldn’t live past 30-years-old. A fighter in her own right, T-Boz, beat the odds and is in the process of re-inventing and re-introducing herself to the world via reality TV and upcoming music. Check out our sit down with T-Boz and see why she has "tough skin."
Turning to Reality TV: Well I just got back on my feet after losing my sight, my balance, my hearing and my speech and I‘ve been the kind of person where, I’m an open book about the things I want the people to know and whatever is not your business is not your business. I feel God Spared me so if I can help someone along the way and have fun doing it. I’m not doing anything willy nilly, there’s a lot of people that can gain something and hopefully learn something from it. Another reason is that I know technology has advanced so much and it has helped me so if I can help someone, it is a wonderful thing.
A lot of my life will come out during the show, everyone knows me as a singer/dancer, but that is not the only thing that I do. So you will know more about me in depth because there’s a lot of things people didn’t know, like I write songs for other artists, I am a single mother, that alone is a job within itself. My true fans know my personality, but I’ve always been outspoken, they may know me from the apprentice, which I did to help children suffering from Sickle Cell. That is one thing people should take from this show is that I am the same chick I’ve always been, I crack jokes and I like to have a good time. It’s not one of those where I’m trying to be anyone else. I still have some ghetto ways, I’m outspoken and I will say what is on my mind, I am multi-faceted, but if the show isn’t for you then it is just not for you.
I’ve turned down shows that I felt didn’t have any substance to do something on my own terms. I do know that I would have to give a little because it is Reality TV, but I am not compromising my character, morals, integrity. I am not conforming to anything! If that is the case, go get somebody else. TLC was the only network that was interested in doing something positive and wanted to share my story and give me a voice and avenue to showcase it. This opportunity fell in my lap, I didn’t have to do a pilot. I have 4 one hour episodes on primetime network, that’s a blessing. So I said let’s go! I felt like God spared me and I got back everything. Living with Sickle Cell, I superseded everything they said I would do. They said I wouldn’t live past the age of 30, they said I wouldn’t have children, my daughter is 12 and they said I would be disabled and I traveled the world, so for me honestly, God has the last say so in my life and that is how I look at everything. I don’t have time to die, I have stuff to do, I have a story to tell and that is the least I can do.
Being Strong & Moving Forward: I am in the entertainment business not just the music business. I don’t think people understand what I went through when I was in TLC and what it took for me to get on stage. I don’t really share that much on the show but more of that topic will come out through the years. I have another book coming out. I’m the kind of person to leave things where its at, like when I was in the hospital, after I left, I left everything in the hospital.
Fighting Alone: I think people need to realize that people are people. When I was going through my struggle no one I sold records for or worked with was there when I was fighting for my life, fighting for my heart to beat. Those people were not there. You will be amazed about how much I do not care about trivial things. You do the math, fighting for my life or worried about singing and dancing in a video…..hmm…what do you think is important. I just want to pay it forward to someone else, if I can help someone then I have done my job.
Tough Skin: I used to hate speaking in front of people; talking on camera was a challenge. It’s funny because I can sing and dance onstage. However, the funny thing is that you never know what might come out of my mouth. I try to make my mother proud, but she knows how I can get. I’m not easily influenced, I never did the peer pressure thing, that’s just me…when people say crazy things to me, I’m not bothered by it, I’m really laughing at them. When you have fought for your life you will fight for anything, therefore, it takes more than a little comment to rattle me. I got tough skin.
Moving to LA: Transitioning from Atlanta to LA has been really good for my career. My daughter enjoys it because her dad is here; she is here with her siblings so she is having a ball. My daughter is from LA, now me…If my child is happy then I am happy, but let me let you know now…I am not really the LA type. It’s been a unique experience for real, I’m just not that Hollywood type you know..it’s different. But I’m the kind of person to get in where I fit in and make it do what it do, so I will make it work.
Taking Advantage of Hollywood: I moved to LA when I got married, It’s been real different, I’m not gonna lie, but I am a go getter. I write movies so I went for it. 'ATL' was the first movie I executive produced and it was partially about my life. I got my foot in the door. I want to do more things and I wanted to pursue other things in life. Like I said, I am more than just a singer…I have other things that I need to do. I’ve done the books, choreography for TLC and with Usher. I am a dreamer and I go after my dreams no matter how old I am. I am realistic. It is a talent to know you don’t have talent. I’ve got talent and I know when I’m wack! If you really think you can, then try because you will never know if you don’t try. I don’t do anything unless I will be able to do it well. But if that ever happens to me, I will be the first person to say, “Well hey I sucked” and I will know I don’t have talent in that area. That is a Watkins Family trait, we will tell you if you are wack. If you are a Yes person, that will get you fired. I need the truth, I need someone to tell me I’m tripping and trust me, my mother will pull my coat tail.
Getting Back to Music: I am releasing a single called “Champions” and it is dedicated to anyone that has been through any trials and tribulations and to those champions that live with blood disorders like me. The proceeds would go to anyone of those charities such as Lupus, Cancer, Leukemia, etc. I want to do things like that! It will be fun and also incorporates what I do as a musician and it is from my heart. I would like to mix those worlds together. Now as far as my solo music, you will hear more of me and more about me. I’ve worked with a lot of people already like Lil Wayne, Raheem DeVaughn, my brother KO, JHart; he is amazing writer. I’ve been writing so much. I’ve been working with a lot of producers and hoping to get a TLC song. I’m going to do music for the VH1 Biopic for TLC. They are doing a movie about our life so we have to re-sing some old TLC hits.
Playing Her on Screen: I have no idea who I would want to play me at this point, I don’t know if I can play me (laughs). I really don’t know. I am just worried about who is going to dance like me. The only girl that I know who can dance better than me is a choreographer name Jamaica. I won’t say that about many females.
Favorite Rapper: I really don’t have a favorite rapper, but I respect the hell out of Drake and Wayne, they are so talented and they come up with these metaphors. Kanye’s beats right now…I can’t even deny those songs..”Clique” – I just love it. When I heard "Flashing Lights"…crazy. Tupac and Biggie would have to come first though, they will always be my top choices.
Favorite Dance: My favorite dance is “Geeking” Atlanta style.
Creeping: I’m not a cheater, but the song [Creep] was about me – It’s the truth. I didn’t think it was creeping because I told my ex-boyfriend…‘like this guy couldn’t be in no position if you was at where you was supposed to be at.’ So I don't think I'm a cheater.
Scrubs: There are scrubs! If it is a spade then call it a spade. I’m just telling the truth.
Life Without Lefteye: Its different! You just have to keep living and move on. We started a dream and I can’t start something and not finish it. Besides, I have a child to feed and that is my job. She is always with us and never will she be forgotten or replaced, EVER!!
To Know: I am the national spokesperson for Sickle Cell Anemia.