This is no cautionary tale about baby mama drama. Melanie Brown, better known as Scary Spice, the free spirit of the legendary UK pop quintet, the Spice Girls, is fed up with the rumors regarding her whirlwind romance and breakup with Oscar nominee, Eddie Murphy. After the comedic actor publicly denied knowledge of the paternity of their 3-month-old daughter, Angel Iris Murphy Brown, Mel B is finally ready to have her say. In part 1 of an exclusive two-part interview, ESSENCE.com spoke with Brown about her upcoming Spice Girls reunion tour, the wedding she’ll never have with Eddie, the media frenzy that has interrupted her life, and surviving single motherhood. (When asked to respond to this article, representatives for Eddie Murphy said: “We do not comment on Mr. Murphy’s personal life.”)
ESSENCE.com: Congrats on the Spice Girls reunion!
MELANIE BROWN: Thank you. We start rehearsing in November and our first concert is in Los Angeles this December. We will be touring six continents, 11 cities and eight countries and you can go online and register your country to be considered as a tour stop. More than 3 million people have responded so far, and in L.A. alone we have 800,000 people that want to see the show, which is mind-blowing!
ESSENCE.com: But with more than 40 million albums sold, why are you so shocked?
MEL B: It’s just surprising to learn that so many people want to see the show. Not only in America and England, but worldwide it’s like serious stuff. So far the response has been brilliant.
ESSENCE.com: What are you looking forward to the most after nearly a decade of not performing together?
MEL B: (Laugh) Don’t say a “decade.” That makes me feel bloody old. Seriously though, I’m just looking forward to getting back together again. The five of us share this inexplicable bond and connection. It¹ like being on a high hanging with four of your best friends that completely have your back. I think women deserve to share that kind of connection with their girlfriends.
ESSENCE.com: So you don’t think things will be different?
MEL B: We’ve all matured and are at a different stage of our lives—we’re way more relaxed and mature. We’ve all been married, divorced and had children. We will have seven kids on tour with us so we¹e not going to be partying.
ESSENCE.com: I’d like to switch gears and talk a bit about your relationship with Eddie Murphy, the father of your 3-month-old daughter, Angel Iris Murphy Brown. First, how did the two of you meet?
MEL B: At the end of last May, I had just returned from a trip to Hawaii. We met through mutual friends at a group dinner and just hit it off that night. Afterwards, we didn’t spend much time apart.
ESSENCE.com: So you two jumped right into a relationship?
MEL B: Not really. We took our relationship slowly physically, but mentally we were right on point with each other and became really good friends. When you live a life through the media like both of us have, you instantly have a connection and a mutual understanding, especially when you’re not all “Hollywood.” Eddie wasn’t then so we were just two cool people enjoying time together.
ESSENCE.com: It’s also been reported that you attended a barbecue last July, and that following August you accompanied him and his five children on a family vacation to Hawaii with your eldest daughter, Phoenix Chi. Was your purpose to bond as a blended family?
MEL B: My whole point was to introduce the kids and have them spend time together. We went on vacation with family and friends and everyone got along like a house on fire, which was lovely. My big thing is if my kid doesn’t like you or your kids then it’s a no-go. Trust me, if my daughter doesn¹ like someone then I don¹ like them. It’s as simple as that.
ESSENCE.com: I also hear that his brother, Charlie Murphy, gave you the thumbs-up while your mom also approved of Eddie.
MEL B: Yeah, he spoke to my mum on the phone when I was in London and reassured her, because my mom had never met him. I held a big dinner party in Los Angeles so my dad could meet him and my dad really liked him. My mum said, “Eddie and I didn’t shake hands, but everything’s fine.”
ESSENCE.com: Did you ever live with him in his Beverly Hills mansion?
MEL B: No, I have property because I have to keep my child’s lifestyle somewhat regular. I wasn’t going to change up my lifestyle that quickly. But my daughter was being homeschooled at his house with two of his kids, so I was there most of the time.
ESSENCE.com: Really? Whose decision was it to have her homeschooled?
MEL B: Well, my daughter was getting behind in her regular schoolwork so he suggested that she be homeschooled. On his property they have a whole classroom setup. So I let her attend for about a month and when she caught up to speed with her work she went back to school.
ESSENCE.com: How did you two officially break up?
MEL B: There was no official breakup. I went to London and on my return flight I learned that he made that announcement about wanting a DNA test on that TV show. Then I saw him on the red carpet with Tracey Edmonds and that’s when I knew we were over.
ESSENCE.com: Whoa, what a way to find out. What was your gut reaction?
MEL B: I laughed because that wasn’t the guy that I knew who told me he wanted to have a baby and get married. I just didn’t believe it. I had my lawyer send me the link for the clip of that Dutch TV show. I had to see it to believe it. When I saw it my heart dropped down to my gut. Obviously, there was something within him that I didn’t know. Then I thought, If that’s the kind of person that he truly is, then I’m better off by myself. I had to switch gears because I had press outside my property walking up to my front door. It was awful because I was pregnant. Eddie and I were extremely low-key; you didn’t see me going anywhere with him maybe once or twice. One of the reasons I moved to this country was to avoid the limelight so I could take my kid to the park and do my grocery shopping. So to have him embarrass me worldwide and have press knocking on my door—frankly, I was pissed and I was like, “Thank you! You have now put me in a whole different lifestyle where I have to have security, move to a new house, and move my kid out of the school she attended.” That was no fun.
ESSENCE.com: Did you still think it was a joke after watching the clip?
MEL B: No, it wasn’t a joke because I saw the link and I heard what he said and then I saw the pic, actually I wouldn’t allow myself to look at it–he was on the red carpet with another woman.
ESSENCE.com: Is Phoenix privy to all the gossip?
MEL B: No, I tell her what she needs to know because there are certain things that your kids don’t need to know. They don’t need to know the ins and outs of breakups. I simply give her a heads-up: This is how it is and if you have a problem with that, then let’s talk about it.
ESSENCE.com: It’s truly sad to hear such things.
MEL B: My thing was to look at the bigger picture: for a Black guy in 2007 to even go there. As a Black man with “X” amount of kids, you already have a horrible stigma attached to you. Do yourself a favor and be classy.
ESSENCE.com: Have you ever run into Tracey Edmonds?
MEL B: No, never. And if I did I wouldn’t be horrible, I’d be polite. At the end of the day, she’s in that situation and I’m in a whole different situation.
ESSENCE.com: Did you call Eddie after watching the clip of the show?
MEL B: I did. I called him and we had a really brief conversation and it went something along the lines of, “I’ll call you back”—and he never did.
ESSENCE.com: So you haven’t heard from him since then?
MEL B: I called his assistant to let her know I was going into labor and the baby would probably be born within the next 24 hours. I asked her to please let him know and she responded, “He knows.” And still nothing; not even a hello to the baby, not even a nappy (diaper) or flowers bought, nothing.
ESSENCE.com: Was Eddie ever excited about your pregnancy?
MEL B: Oh this was a completely planned pregnancy. This wasn’t some random, “Oops I fell over and I’m pregnant.” I don’t live my life like that. I’m a responsible parent and have been a responsible single parent since I got divorced. This is the one thing that really annoys me. If I wanted to have a baby I would have had a baby a long time ago. I wouldn’t have waited eight years to have another one.
ESSENCE.com: Wow. So you two sat down and decided to have a child?
MEL B: Yes, of course. As soon as I had my IUD removed we proceeded to get pregnant. It happened quicker than we expected but it was perfect timing.
ESSENCE.com: What made it perfect timing?
MEL B: Because we planned to get married at Christmas, but then we had to change it once I got pregnant and we decided that after the baby was born we’d get married.
ESSENCE.com: Why do you think he went flip mode and publicly denied his flesh and blood?
MEL B: First of all, I’m a very independent woman so if you’re trying to control me, that’s not going to happen. In any relationship, it’s all about compromise. We were going to buy a house in Malibu and move in together. Somehow things got confused along the way because there were certain things that went on in his house with his lifestyle that I wasn’t prepared to be a part of. So that became a trippy discussion, which ended up where we both refused to budge.
ESSENCE.com: What is it about his lifestyle that you don’t like?
MEL B: I have a baby with this guy so I have to be somewhat respectful. I’ll simply say that there were lifestyle changes that he would have to make if we were going to live together and do it properly. I have a house where it’s about my kids and me. I don’t have people knocking on my door at 3 and 4 in the morning. I have a very simple life—I don’t have a ton of people looking after my kids—I’m a very regular person when it comes to that because I want my kids to have a normal life as much as possible.
ESSENCE.com: Hold up. I’m confused. Were you hoping to iron out those issues upon your return from London?
MEL B: Yes. When I left for London I thought I would return and we’d finish our discussion. Instead, I returned to, “It’s over and I’m with somebody else.” For me, that was confusing. I still haven’t received closure on that because before I left, we said, “This is what I need and this is what you need.” But I got nothing. And I’m not about to go knocking on somebody’s door like, “Hold on a minute, what happened? Why are you doing this to me?” I have too much pride and self-esteem to be treated that way. Obviously, what I said must have hurt him to make him react that way because the guy doesn’t speak about his relationships, period. I didn’t want to have a rocky pregnancy, so I moved to the beach with my kids and my dogs. I had an amazing pregnancy—my labor was so easy—and I gave birth to an amazing daughter.
ESSENCE.com: While I’m sorry to hear things didn’t work out with Eddie, I’m happy to hear you have a new man, film producer Stephen Belafonte. I have to ask: Is he related to actor Harry Belafonte?
MEL B: (Laughs) Yeah, thank God I’ve known him for seven years, so I know that he won’t be detrimental or disrespectful. And he loves kids—he has a 2 1/2-year-old son. But no, he’s not related to Harry Belafonte.
ESSENCE.com: Seven years is a long time. How’d you meet?
MEL B: We met on the film set of Talk. We had a connection then, but at the time Stephen had a girlfriend and I had a boyfriend. Throughout my pregnancy when Phoenix spent weekends with her dad, I would go to this really cool spot in Mexico to meditate. I realized that throughout the madness, I had to keep strong and sane so that my baby would come out with the love and light surrounding it. He has met my mum and kids, and they like him. He’s just a very caring and considerate person.
ESSENCE.com: I guess you were single and ready to mingle.
MEL B: No, I wasn’t. When you’re going through something like I did and you’re pregnant, you really start thinking, That’s it. I’m done with everyone—I just want friends. I can hold off on the physical. So he became a really close friend of mine and really supportive. Then one day he said, “You know, I’ve liked you for a long time.” And I was like, “Really? I didn’t know that.” That part of me got shut down, which is what happens when you get hurt.
ESSENCE.com: How long have you two officially been dating?
MEL B: As far as a serious relationship, I would say that happened a couple of months ago.
ESSENCE.com: Are you two engaged?
MEL B: No, I read that and laughed. I was like, “Oh, we are? This is the first time I’ve heard of it.” But we’re very happy together. I don’t care how much money you have or don’t have, just be a cool person who loves kids and dogs.
ESSENCE.com: I read you had a power meeting at Mr. Chow with high-profile attorney Gloria Allred.
MEL B: Yeah. My only concern is that Eddie has to be responsible. If that means I have to hire a different lawyer and a female lawyer who only has the mother’s and baby’s best interests at heart, and it’s truly not about the money, then you’re my girl. If that’s the route I have to go down, then that’s the route I’m going. Believe me, it’s taken me three months to even realize that, because like any mother I’m thinking that the dad is going to show up and be responsible. Well, that’s not happening and that hasn’t happened to date.
ESSENCE.com: As of today, Eddie has made no attempts to visit or call?
MEL B: No. But that’s all going to change because he has to take responsibility. It takes two to make a baby and two to raise it. If you have a baby with me, you will be in that child’s life, whether it’s every week or once a year. I’m not going to have a baby and allow someone to go underground. And I’m not talking about money—I’m talking about the fact that Angel has a mum and a dad just like Phoenix has a mum and a dad.
ESSENCE.com: Did you try to resolve this issue without lawyers?
MEL B: Oh yeah, oh yeah. I’ve waited and put in personal calls to Eddie’s lawyer and said, “Look, this needs to be sorted out,” and I’ve had no response other than, ‘Yes, Ms. Brown, we’ll pass the message on” or “Yes, Ms. Brown, he knows that he needs to be responsible.”
ESSENCE.com: Wasn’t he the one who asked for the DNA test?
MEL B: Yes, he was the one who said that he wanted the test, but when it came down to it I had to force him to take it because he went into complete denial and wouldn’t even show up for a meeting about it. I nearly took him to court to get the paternity test because he wouldn’t do it. It’s really crazy, but it is what it is. But the one thing you can’t get away from is your responsibility. I don’t care if you’re from the ‘hood or at the top of your game in Hollywood, you have to be responsible.
ESSENCE.com: Angel is absolutely adorable. What sort of things is she doing already at 3 months?
MEL B: She’s pulling her pacifier in and out of her mouth, which is pretty advanced. This week her hair has grown long enough to put a tiny li’l pigtail on her. It’s gorgeous.
ESSENCE.com: Ironically, Angel was born on Eddie’s birthday, April 3.
MEL B: She was born ten days early, and I was like, “No way am I gonna give birth on his birthday.” Obviously it’s a sign. So the way it worked out, she decided that at midnight on his birthday I was going to dilate from three centimeters to ten. She was born 11 minutes into his birthday on April 3. …It is like Angel was saying, “Every time it’s your birthday, it’s my birthday.” I actually giggled when I realized she’d be born on the same day as Eddie. I said, “Angel, you are funny!”
ESSENCE.com: So is Angel a good baby? Does she sleep through the night?
MEL B: Oh, she is so good. Her current routine is to go to sleep at 10 in the evening and wake up for a 6 o’clock feed. She has six feeds during the day, every three hours. If she doesn’t get that bottle on time every three hours, it’s over. She starts screaming and won’t stop. She was born weighing five pounds so she’s a hungry baby.
ESSENCE.com: If you could ask Eddie for anything, what would you want?
MEL B: Honestly, I don’t want anything from him. I’m happy if he’s happy. I have two beautiful, healthy children and I mean that. It’s more about Angel and her relationship with her father. My kids are much too precious, and every child deserves to know that they have a mum and a dad, otherwise there’s something missing psychologically. I’m not about to put my daughter through that.
ESSENCE.com: What would you tell Angel about her father?
MEL B: I only have good things to say about him. I’m not one of those moms who is bitter. I only have nice things to say about Eddie, and that’s all she would want to hear anyway.
ESSENCE.com: Are you optimistic that he will be involved in Angel’s life?
MEL B: Yes, he has to be. He is with all his other kids and he’s a great dad. Why should this beautiful baby be any different?
ESSENCE.com: If you ran into Eddie, what would you say to him?
MEL B: I’d say, “Here, meet your baby. She’s beautiful. We did a good job.”
Credit: Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage.com
Melanie at The Beckham’s “Welcome to LA” star-studded party on July 22, 2007.