In this episode, Black Hollywood Live hosts Derrial Christon, Courtney Stewart and Jesse Janedy and interview special guest Mel B. Melanie Brown has never been a shy one, which is evidenced by her vast and ever-expanding list of accomplishments. Best known as Mel B or “Scary Spice” of the Spice Girls, she can also add author, fashion leader, television personality, stage star, philanthropist, entrepreneur and mom to her list of ever expanding credits.
From her early days growing up in Leeds, England, through her years in one of the most defining pop groups of this generation, and through such ventures as becoming a fan favorite on “Dancing With the Stars” in 2007, Mel B has earned her place in the entertainment lexicon. Doing the show earned her a vast and new American fan base with her cool, self-confident dancing style, finishing second in the contest. Mel B is always striving to do something different and always doing with a style that’s all her own.
Currently, Mel B is working diligently on season 8 of the hit NBC show “America’s Got Talent,” joining fellow judges Howard Stern, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and host Nick Cannon. As she says, “I take this judging business very seriously.”
For the last two years, she’s been in Australia filming “The X Factor,” where she joined the show in its second season as one of the four judges. In the first season, she was a guest mentor to the contestants, and it was something that was very close to her heart.
In December 2012, the documentary The Spice Girls Story: Viva Forever was released, chronicling the girls’ rise to stardom, their most memorable outfits and live moments. It gave fans of the iconic pop quintet an inside look at one of the greatest girl groups of all time.
Mel B launched her solo career in 1998 with the hit single “I Want You Back,” (featuring Missy Elliott) and marked the first time an individual Spice Girl went to #1 on the U.K. charts. Mel recalls, “This was the first time I’d even considered doing anything by myself. I was on tour with the Spice Girls when Missy Elliott called me up and said ‘Melanie, I’ve got a song for you, will you come and record it with me?’ I checked it with the girls and within a month I was out there, I recorded it in a day, did the video, then came back. She’s a genius!”
Mel B joined Oxygen in 2010 as host of the second season of the hit dance/weight-loss competition series “Dance Your Ass Off,” which was a huge success for the network. Along with her husband and children, she also starred in a reality series for the Style Network in 2010 called “Mel B: It’s a Scary World,” which let viewers get to know the family, and see how Mel manages a multi-faceted career, raises her children, and still finds time for her husband. The show was sold internationally to 34 countries and is still being replayed due to such high viewer numbers.
In 2009, she appeared as the volcanic and red-hot presence driving “Peep Show,” the sensual, sophisticated and sly spectacle redefining Las Vegas at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. The show was a wild journey of sexual awakening told through fables and fantasy with an all-female cast of dancers, singers and rock musicians.
Mel B’s brash persona was at the core of the Spice Girls’ global success, racking up worldwide record sales of $55 million, Guinness Book World Records for “Most No. 1 Entries in the UK Charts” and “Most Consecutive No. 1’s for a New Act.” The group’s enduring popularity brought about one of the most successful concert tours of 2007-08 with the reunion trek grossing more than $70 million. The Spice Girls long awaited reunion took place in London at the 2012 XXX Olympic closing ceremony bringing the house down to the 80,000 in attendance and the millions watching around the world.
The British phenomenon’s worldwide acclaim has served Mel B well in a wide variety of ventures. On Broadway at the famed Nederlander Theatre, she starred as “Mimi” in a major production of “Rent” (2004) and also appeared in “The Vagina Monologues” (2002) at the New Ambassador Theatre in London. On the small screen, she hosted the 2008 “Miss Universe Pageant” and has appeared as a special correspondent for the NBC entertainment news shows, “Access Hollywood” and “EXTRA.”
Her business interests are diverse. For the last four years, Mel B has been an ambassador for Jenny Craig. She and her husband are also partners in Real Water (www.drinkrealwater.com), one of the top selling Alkaline waters in the U.S. and Anskos (http://anskos.com.au) an Australia based premium health food company whose products will soon be available in the U.S. In 2009, she became the face of “Totally Fit” workout and health DVD and in 2010 released her own video game, “Get Fit with Mel B” for Wii, Xbox 360 Kinect and Playstation. Mel B is also the face of Ultimo Lingerie, the biggest lingerie line in the UK and has served as product spokesperson for Virgin Mobile, Kraft Foods® and Jell-O®.
Using her prominence to further benefit various charities and causes, Mel B is an ardent supporter of GLAAD and has appeared in the NOH8 campaign, a charitable organization whose mission is to promote marriage, gender and human equality through education, advocacy, social media, and visual protest. She is also helping to raise $250,000 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s “Pose for the Cure” breast cancer campaign, has designed her own shoe line for charity with ShoeDazzle and teamed with Will.I.Am for Oxfam’s “In My Name” campaign that fights world poverty. She is also a spokesperson for “Fitness First” and is the global ambassador for International Fitness Week, which aims to inspire everyone to get active.
Along the way, she has written a best-selling autobiography “Catch a Fire,” and starred in the wildly popular British soap, “Burn It” on the BBC. Film roles have included “Telling Lies” (2008), “Seat Filler” (2004), LD 50” (2003) and the inspiring documentary “Mel B: Voodoo Princess (2002) shot in Benin, off the tip of Africa.
Mel B’s career has been based on inspiring people to leave behind their inhibitions and tackle anything and everything that comes their way. She says, “It’s all about feeling confident, listening to yourself, trusting yourself and being in your own power. And that’s what I’m all about.”
She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, Stephan Belafonte and daughters Phoenix, Angel, Madison and stepdaughter Giselle.
This interview was recorded November 27th, 2013.