Mel C Is Ready to Tell You the Spiciest Secrets You Want to Know About the Spice Girls

In an exclusive interview with E! News, The Spice Girls' Mel C, a.k.a. Sporty Spice, opened up about what life was really like in the most famous girl group in the world.

By Tierney Bricker Sep 30, 2022 12:00 PMTags
Watch: The Spice Girls: Then vs. Now

Mel C, a.k.a. Sporty Spice, is ready to give Spice Girls fans everything. All that joy can bring. This, she swears.

The singer is reflecting on her childhood, career and the true story about the iconic group in her recently released memoir Who I Am. The highs, the lows and the zigazig-ahs, Mel C covers it all, telling E! News that she felt compelled to share the personal struggles she faced after the Spice Girls sky-rocketed to fame in 1996, eventually going on to become the best-selling female group of all-time.

"While it's entertaining, it's fun, and it'll peek behind all those iconic spice moments," Mel C said of the book, "even more important for me was to be very open and be very honest, because having suffered with an eating disorder, anxiety and depression in my life, I know so many people experience these things.

At the time though, she continued, "I felt so alone. I felt so isolated. But if I ever read about other people's experiences, that gave me hope and even a companion through those dark times."

And that is what the 48-year-old is hoping to offer to readers with Who I Am, which is an intimate account of her transition from a small town Whiston-bred girl who loved sports to one of the most famous women in the world and all the challenges that come along with success. 

Spice Girls Through the Years

"The pressure started quite quickly because we knew we had something precious and none of us wanted to mess it up," Mel C explained. "We felt we had pressure within the band. We put pressure on each other and obviously we put pressure on ourselves with this external pressure and then you become successful, so the pressure just mounts because then you truly have something to lose, right?"

Three best-selling albums, one Spice World movie and the shocking exit of Geri Halliwell later, the Spice Girls ultimately went on hiatus in 2000. While Mel C said the group was "in survival mode" for a majority of that four-year run, she "wouldn't change a thing,"

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"It was the most wonderful experience," she said. "I wake up and pinch myself because it's so awesome to be a Spice Girl."

So, allow Mel C to let Mel C tell you what you want, what you really want. In an interview with E! News' Francesca Amiker, she spilled the tea she spilled on how David Beckham became the unofficial sixth member, the time Geri broke protocol in front of the royal family in a shocking way and whether or not the Spice Girls will ever perform together again:

Her Secret Struggle With an Eating Disorder

Melanie C first opened up about her struggles with depression and an eating disorder in an essay she penned for The Guardian in 2020. But the singer felt it was "so important" to write about the topics in her recently released memoir Who I Am, saying, "The deciding factor in writing this book was the benefit that it could bring to other people."

While she grew up dancing and was "very physical," Mel C said she had "been around other people with eating disorders and had "been in a place where there was a certain esthetic that was aspired to," her own struggle with the disease didn't begin until someone criticized her appearance during the start of her music career.

"I thought, 'Oh, my goodness, do I not look the way I need to look to achieve this dream?'" she explained. "So that was the first little chink in the armor."

And, after The Spice Girls became one of the most popular bands in the world, the 48-year-old said it became more about "control" because "if you are lucky enough to have success like that, your life isn't your own anymore."

"You stick to the schedule. When everything else in your life is out of your control, you try to control some of the things," she explained. "That would be food, exercise and also my behavior."

Given their level of success, Mel C admitted she was "petrified" to make a mistake, "so I just shut down emotionally. I just became very quiet. And that was my life. That was my coping mechanism. I think each member of the band found their own way to deal with this incredible but quite unnerving thing that was happening to us."

Friendship Never Ends

While it went on to become the best-selling single by a girl group in the world, 1996's "Wannabe" was never meant to be the Spice Girls' debut single, let alone "ever be released," according to Mel C.

"We were just being silly in the studio...and the writers we were working with really wanted to capture the energy that we had," Mel C explained of the iconic song's origin. "They molded this craziness into a song."

Mel C added that the music video "completely and utterly" highlighted the band's behavior at the time. "We used to go to record labels and publishing companies and we jumped on tables," she said. "I'd do a backflip, there'd be papers flying around the place. That's why it connected with people because it was so genuine."

But the record label was "so nervous" to release "Wannabe" and were pushing the group to go with "Say You'll Be There" as their first single. While Mel C acknowledged that is "a great song," she said the five members banded together to fight for "Wannabe" to be their debut. "We were like, 'No want to be has to be the first single because it's the introduction to us and let the world know who we are.'" Girl power, indeed.

Prepare for a Reunion

In 2019, the Spice Girls went on their fourth concert tour, selling out all 13 shows and earning $78.2 million in ticket sales. But it was far from a farewell tour. 

Asked when, not if, the band would perform again, she responded, "Well, it is going to be when. We are still talking about how and when that's going to happen, but we want to do it. So fingers crossed it will be before too long."

But fans shouldn't expect to see Victoria Beckham—who opted out of the 2019 tour to focus on her career as a fashion designer—finally return to the stage in her Posh Spice micro-dress and heels, though Mel C said, "She's still very much part of the band. She's always very involved in the decisions that we make."

The Sixth Member

After Victoria began dating David Beckham in 1997, the rest of the band members quickly welcomed the soccer superstar into the Spice family, which was not a common occurrence. 

"There's not many people allowed into the inner circle, but as soon as we met David we really liked him because at that time he was quite quiet and shy," Mel C said. "He didn't get involved. That's the biggest mistake of any Spice Partner to do is get involved in any band politics. That's a big no no. It was lovely. He definitely would become one of the girls and we took him under our wing."

But there was one slight issue: What his Spice name would be, as Mel C joked, "He'd be the real Sporty Spice. Wouldn't he be in trouble?"

Spice Up Your Texts

Yes, just like you and your friends, the Spice Girls have a group chat. 

"We have a few, different ones for different things," Mel C revealed. "We're always in touch and we're always constantly talking about getting things together and what we want to do."

One current topic of conversation is how to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Spice World later this year. 

No Hard Feelings

Sure, Simon Cowell would go on to become a star in his own right, thanks to American Idol, The X Factor and America's Got Talent, in addition to launching the careers of the One Direction bandmates, but back when the Spice Girls were first starting out, he passed on the chance to sign them to his record label. "Spice Girls is probably my biggest mistake," Cowell told Jay Leno in 2013. 

But Mel C said there is no bad blood between Cowell and the band, with many of the members having worked alongside him on various reality competition series over the years.

"He's gone on to do incredible things, but when we met him as the Spice Girls back in the day, he was just another guy that we met at a label," she explained of the then-recording exec. "It was so funny to watch his meteoric rise."

She added that she didn't think the Spice Girls "would be a good fit" for Cowell anyway "because we were just a little too outspoken for him." 

Family Matters

Having grown up in a small town in England where many people, including many of her family and friends, "struggled to pay bills," Mel C admitted she struggled with her success.

"I went out that I'm fulfilling this childhood dream...I can't even call it a job," she explained, "because I'm on stage singing and dancing for people and I'm earning more money in a day than my family earn in a year. Making peace with that is hard and not many people talk about that."

Becoming "the head of the family in my early twenties because I can afford to help people financially" caused an "interesting dynamic shift," one Mel C said she wasn't prepared for as a young artist at the time.

"Because you need to be cared for and there's so much more that comes with fame than we realize," she explained. "We look through history at how many people have had problems and have issues. We need to support young people more in that environment."

Breaking the Rules

One of the "most fun" aspects of writing Who I Am for Mel C was reliving all of the memories the band made, including the time Geri  Halliwell infamously patted King Charles III's butt at the London premiere of Spice World in May 1997.

"I was one of the quieter members of the band but when we were together, it really just felt really courageous," Mel C said. And then thanks to the really outspoken members like Mel B and Geri out there breaking protocol, it was like when we were together, we were unstoppable and we used to love it. If people told us to not do something, then we would make sure we would do it."

Dealing With Bullies

In Who I Am, Mel C writes of her struggles with being bullied during her childhood, an experience she relates to dealing with the paparazzi and tabloid attention she received after becoming famous. 

"Nothing can prepare you for fame," Mel C told E!. "You are pursued by paparazzi, you are commented on by the media and it's a whirlwind and you're just trying to navigate the whole thing. It becomes quite difficult."

She continued, "I've been bullied in different dynamics, whether it be within the band scenario and then by the media. Then you just think, ‘Wow, I was I was a child pretty much and I was finding my way.' All five of us were criticized heavily and continuously throughout our careers and that really hard to deal with when you're young."

Her Favorite Spice Girls Song

Like a parent picking a favorite child, it was a hard task for Mel C to highlight just one of the band's tunes, though she noted she has a fondness for their "beautiful ballads," including "Two Become One," "Viva Forever," and "Too Much."

But the group's medley performance of "Wannabe" and "Spice Up Your Life" at the 2012 London Olympics holds a special place in Mel C's heart. 

"Those songs are kind of silly, but they are the energy and the essence of the Spice Girls," she said. "And since that performance to this day, they're my favorites."

Who I Am is available wherever you buy books.