From Baby Spice to solo artist and dancing queen, Emma Bunton has done plenty of growing up since her girl-group heyday. The pretty blonde - who won a beauty contest at the age of three - had her sights set on stardom right from the start.
Born on January 21, 1976, in North London to a milkman dad and karate instructor mum, Emma loved to perform in front of her family. "I remember dancing around the front room pretending to be one of the Supremes," she once recalled.
Aged four she begged her mum for dancing lessons, which were paid for by her modelling work. A scholarship to London's Sylvia Young Theatre School followed, and she continued her training with a BTech in performing arts at college in Barnet.
After finishing her studies Emma landed small roles in The Bill
, making it down to the last six for the role of Bianca in the latter, a part which eventually went to Patsy Palmer. It was two weeks after that knock-back that she got the call which would change her life. The fifth member of the Spice Girls
decided to go to university just four weeks after the band had been formed, giving Emma the chance to join what would become one of the most successful all-female musical outfits of all time.
At age 18 she was the youngest of the pop hopefuls and was quickly dubbed Baby Spice - a tag that has remained with her ever since. The singer, who was 12 when her parents' marriage broke down, maintains her girl power came from mum Pauline who she describes as her best friend. "I truly believe in it. It wasn't just a marketing ploy for the Spice Girls," she insists.
Emma, along with Melanie Chisholm
, Victoria Adams, Geri Halliwell
and Melanie Brown, went on to sell 53 million records and achieve worldwide fame. After the release of the album Forever
, however, the girls decided to take a break to focus on their solo efforts. Emma soon found a role as a TV presenter, but in 2001 was back with the single What Took You So Long?
and a new album, A Girl Like Me
Stereotyped as the sweet girl next-door, Emma admits turning 30 was a milestone. "I didn't freak out about it at all
But it does make you think about the future and what you want out of life." And what she wanted included Jade Jones, a former singer with boy band Damage
, whom she met when she was 21 and he was 19. "He is absolutely the man for me," she says.
Having successfully carved a niche post-Spice Girls the bubbly blonde, who shares a sprawling home in Hertforshire with Jade, returned to her first love dancing in 2006. She became an immediate hit with the audiences of Strictly Come Dancing
, impressed everyone with her fancy footwork alongside professional Darren Bennett. It also revealed another facet of her personality: "I think I've only ever let the public see one side of me - the cheery, happy person," she says. "So Strictly Come Dancing
was an opportunity to show another side
It proves that I'm moody in the mornings. I can be grumpy and throw strops like everyone else."
The hugely popular BBC series also coincided with the release of her charity single Downtown
and third solo album Life In Mono
. "It's about me finally moving on, putting the past behind me," she says of the disc. "I really feel now that this is me - having found my feet and my style - on my own."
In August 2007, delighted parents Emma and Jade welcomed their first child - Beau Lee - into the world. The singer didn't have much time to sit back and enjoy being a first-time mum, though - as two months previously she'd reunited with the Spice Girls and announced a sell-out world tour. Baby went on the road with the girls in December and the tour was a phenomenal success. However, in February 2008 they announced that they were going their separate ways once more.