Mel B talks marriage, music and making time for her 'crazy' family

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For a woman whose marriage has been under the media spotlight for the past two months, X Factor judge Melanie Brown could not look more relaxed as she chats to HELLO!.

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She's just stepped off a plane from Los Angeles but looks fresh and immaculately groomed in a chic black dress and Christian Louboutin heels, but no sign of jet lag. "Are you kidding me?" she says. "This is a break. I actually get to sleep on a plane."

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Mel B with husband Stephen Belafonte


Before we sit down to talk, she makes a quick call to husband Stephen Belafonte to check he's all set for the school run. "It's normally me racing about in my tracksuit – doing the school run, making their packed lunches, trying to get breakfast down everyone, sorting out clothes for Angel [her seven-year-old daughter] and making sure no one has forgotten anything," she says.

The morning routine is partly the reason Mel is in London. She's shooting a tongue-in-cheek rap video for Weetabix to celebrate its partnership with Red Nose Day in a clip that features the chaos parents face as they try to get their children off to school.

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Mel B has participated in a hilarious rap battle with two girls



"It's hilarious," she says. "Tons of mums shared their stories about what goes on in their houses in the mornings and the thing is, any mother would recognise most – or all – of the stories. "For me, the main flashpoint is always about clothes and Angel. Everything has to match. I put out all their clothes the night before, but if the shoes don't match the skirt or the top or whatever, Angel won't have it.

"And if Angel kicks off, then Madison [her three-year-old] will be copying her, saying her clothes don't match. It can get completely crazy."

Mel has three daughters – Phoenix, 15, from her marriage to dancer Jimmy Gulzar; Angel, from her relationship with actor Eddie Murphy, and Madison, her child with Stephen. The family has been in the headlines over the past few weeks after Mel's triumphant debut on The X Factor ended with an emergency medical issue that caused her to miss one of the final shows. This was followed by endless speculation about her seven-year marriage.

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Mel posing with her three daughters and her husband Stephen

This isn't an issue Mel wants to discuss. As far as she is concerned, the only problem with her marriage is the fact people can't accept that there is no problem. As she told HELLO! a few months ago: "Stephen is the beginning and the end of my world. He gets me and I get him.

As a family we are very strong." Instead, she talks about returning to The X Factor: "It was great to be part of it and I'd always want to be part of it if it works out with other things I've got going on," she says. She's even up for the idea of an updated version of reality series Mel B: It's a Scary World, which was screened in 2010.

"I would definitely be open to doing that show again," she says. "You still see it in repeats on television now and everyone has grown up.

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"But what you saw there was us as a family as we really are. Me running round like a lunatic, working, being with the kids, getting them to do homework, kids’ parties – fighting, laughing, the whole lot. It's just crazy family life that everyone can relate to."

Crazy it might be, but it is also what makes Mel happiest. "I love having a family," she says. "Everyone goes through good and bad times and that's what family life is about. But I love the place I'm in now. Stephen treats me like a queen and I treat him like a king – but we're not like that all the time."

She continues: "My kids don't take things for granted. They have to tidy their bedrooms and I don't give them everything they want. Me and Stephen try to keep things as down to earth as possible."



It's a discipline the Leeds-born star, who shot to fame with the Spice Girls, has always had. "I came from a working-class family," she says. "Both my parents worked. It was my responsibility to get myself off to school and if I missed the bus – that was it. I don't think I ever missed that bus unless I was properly unwell."

By coincidence, the Weetabix video was filmed in the same London studios where the Spice Girls recorded Wannabe in 1996. Now, she's there performing with a group of youngsters. "I'm not calling it rapping," she says, with a laugh.

"It's just me being a mum and saying all the things mums think about their kids. I'm having a laugh. We're all having a laugh. "And the best thing about it is we’re raising money for an amazing cause and sending a message out about how important it is for kids to have breakfast in the morning."

Could this mark a return to the music industry? Mel grins. "I've never stopped recording and at New Year, I wrote something I thought was exciting – but you'll have to wait and see."

Interview: LOUISE GANNON

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