Jamaican dancehall artist Spice, who was born Grace Hamilton in Spanish Town, Jamaica, in 1982, talked about her early life and path to becoming the “Queen of Dancehall” in a discussion with journalist at Forbes magazine Rosemary Miller. Spice spoke personally about becoming a “new woman” on a “new walk,” her role on the reality TV show, “Love & Hip Hop Atlanta,” what people might think of her, and her relationship with money and success.
The Reality of Reality TV
Miller began by asking Spice about the infamous fight with Erica Mena on Episode 12 of the 11th season of “Love & Hip Hop Atlanta” in which Mena attacked Spice with a racial slur. Spice’s answer set the tone for the entire interview. She explains that she understood how things would be going into the “Love & Hip Hop” franchise, and added it was okay for her. She retained her peace of mind about the incident because “someone’s opinion of me does not value who I am” and “That doesn’t define me. I know who I am.” Spice emphasized that she brought out the issue of colorism several years ago and continues to take pride in being “black and beautiful” and reminding others like her about how beautiful they are.
The Childhood of the Queen of Dancehall
Spice shared that she came from humble beginnings and remembered having to walk to school because there was not enough money for bus fare. She has five siblings, and they lived in a one-bedroom house and used to sleep in one bed. She explains that it is her childhood memories that inspire her. “I know what it’s like to go to bed without food. I know what it’s like to just have one pair of shoes,” she said, adding that she never wants to go back to those conditions. Although people think she enjoyed overnight success, she actually began performing at the age of 14 and while she never had a regular nine-to-five job, she put in the hard work needed to pursue her career in entertainment. Because of her journey to success, Spice has taken as her motto, “From homeless to greatness.”
What Money Means to Spice
Spice shared that the meaning of money to her changed once she had it. She now views money as “generational wealth” and that she knows money does not bring happiness but it is able to “break generational wealth.” She notes that she was once homeless because she lost her home to fire, that there were times when there was nothing in her bank account, and now that she is a millionaire, she can make things better for her children and family and even for those outside her family. Spice went on to talk about the downside of riches as well. She no longer trusts anyone but her mother, stating, “More money, more problems,” meaning that becoming wealthy also fostered jealousy among her friends and family. She also said that friends she grew up with changed toward her when she became wealthy and held it against her that her performance and business commitments – she has many different income streams now – meant that she was not as available to them as she was when she was poor.
Spice versus Grace Hamilton
The dancehall artist noted that her “Spice” persona was different from Grace Hamilton, the person she really is, saying that many people will never get to meet the “real” her, but only the Spice persona she created, with the blue hair and stage presence, the person who “gives you a good show,” but that’s not Grace Hamilton. Whenever she left the stage, she says she “metamorphosized” back into her real self, a humble and down-to-earth girl. She went on to say that she wishes she didn’t have to wear the wigs and makeup and could just be at home singing gospel.
Spice’s Advice to Younger Female Entrepreneurs
When asked what advice she would give to aspiring performers and entrepreneurs who want to be like her, Spice said, “I would tell them they can’t be like me. No one can be like anyone. You got to be like yourself.” However, in regard to financial advice, she stated, “I would tell them it’s not what you make. It’s what you save and what you invest in.” She added that it is saving that will determine how rich you become and that it is not how the race starts that determines a winner, but how it ends.