The True Story Of The Sixth Spice Girl

The Spice Girls were a dominant force in the 1990's. Maybe your bedroom was adorned with "Spice World" movie posters, or you had a collection of the Spice Girls fashion dolls. And as soon as you heard the opening notes to "Wannabe," you were dancing in front of the TV. The group also made their mark in fashion with platform sneakers and boots galore. Band members were known for their signature style, like Victoria Beckham's little black dresses and Mel C's Adidas tracksuits. According to the BBC, Geri Halliwell's iconic Union Jack minidress was made from tea towels. 

As of this writing, the Spice Girls' legacy continues with reunion tours. In 2019, Geri, Mel B, Mel C, and Emma Bunton earned a combined $78.2 million while touring Ireland and the U.K., according to Billboard. While Victoria Beckham was unable to participate in the 2019 tour, there are rumors that all five Spice Girls will join forces for a reunion in 2022. But back in the beginning, everything started with a single open audition. Per the BBC, The Stage newspaper invited participants to an open audition for an "all Female Pop Act" in 1994. Mel B, Mel C, and Victoria all wowed the judges and were invited back, while Geri aced the second audition. Emma ended up joining the group later — but originally, the last spot in the group belonged to 17-year-old Michelle Stephenson, who earned the highest score at the audition.

Michelle Stephenson had dreams beyond the Spice Girls

According to the Sunday Mirror, Michelle Stephenson didn't expect to be selected at the audition for an "all Female Pop Act." As a theater student, Michelle had experience performing at the Edinburgh Festival, and was a member of both the Young Vic and National Youth Theaters. Speaking in the 1998 documentary "Raw Spice," Michelle told People that her nickname might have been "Smart Spice," had she stayed in the group. But after spending some time with the rest of the girls, Michelle realized that "it wasn't my kind of music and they were not living the lifestyle I wanted," via the Sunday Mirror. She wanted to return to her first love: the theater. At this time, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, which catalyzed her decision to leave the group.

However, Michelle's departure from the group may not have been exclusively her idea. The band's former manager Chris Herbert appeared in "Raw Spice" and claimed Stephenson was requested to leave because she didn't fit in with the others, per People. Additionally, ex-bandmate Victoria Beckham felt Michelle wasn't working as hard as the other members, according to Hit Entertainment. After departing the Spice Girls, Michelle went on to sing backing vocals for Ricky Martin and Julio Iglesias, and worked as a TV presenter. The Daily Star reports that she released "SHESongs," a six-song EP, in 2003. As to her decision to leave the Spice Girls, Michelle is content, telling the Sunday Mirror that "you have to look forward."