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Leeds Live
Leeds Live
Victoria Scheer

Mel B's life now from marriage to famous actor and MBE to move to the US

In 1994, when Melanie Brown decided to respond to an ad placed in a magazine, she could have never imagined that she would end up in one of Britain's most iconic girl bands.

The 19-year-old from Leeds was one of more than 400 wannabes who were auditioning for a spot in a pop band - and Melanie, dressed in a black turtleneck and brown skirt, absolutely knocked it out of the park. The singer, who would later become known as Mel B or Scary Spice, belted out a beautiful rendition of Whitney Houston's The Greatest Love of All, securing her place on the band.

Together with four other girls, she embarked on a journey that would redefine the girl-group concept. Mel B, Emma Bunton, Melanie C, Geri Horner and Victoria Adams (nicknamed Scary, Baby, Sporty, Ginger and Posh Spice) quickly became household names across the world.

Read more: Inside the life of Mel B's daughter, Phoenix Chi

Their debut single "Wannabe" reached number one on the charts of 37 countries in 1996 and their debut album, Spice became the best-selling album by a female group in history. To date, they have sold more than 100 million records worldwide.

But where is Mel B now? Below we take a look at her turbulent life, from her marriage to Eddie Murphy to being awarded an MBE.

Early life

Leeds-born Melanie Janine Brown grew up in Kirkstall and attended Intake High School in Bramley. Her dad Martin is from Saint Kitts and Nevis and her mum Andrea, first cousin of actor Christian Cooke, is British.

Melanie said she experienced racism and bullying while at school and said her mum would make her dad carry her as a baby to avoid being attacked. While growing up, her role models included actress Terri Seymour and singer-songwriter Neneh Cherry.

Personal life

Mel B revealed she was seeking therapy for PTSD following her marriage to Stephen Belafonte (PA)

The singer has been quite vocal about her previous relationships and shared steamy details about her sex life. In 1996 she briefly dated Peter Andre who she said was "a fantastic lover".

After dating businessman Fjölnir Thorgeirsson, Melanie began a relationship with Dutch dancer Jimmy Gulzar in March 1998 while on the Spiceworld Tour. Just a month later, Jimmy popped the question and they tied the knot in September that year.

The couple welcomed their first child, Phoenix Chi Gulzar, on February 19 in 1999. Just a year later, Melanie filed for divorce after reports that the couple were constantly arguing. She won custody of their daughter and paid a settlement of £1.25 to Jimmy.

Melanie then dated actor Max Beesley for two years before meeting film producer Christine Crokos. The couple split in 2006.

Melanie also claimed that she and co-star Geri Halliwell were romantically involved during the band's heydays which Geri has vehemently denied. Melanie then met Hollywood actor Eddie Murphy with whom she had a second child, Angel Iris Murphy Brown in April 2007.

At that point the couple had already separated. In June 2007, Melanie married film producer Stephen Belafonte in a secret ceremony in Las Vegas.

They welcomed daughter Madison Brown Belafonte in September 2011. Five years later, Melanie and Stephen split with Melanie accusing her ex-husband of emotional and physical abuse.

Stephen denies all claims made by the singer and his legal team previously called the claims "outrageous and unfounded". Melanie later became a patron of the domestic violence survivors' charity, Women's Aid.

She has also previously opened up about living with dyslexia, ADHD, and dyspraxia.

Where is she now?

Former Spice Girl Melanie Brown poses after she was made an MBE (2022 Getty Images)

After the band split in 2000, Mel successfully launched her solo career. She has since firmly established herself as a television personality and talent show judge and featured on shows such as X Factor and The Masked Singer.

This year, she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2022 New Year Honours for services to domestic violence victims.

"I never thought I would be here getting this MBE for the work I've been doing," she told the PA news agency afterwards. "It's amazing to have but it's not just for me - it's for all those other women.

"Especially because of Covid, there's been such an epidemic of domestic violence, that's been completely on the rise, and you know I've got an army of women behind me that need help and need to be heard."

Mel now lives in Los Angeles.

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