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10 Quick Questions for TLC’s Chilli and T-Boz

Best-selling artists relive career highs and lows in ‘TLC Forever’ documentary

spinner image chilli and t-boz dressed in white sitting next to each other; chilli has arm around t-boz
Dennis Leupold/A&E

TLC burst onto the scene in the early 1990s with chart-topping songs like “Waterfalls” and “No Scrubs” that pushed boundaries and spoke to the social issues of the day.  The trio sold more than 85 million records and scored four Grammy awards. Now, the story of Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, 53, Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, 52, and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, who died tragically in a 2002 car crash, is chronicled in the Lifetime documentary TLC Forever. And T-Boz and Chilli are once again taking to the stage on a summer concert tour across the U.S. and Canada. 

You share some intimate career and personal moments in this documentary. What was it like to relive those?

Chilli: It was so much fun and brought back a lot of memories. It was warm and fuzzy. We had the heartstring moments. Some of the stuff I totally had forgotten about. It was really nice to see all of that and to see us having so much fun, because we were pranksters. I mean, we still are, but we don’t do it as much as we did back then. We were just a ball of fun.

spinner image t-boz and chilli next to words a lifetime documentary, t l c forever, saturday, june 3rd 8 - 7 central, lifetime, a and e
The Lifetime documentary “TLC Forever” provides an insider view of the group's highs and lows.
Dennis Leupold/A&E

What do you think will be the most surprising revelation in TLC Forever for superfans?

Chilli: That’s a good question. … You know what? It just popped up in my head. It’s when they see T-Boz crying.

T-Boz: I hate to cry.

Chilli: Yeah, ’cause you never see that. They’ve seen me cry a bit, but not T. Not ever. But that time [in the documentary], yes.

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What is your favorite TLC song and why?

T-Boz: I don’t have a favorite TLC song per se, but “Case of the Fake People” is one of my favorite songs on our albums. I wish it could have been a single.

Chilli: It’s forever “Hat 2 Da Back.” I love that song so much because it really shows the dynamics of the group. T-Boz comes in with the low voice, I come in and hit all the high notes and Lisa raps. It’s so us. It was “CrazySexyCool” before “CrazySexyCool.”

You mentioned Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. Can you share a favorite memory of her?

spinner image chilli holding trophy alongside t-boz, and lisa left eye lopes in front of backdrop that says the video music awards
Chilli, T-Boz and Left Eye formed TLC in 1989 and became a best-selling American girl group.
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Chilli: We accomplished so much when she was here. But I miss everything about Lisa. Just how she used to joke around and how creative she was in the studio. We all collaborated together, but Lisa was very, very talented when it came to stuff like that. That artistry side of her — it was amazing.

T-Boz: I just miss her, period. But some of the funniest times were when we used to have food fights in the studio. Chilli never wanted to play. I miss those times. Running down the hallway, ding-dong ditching — knocking on people’s doors and running — stuff like that. Just all the good times and all the laughter. I miss all that.

T-Boz, you were diagnosed with sickle cell anemia and have worked to raise awareness of the disease. Do you have advice for someone going through a health challenge?

T-Boz: I want patients to know they are their biggest advocate. You have to understand your body to convey that to a doctor. It’s so important to get the right doctor who has the right bedside manners. If you don’t find one, keep looking until you do, because that can be the saving grace to save your life. And don’t ever think a disease defines you. That’s not who you are, it’s just something you have.

Chilli, do you have any advice for supporting a loved one going through something tough?

Chilli: Honestly, I think that number one, you just have to know the person and how they may want help or not. Some people, you call, you check, you ask questions or whatever. But T, she knows if she needs me for anything, I will do it. No matter what it is. I don’t care what I’m doing. I will drop it all and I will be there for her. I think the most important part is just letting them know that you’re there, and if they need you, you’re going to make it happen.

Both of you are moms. Has motherhood impacted your music and artistry?

T-Boz: I think it has, because when you’re happy and your home life is awesome, it just makes other aspects of your life better. Kids are so pure and so loving. No matter what goes on and what kind of bad day you had, they can brighten your day just by looking at them. That’s something special that kids possess.

Any advice for staying youthful and fit as you age?

T-Boz: We drink a lot of water. No alcohol, no smoking and I’ll let you [Chilli] say the rest.

Chilli: OK, so I’ll add caffeine on there, none of that. You just have to eat right and work out. If you don’t move, you get stiff. I don’t care what it is. If you love dancing, then let that be the way that you exercise. I think a lot of people don’t work out because it just doesn’t seem fun. Stay on top of your facials. Find yourself a really good esthetician. Get some sleep, try to be stress-free as possible. You can’t get you a man that’s going to stress you out, ladies. It’ll age you.

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You have collaborated with some major artists. Is there anyone on your wish list?

Chilli: Bruno Mars. Tionne feels the same way.

T-Boz: I do.

What advice would you give your younger selves?

Chilli: I would say the best advice I would give my younger self is that it’s business, not personal. Don’t take it personal.

T-Boz: I’m just happy I learned from my mistakes. I don’t know what I would tell my younger self, because I think it made me who I am. Everything happens for a reason. If you know better, you do better. And when something happened to me, it only needed to happen once, honey. I got it the first time.

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