Rozonda Ocealen Thomas (born February 27, 1971), best known by her stage name Chilli, is an American singer, dancer and actress who rose to fame while being a part of the R&B/Hip-Hop girl group TLC.
Rozonda Ocealen Thomas was born in Atlanta, Gerogia and graduated from Benjamin E. Mays High School in Southwest Atlanta in 1989. Her father, Abdul Ali, is of Indo-Carribean 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 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" 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 girl group of all time and first in US girl groups of all time. Chilli has won five Grammy Awards for her work with TLC.
Since the death of Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes in April 2002, she 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 tour.
In late 2011, VH1 announced the development of a biopic on TLC that was set to air in 2013. Thomas and Watkins signed on as producers and actress and singer Keke Palmer was cast to portray Thomas in the film. The film, which was named CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story aired on October 21, 2013 and became the highest-rated television film premiere of 2013, as well as the highest-rated original film premiere in VH1 history, with a viewership of 4.5 million.
Thomas began working on her solo album in 2000 after promotion for TLC's third studio album FanMail had come to an end. She ceased production when TLC began working on their fourth studio album, 3D. In 2006, rumors of having signed a four-album deal with Akon's label Kon Live Distribution began to circulate. Thomas later denied these reports, stating that she has been offered record deals with other labels as well. It was confirmed that the title of her solo album would be Bi-Polar, but due to scheduling conflicts and constant delays, the album was shelved. It was once rumored to include work by Missy Elliott, as well as tracks produced by T-Pain and Tricky Stewart. Certain tracks were leaked between 2006 and 2008. A track titled "Gameproof" that featured TLC member T-Boz was leaked in spring 2006 and on February 16, 2007, a track called "Straight Jack" featuring Missy Elliott and produced by Polow da Don was leaked. The track entered the Deutsche Black Chart at #35. In early April 2008, Chilli released her first solo single "Dumb Dumb Dumb", but after that, no further singles were announced or leaked.
In 2012, Thomas appeared as the leading lady in R&B singer Tyrese's music video for his single "Nothin' On You".
Thomas made guest appearances on shows like The Parkers, That 70s Show, Living Single and Strong Medicine. In 2000, she was featured in the made-for-television movies A Diva's Christmas Carol and Love Song (with Monica) and in the film Snow Day. In 2001, she starred in the action film Ticker and even had a small role in the 1998 film Hav Plenty. In 2011, Thomas made several cameo appearances in the first season of VH1's Single Ladies and appeared again during the show's second season to perform an unreleased track called "Flirt", which was written by Tiyon "TC" Mack and produced by Soundz.
In June 2009, VH1 announced the airing of What Chilli Wants, which documented Thomas' quest to find love and manage her life with the assistance of love and relationship expert Tionna T. Smalls. It premiered on April 11, 2010 and lasted for two seasons, ending on February 27, 2011.
In 2013, Thomas became a member of "Team Guy" on the second season of Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off.
At age 20, she became pregnant by Dallas Austin, but due to career aspirations and outside pressure, Thomas had to have her pregnancy terminated; on her show, What Chilli Wants, she revealed that she regretted the decision. Thomas and Austin contiued their relationship, however, and would later have their very own son, Tron Austin (born June 2, 1997). Following Thomas and Austin's breakup, she became involved with R&B 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.