She used to go by Scary Spice, but unless you’re a contestant on America’s Got Talent, Mel B’s a pretty warm presence. We caught up with the former Spice Girl and current talent show judge to talk about raising her kids in America, her days as a member of the world's biggest pop act, and our chances of seeing a Spice Girls 20th anniversary reunion.
You’ve been in America so long you’re like an honorary U.S. citizen.
I’ve lived in America on and off for the last 15 years. So my eldest just turned 16. My kids are very American. They say "awesome" and "dude" and things like that. And they say “trunk” instead of “boot,” “trash” instead of “bin.” I’m English but I love America. I don’t think I could live anywhere else. The lifestyle’s great here. You can really, really work hard and then you can relax by the pool in the sunshine.
On America’s Got Talent you’re judging musicians, but do you still play?
I do, I love music. I’m constantly in and out of the studio, still writing and singing a little bit myself. It’s my first love and my first passion. I’m not as entrepreneurial as Nick Cannon, but I like to do a bit of everything.
How has your own style changed over the past 20 years?
I don’t think my style has changed. I’m kind of "what you see is what you get." So when I look at an act on stage, whatever I feel the need to say, it just comes out. It’s more of a gut feeling. I react good on spontaneity.
Were you managed the same way as some of these contestants?
No, we weren’t. We kind of managed ourselves and we were kind of not seen for two years because we were working on our music, and we found a great manager in Simon Fuller—but it was us. It was us five girls. Try it today, five girls—nobody can do that. What you saw is what you got, hence our style and how crazy and unpredictable we were.
There was no one cracking the whip, making sure you get to gigs on time?
We set our own schedules. We were like, We want to break into America, we want to go to Japan and Asia, we want to go to Australia, so we kind of did it ourselves because we wanted to. We weren’t put together and told what to do and what to say.
Would you have been on a show like Britain’s Got Talent had it been around then?
Listen, us girls were knocking on everybody’s doors. So if there was a show around that we felt we had to be on, we would have definitely been on it. Whether we would have been boo'd or ex'd is a different story. But we would have been standing there loud and proud.
Any chance of a Spice Girls reunion?
There’s always talk of a reunion. It’s going to be our twentieth year next year. We are talking about it but we’ll see.