Mel B: Spice Girl opens up about racism, domestic abuse and post traumatic stress disorder
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Mel B has opened up about her experiences of racism, domestic abuse and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Spice Girl, 48, admits she “grew up feeling different” due to the lack of mixed-race children in Leeds in the 1970s and 80s
The mixed-race singer, who has a Caribbean dad and an English mum, was called “horrible” names as a child, but honoured her parents for the love and confidence they gave her. Mel B told The Guardian: “We were barred from the working men’s club on our street, because my dad was Black. It gave me a proper idea of justice and of taking a moral stance. When I got into the Spice Girls, I went back to that club and said, ‘I’m going to report you. No, in fact I’m going to buy this place, because you didn’t let me in when I was a kid.’”
Mel B revealed that she still suffers from PTSD after being in an allegedly abusive relationship with Stephen Belafonte. She divorced the film producer in 2017, after 10-years, something she credits her fellow Spice Girls for giving her the “confidence” to do. She explained: “I’ve still got PTSD. Abusers never really leave you. What kept me going through my abusive marriage was work. I was the main breadwinner and work was my safe space.”
Following her divorce from Stephen, Mel became a patron of domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid, and she was later appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2022 New Year Honours for services to charitable causes and vulnerable women. She is now trying to educate the Met Police and the justice system about domestic violence, but claims they “still don’t understand”.
In the interview, she also spoke about living “in a little house” with her fellow Spice Girls; knocking on the doors of record companies; the relief of being diagnosed with anxiety, dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD in 2019; and being back in Leeds - “a five minute drive” from all her family - after spending time living in Los Angeles.
This month, the Spice Girl is set to appear as a judge on the second season of Paramount+ reality series Queen of the Universe, taking over from Leona Lewis. The drag queen singing competition is hosted by Graham Norton and the contestants are competing for a cash prize of $250,000.