Geraldine Estelle Halliwell
6 August 1972
|Associated acts||Spice Girls|
Geraldine Estelle Horner (née Halliwell; born 6 August 1972), is an English singer, songwriter, author, actress, and philanthropist. She rose to prominence in the 1990s as Ginger Spice, a member of the pop girl group the Spice Girls. With over 90 million records sold worldwide, the group became the best-selling female group of all time. The phrase "girl power", regularly uttered by all five members, was most closely associated with Halliwell. Her Union Jack dress from the 1997 Brit Awards also became an enduring symbol of girl power. In 1998, Halliwell left the Spice Girls to pursue a solo career but later returned to the group when they reunited in 2007.
In 1999, Halliwell launched her solo career and released her debut studio album, Schizophonic, which spawned three number one singles including "Mi Chico Latino", "Lift Me Up", and "Bag It Up", while the lead single, "Look at Me", peaked at number two. In 2001, she released her second studio album, Scream If You Wanna Go Faster; the lead single, "It's Raining Men", was also used on the Bridget Jones's Diary film soundtrack, peaked at number one in the UK and went on to become the biggest hit of her career. The singles that followed, “Scream If You Wanna Go Faster” and “Calling”, reached number eight and number seven in the UK, respectively. Halliwell released her third studio album, Passion, in 2005, which included the worldwide hit "Ride It", which was commercially successful in the rest of Europe. It peaked at number one in Ukraine, number two in Russia, number four in the UK, while reaching number three in Belgium and Spain.
After a few years of relative obscurity, in April 2010, Halliwell announced that she had started working on new music. In 2012, she was a guest judge on the ninth series of The X Factor UK, and the following year, she was a judge on the seventh series on Australia's Got Talent. In September 2013, it was announced that Halliwell would return to the music industry in Australia with the release of her first solo single in eight years, "Half of Me". She has also established herself in the publishing industry, releasing two autobiographies including the successful book If Only, and a series of children's novels including Ugenia Lavender.
Geraldine Estelle Halliwell was born on 6 August 1972 at Watford General Hospital in Watford, Hertfordshire, the daughter of Ana María (née Hidalgo) and Laurence Francis Halliwell (1922–1993). Her mother is Spanish, hailing from Huesca, while her father was of Swedish, English and a "bit of French" descent. Halliwell's paternal grandfather was Swedish, though born in Korsnäs, Finland. Halliwell grew up on a council estate in North Watford. She was educated at Watford Grammar School for Girls and Camden School for Girls. Before starting her music career, Halliwell had worked as a nightclub dancer in Majorca, a presenter on the Turkish version of Let's Make a Deal, and a glamour model. At the age of 19, she appeared as a Page 3 girl in The Sun. Following her rise to fame, nude photos of Halliwell were republished in a number of magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse in 1996.
1994–1998: Spice Girls
In 1994, Halliwell, along with Melanie Chisholm, Melanie Brown, and Victoria Beckham, responded to an advertisement in The Stage magazine. Around 400 women answered the ad and auditioned at Dance Works studios. After a couple of initial line-up changes, Halliwell, Chisholm, Brown, and Beckham (née Adams) eventually became the members of the group, along with Emma Bunton. The group felt insecure about the lack of a contract and were frustrated by the direction in which Heart Management was steering them, and in October 1994, armed with a catalogue of demos and dance routines, they began touring management agencies. They persuaded Bob Herbert to set up a showcase performance for the group in front of industry writers, producers, and artists and repertoire men in December 1994 at the Nomis Studios in Shepherd's Bush, where they received an "overwhelmingly positive" reaction. Due to the large interest in the group, the Herberts quickly set about creating a binding contract for the group. Encouraged by the reaction they had received at the Nomis showcase, all five members delayed signing contracts on the legal advice from, amongst others, Adams' father Anthony Adams. In March 1995, because of the group's frustration at their management's unwillingness to listen to their visions and ideas, they parted with Heart Management.
The group began a relationship with Simon Fuller of 19 Entertainment and finally signed with him in March 1995. During the summer of that year, the group toured record labels in London and Los Angeles with Fuller and finally signed a deal with Virgin Records in September 1995. From this point on, up to summer 1996, the group continued to write and record tracks for their debut album while extensively touring the West Coast of the United States, where they had signed a publishing deal with Windswept Pacific. On 7 June 1996, the Spice Girls released their debut single, "Wannabe", in the United Kingdom. In the weeks leading up to the release, the video for "Wannabe" got a trial airing on The Box music channel. The song proved to be a global hit, reaching number one in 37 countries, becoming the best-selling single by an all-female group of all time. Shortly after "Wannabe"'s release, each member of the group received a nickname from Top of the Pops magazine. Because of her "liveliness, zest and flaming red hair", Halliwell was named "Ginger Spice". "Wannabe" was followed by nine further number-one singles from their albums Spice, Spiceworld, and Forever. Other successful releases followed, including "Say You'll Be There" and "2 Become 1" from Spice, and "Spice Up Your Life", "Too Much", and "Viva Forever" from Spiceworld.
On 31 May 1998, Halliwell announced that she had left the Spice Girls due to depression and differences between the group. The first official confirmation was an announcement to the media by her solicitor on 31 May. Her action aroused controversy, her former group being due to embark on a North American tour, which they eventually completed without her. Although she had already left the group, the Spice Girls released "Viva Forever", the final music video to feature Halliwell's likeness, plus a one-off supergroup called England United for the official England FC song (Jo Whiley introduced the band saying "...plus Geri as a substitute"). After she left, the other girls co-wrote a few songs about her, which appeared on their album Forever: "Goodbye", "Tell Me Why", and "Let Love Lead the Way". The group is among the best-selling girl groups of all time, selling over 75 million albums.
Although regularly uttered by all five Spice Girls, the phrase “girl power” was most closely associated with Halliwell, and was often accompanied with a peace sign. In a Christmas 1996 interview with The Spectator magazine, Halliwell spoke of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as being an inspiration for their girl power ideology. In a 2019 interview with Harper's Bazaar, she said, “For me, if you look it up, it means equalisation between the sexes. It means everybody, whether you’re a man, woman or something in between. Forget about labels, it’s about embracing everyone’s individuality and giving them the opportunity and gender equality and pushing that forward.”
Halliwell's association with girl power (and her friendship with George Michael) was spoofed in the BBC comedy series Rock Profile. Halliwell (played by comedian Matt Lucas) is portrayed as a patronising moron who stalks and has delusions about marrying Michael. According to Halliwell, everything is "Girl Power". "All base metals, Girl Power. The River Nile, Girl Power. Clive Anderson, dictionary definition of Girl Power".
1999–2006: Schizophonic, Scream If You Wanna Go Faster and Passion
In 1999, one year after leaving the group, Halliwell launched her solo career and released her debut album Schizophonic, with the lead single "Look at Me", produced by Absolute and Phil Bucknall. "Look at Me" was followed by further number ones at the UK Singles Chart, "Mi Chico Latino", "Lift Me Up", and "Bag It Up". The album itself reached a peak at number four in the United Kingdom, and sold 600,000 copies there, making it double platinum. Halliwell was nominated at BRIT Awards ceremony in 2000, for Best British Female Solo Artist and Best Pop Act, she also performed "Bag It Up" during the show, emerging between giant inflatable legs, ripping off her shirt, and walking in stiletto heels over the backs of topless pink-haired men whilst performing the song. Schizophonic debuted at number 42 on the Billboard 200 before dropping out within the next month. The album was eventually certified gold, distributing over 500,000 copies. The album ended up selling around three million copies worldwide.
In 2001, Halliwell followed up with her second album, Scream If You Wanna Go Faster, the album peaked at number five in the United Kingdom, and sold 200,000 copies there and was certified gold. It included her cover version of the Weather Girls' 1983 hit, "It's Raining Men", was also used on the Bridget Jones's Diary film soundtrack, and the video game, DDRMAX2 Dance Dance Revolution 7thMix. The song was released as the lead single from the album. "It's Raining Men" became a major hit worldwide, it peaked at number one in the United Kingdom and peaked in the top 10 in over 27 countries, becoming Halliwell's biggest hit to date. The song won her the International Song of the Year award at the 2002 NRJ Music Awards. The singles that followed, "Scream If You Wanna Go Faster" and "Calling", reached number eight and number seven in the United Kingdom, respectively. Halliwell released a special French edition of "Calling", titled "Au Nom de L'amour". In 2002 Halliwell was once again nominated at the BRIT Awards, this time for Best British Female Solo Artist and Best British Single for "It's Raining Men". Scream If You Wanna Go Faster has sold a million copies worldwide. In 2002 Halliwell was featured alongside Pete Waterman and Louis Walsh as a judge on the television series Popstars: The Rivals, which created Girls Aloud.
In late 2004 Halliwell made a return to music with the single "Ride It", which reached number four in the United Kingdom and number one on the dance charts. However, several months elapsed before another single was released, during which time she was apparently instructed to record some new tracks for the as yet unreleased album by her record company, which was unhappy with the setlist. Halliwell planned her first solo tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland, but due to lack of ticket sales, compounded by the label's pressure on Halliwell to record additional songs, led to the cancellation of the tour. Eventually, a new single, "Desire", was released on 30 May 2005, reaching number 22 in the UK Singles Chart and number one on the UK Dance Charts. Released shortly after, the source album, Passion, similarly received little attention from the public or critics, and stalled at number 41 in the British charts. Halliwell's recording contract with EMI was subsequently not renewed, and in subsequent interviews, Halliwell stated that she was not interested in recording another album at that time and was content with writing children's books and being a mother.
2007–2015: Spice Girls reunion, Australia's Got Talent and literary success
On 12 April 2007, it was announced that Halliwell had signed a six-book deal with Macmillan Children's Books. The books follow the adventures of nine-year-old Ugenia, a character based on Halliwell, alongside her friends Bronte, Rudy, and Trevor. The character Princess Posh Vattoria, a caricature of Halliwell's bandmate Victoria Beckham, was featured in early drafts, but has not appeared in the book series. Other characters are said by Halliwell to be loosely based on Gordon Ramsay, George Michael, Marilyn Monroe, Vincent van Gogh, Wayne Rooney and the character Justin Suarez from the TV series Ugly Betty. According to the official site, the book sold more than 250,000 copies in its first 5 months, making Halliwell 2008's most successful female celebrity children's author.
In 2007 the Spice Girls regrouped and announced plans for a reunion tour, from which they were said to have earned £10 million each (about US$20 million). The group's members said that they were still enjoying "doing their own thing". The group decided to tour as a quintet for the last time and release their first compilation album, a collection of their Greatest Hits. This album was released in early November 2007, and the tour began on 2 December 2007. During the reformation, film maker Bob Smeaton directed an official film of the tour, which he titled Spice Girls: Giving You Everything. In addition to their sell-out tour, the Spice Girls were contracted to appear in Tesco advertisements, for which they were paid £1 million each. In March 2010, vocal coach and singer Carrie Grant announced on ITV1's The Alan Titchmarsh Show that Halliwell would be making a return to music. In April 2010 Halliwell posted a message on her website, saying she was back in the studio and referring to Lady Gaga as one of her influences. In May 2011 reports suggested that Halliwell would be making a return to music. On 31 July 2011, Halliwell confirmed she had been working on her fourth album, stating of it, "The album's pretty much finished."
In February 2012 Halliwell announced that the fourth album was being mastered. In August 2012 she reunited with the Spice Girls to perform as a quintet for the last time at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in London. This was the last Spice Girls concert to feature Victoria Beckham. In 2010 Halliwell stood in for Dannii Minogue as a guest judge on The X Factor at the Glasgow auditions alongside Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh, and Cheryl Cole, and she returned again as a guest judge in 2012 at the Liverpool auditions this time stood in for Kelly Rowland who replaced Dannii Minogue the year before alongside Walsh, Gary Barlow, and Tulisa Contostavlos. In October 2012, Halliwell made her first solo performance in seven years at the Breast Cancer Care, debuting a new track called "Phenomenal Woman". In January 2013 Halliwell claimed that she had decided to shelve the album she had finished to continue writing and recording, moving in a different style direction. In April 2013 the Nine Network announced that she would become the fourth judge on Australia's Got Talent replacing Minogue.
On 5 September 2013, it was confirmed by Channel 9's NRL Footy Show (one of the longest-running shows in Australia) that Halliwell would be performing a world exclusive of "Half of Me", her first solo single in nearly eight years, at its grand final show. The performance took place on 3 October 2013, exactly one year after her last exhibition with new material at the Breast Cancer Care Show. On 12 September 2013, it was announced that the song "Half of Me" would be released exclusively in Australia, as part of a new deal with Sony Music Australia. The single was released on 25 October 2013 and reached number 281 in the Australian charts. Halliwell then took to her official blog to write about her upsetting experience back in the music business and hinted of possibly retiring for good. On the grand final of Australia's Got Talent, she performed an acoustic version of the Spice Girls' hit single "Wannabe".
2016–present: Second Spice Girls reunion and fourth album
As of 2016[update], Halliwell is working on new material for her fourth studio album, which has yet to be released after multiple delays. Three tracks were confirmed as of September 2015[update]: "Love and Light", "Phenomenal Woman", and "Sheriff".
In July 2016, Halliwell, Brown, and Bunton released a video celebrating the 20th anniversary of Spice Girls' debut single "Wannabe", and teased news from them as a three-piece; Beckham and Chisholm opted not to take part in a reunion project, with Brown saying that both members gave the three-piece their blessing to continue with the project. However, following Halliwell's announcement of her pregnancy, the project was cancelled.
In November 2016, 13 songs from Halliwell's fourth album, reportedly titled Man on the Mountain, were leaked onto the internet, including the previously confirmed tracks "Love and Light", "Phenomenal Woman", and "Sheriff". The following June, Halliwell released a charity single, "Angels in Chains", a tribute to George Michael, to raise money for Childline.
On 5 November 2018, the Spice Girls announced their reunion Spice World – 2019 Tour; Beckham declined to join due to commitments regarding her fashion business. The tour began in May 2019 and ended in June 2019.
In 1999, Halliwell wrote the autobiography If Only, in which she described her life as a Spice Girl. The book went on to top the best-seller lists and sold over a million copies in the UK alone. Halliwell donated the profits made from the sales of her autobiography to a Breast Cancer charity. In 2002, she released her second autobiography, Just for the Record, detailing her rise to fame and her turbulent celebrity lifestyle.
On 12 April 2007, it was announced that Halliwell had signed a six-book deal with Macmillan Children's Books. The books follow the adventures of nine-year-old Ugenia, a character based on Halliwell, alongside her friends Bronte, Rudy, and Trevor. The character Princess Posh Vattoria, a caricature of Victoria Beckham, was featured in early drafts but did not appear in the book series. Other characters are said by Halliwell to be loosely based on Gordon Ramsay, George Michael, Marilyn Monroe, Vincent van Gogh, Wayne Rooney, and the character Justin Suarez from the TV series Ugly Betty. According to the official site, the series sold more than 250,000 copies in its first five months, making Halliwell 2008's most successful female celebrity children's author.
In 2010, Halliwell partnered with British retailer Next to create a swimwear collection named "Geri by Next". This was followed by a Union Jack-motif clothing range in 2012, inspired by Halliwell's famous 1997 Union Jack dress.
In 1998, Halliwell became a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). In 2000 Halliwell appeared in the two-part documentary series Geri's World Walkabout for the BBC, which followed her work with the UN and other travels. That same year, she gave the opening address at the UN Youth Summit. Halliwell picked up further UN work in 2006, by visiting Zambia from 14 to 16 November, to promote greater international awareness of the urgent need to reduce maternal death and halt the spread of HIV/AIDS. In September 2009, Halliwell, in her role as a Goodwill Ambassador of UNFPA, visited Nepal to help launch a national campaign to stop violence against women.
On 25 October 2015, the Mail on Sunday reported that Halliwell had been in talks with the Department for Education with a view to establishing a free school in north London, scheduled to open in 2018 and specialising in the arts and business. Halliwell told the newspaper: "I believe in education. It’s an empowering fundamental human right that everyone deserves. Education is a foundation for life." The Department subsequently confirmed that it had spoken with Halliwell, but that discussions were at an early stage.
In the run-up to the 1997 general election, Halliwell declared: "I saw a lot of what Mrs. Thatcher did. She was definitely the original Spice Girl rising from the greengrocer's daughter to Prime Minister." She said her background was deeply rooted in support for the Conservative Party and that Thatcher was the pioneer of "Girl Power" and the spiritual sixth member of the Spice Girls. She said in 1996 that Tony Blair was "not a safe pair of hands for the economy". By the 2001 general election, Halliwell had switched her support to Tony Blair and the Labour Party, making a cameo appearance in one of their party election broadcasts.
Television, radio, and film
In May 1999, Halliwell appeared in a 90-minute documentary Geri for the British television channel Channel 4 by Molly Dineen. The documentary was a ratings success with 4.5 million viewers—almost one-fifth of available viewers—and Channel 4 aired it again one month later. She has also released two yoga DVDs with her yoga teacher Katy Appleton, Geri Yoga and Geri Body Yoga. Halliwell appeared as a judge on the UK talent show Popstars: The Rivals and as a guest reporter on celebrity-based series Extra in the US. She has also made appearances in the television series Sex and the City and in the 2004 film Fat Slags, based on characters from Viz magazine. In 2004, Halliwell appeared on Channel Five as one of the hosts of the Party in the Park event for the Prince's Trust, the presenter and main performer of the Tickled Pink Girls' night in Live! event and an appearance in a documentary There's Something About Geri. Halliwell appeared in the film Crank: High Voltage alongside her friend, actor John Damon, and on the BBC One's The One Show on 7 May 2009.
Halliwell acted as a guest judge on UK talent show The X Factor in 2010, and 2012 and she was a judge on season seven of Australia's Got Talent. She guest presented an episode of The One Show in October 2015. Halliwell appeared on episode three of the 2016 series of Sport Relief Bake Off. In March 2017, Halliwell presented the BBC Two documentary Geri's 90s: My Drive to Freedom as part of the BBC Music: My Generation series. She sat in for Zoë Ball on BBC Radio 2 in July 2017. She guest presented an episode of This Morning in August 2017 with Rylan Clark-Neal. In 2018, she was a judge on the Saturday night BBC One talent show All Together Now. In November 2020, Halliwell debuted an original YouTube series, Rainbow Woman, which she wrote, directed and served as an executive producer. The series features Halliwell taking part in series of vigenettes that follow her on different adventures.
Halliwell gave birth to a daughter, Bluebell Madonna, in May 2006. The child's father is screenwriter Sacha Gervasi with whom Halliwell was in a relationship in 2005; Victoria Beckham and Emma Bunton are godmothers. Halliwell began dating Christian Horner, the team principal of the Red Bull Racing Formula One team in February 2014. They announced their engagement on 11 November 2014, and the couple were married on 15 May 2015 at St Mary's Church in Woburn, Bedfordshire.
In October 2016, Halliwell revealed that Horner and she were expecting their first child together. Halliwell gave birth to her second child, a son, named Montague George Hector Horner, on 21 January 2017. Halliwell is stepmother to Horner's daughter, Olivia, from his previous relationship.
Halliwell has spoken out about her experiences of bulimia, saying that she came close to death, weighing just 7 stone (98 lb; 44 kg), and was advised by Robbie Williams to seek medical help. In 2011, she spoke of being comfortable with her body and credits her newly healthy relationship with food to motherhood.
Despite being a "girl power" icon, Halliwell publicly denounced being labelled as a feminist in a 2007 interview with The Guardian, for which she received wide-scale media attention: "For me, feminism is bra-burning lesbianism. It's very unglamorous...we need to see a celebration of our femininity and softness." Halliwell became a Christian after she previously self-identified as an agnostic.
- 1999: If Only
- 2002: Just for the Record
- 2008: Ugenia Lavender: The First Book
- 2008: Ugenia Lavender and the Terrible Tiger
- 2008: Ugenia Lavender and the Burning Pants
- 2008: Ugenia Lavender: Home Alone
- 2008: Ugenia Lavender and the Temple of Gloom
- 2008: Ugenia Lavender: The One and Only
|1990||Dance Energy||Herself||Uncredited; only as dancer-stagehand|
|1991||Let's Make a Deal||Herself||Uncredited; only as dancer-stagehand|
|1997–2004||Franklin||Badger||UK version (voice only)|
|1999||100 Greatest Women of Rock & Roll||Presenter||TV show|
|Al Salir de Clase||Herself||"Duelo en las calles" (Episode 63; Season 3)|
"Rebelión en las aulas" (Episode 65; Season 3)
|2002||Bo' Selecta!||Various roles||"Geri Halliwell" (Episode 4; Season 1)|
|Popstars: The Rivals||Mentor/Judge||Season 1|
|2003||All American Girl||Mentor/Herself/Judge||Season 1|
|Sex and the City||Phoebe Herrison||"Boy, Interrupted" (Episode 10; Season 6)|
|2004||Top Gear||Herself||"5.2" (Episode 2; Season 5)|
|2008||Friday Night Project||Presenter/Sely/Lissandra||Episode 5; Season 6|
|American Idol||Mentor/Judge||Episode 30; Season 7|
|2009||Head Case||Susan Galler||"Back in the Game" (Episode 5; Season 3)|
|2010||Come Fly With Me||Herself||"Pilot" (Episode 1; Season 1)|
|2010, 2012||The X Factor||Guest judge||Season 7 (Glasgow auditions judge)|
Season 9 (Liverpool auditions judge)
|2012||The Spice Girls Story: Viva Forever||Herself||Documentary about the Spice Girls|
|Trollied||Herself||"2012 Christmas Special"|
|2013||Australia's Got Talent||Judge||Series 7|
|2015||The One Show||Guest presenter||1 episode|
|2016||The Great Sport Relief Bake Off||Contestant||1 episode|
|2017||Geri's 90s: My Drive to Freedom||Presenter||One-off documentary|
|This Morning||Guest presenter||1 episode|
|Gordon, Gino and Fred's Great Christmas Roast||Participant||One-off special|
|2018—2019||All Together Now||Presenter / Judge|
|2019||RuPaul's Drag Race UK||Guest Judge||1 episode (Episode 4, Season 1)|
|1995||Foggy Notion||Sami||Main role|
|1997||Spice World||Ginger Spice|
|1999||Geri – A Film by Molly Dineen||Herself||TV film; documentary|
|2000||Geri's World Walkabouts||Herself||TV film; documentary|
|2004||Fat Slags: The Film||Paige Stonach|
|2005||There's Something About Geri||Herself||TV film; Documentary|
|2007||Giving You Everything||Herself||TV film; Documentary|
|2009||Crank: High Voltage||Karen Chelios|
|Ant & Dec's Christmas Show||Geri Doll||TV film|
|2012||Viva Forever – The Spice Girls Story||Herself||TV movie; Documentary|
Awards and nominations
|1999||Blockbuster Entertainment Award||Favourite Actress – Comedy||Spiceworld||Nominated||Shared with the Spice Girls|
|MTV Europe Music Awards||Best Female||Herself||Nominated|
|Smash Hits Poll Winners Party||Hero of 1999||Nominated|
|Best Female Artist||Nominated|
|2000||Brit Awards||Best British Female Solo Artist||Nominated|
|Best Pop Act||Nominated|
|Capital FM Awards||Best British Female Singer||Won|
|2001||Comet Awards||Best International Female Singer||Won|
|Radio Disney Music Awards||Best Soundtrack Song||"It's Raining Men"||Nominated|
|2002||Brit Awards||Best British Female Solo Artist||Herself||Nominated|
|Best British Single||"It's Raining Men"||Nominated|
|NRJ Music Awards||International Song of the Year||Won|
|International Female Artist of the Year||Herself||Nominated|
|2008||Bestselling female celebrity children's author of 2008||Ugenia Lavender||Won|
|2016||Attitude Awards||Honorary Gay||Herself||Won|
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