Published on The Daily Femme – Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010
Contributed by Annamarya
Like many people, I’m not immune to reality TV. I used to watch the trash reality that was VH1’s “I Love…” franchise and its subsequent spin-offs. And, until last year, I was enthralled by the spins and swirls and mess ups of “Dancing With the Stars.” Also–and I say this with some sprinkling of shame–I’ve caught myself on the “Keeping up with the Kardashians” ship. Now, in between shows on History, Discovery and USA, I find myself sucked into STYLE’s Sunday night lineup–”Jerseylicious” and “Mel B: It’s a Scary World.” Yea, I know…you don’t have to say anything.
I have to say, though, watching the Spice Girls’ former Scary Spice has opened up my eyes. Melanie “Mel B” Brown and her husband, Stephen Belafonte, are incredibly down-to-earth, as are her kids, 11-year-old Phoenix and 2-year-old Angel (whom she had Eddie Murphy). There’s nothing different between the common person and the Brown-Belafonte family (well, except for the money)–even though it’s reality TV and therefore staged, there’s a sense of normality to them. But what really made me respect Mel B so much more was how she stands up for what she believes. During the Sunday, Oct. 17 episode of the show, Mel B posed for a photo for the NOH8 Campaign, which was launched in 2008 by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska and partner Jeff Parshley as a photographic silent protest in response to the passing of California’s Proposition 8 (see the photos here). The purpose of the campaign is to promote equality and acceptance not only for same-sex couples but for everyone. As someone who is biracial and has spoken about how “the color of her skin and the way she looks” lead people to have certain expectations of her, Mel B is very drawn to this campaign.
During the episode, Mel B was asked to record a PSA for NOH8, in addition to taking the photos. As soon as the photos hit the internet, a unnamed company whose products she endorses contacted Stephen and, as relayed by him, said that they don’t want anyone who endorses their products to take such a strong political stance. Essentially, they didn’t want her to do the PSA and if she did, she would lose their green. Mel B did not seem to wrestle long over the decision. While she stood to lose a good chunk of change, recording the PSA was too important for her to pass up because, as she said, it’s a campaign that’s “dear to her heart.” So what did she do? In not so many words, she gave a big middle finger to the company and did the PSA anyways. It doesn’t seem to be online yet but you can watch videos from the episode here.
While I’m the type of person who believes that money should always come secondary to your convictions, I also live in the real world–where money dictates nearly everything. So when I see someone with fame and fortune who turns down a chunk of said fortune in order to promote something as vitally important and essential as equality, I want to mark the moment and commend the person. I just wish more celebrities, and regular folk, would take Mel B’s lead.