From humble beginnings to generational wealth, international dancehall superstar Spice is putting financial freedom in the spotlight in a new interview with Forbes Talks.
The Love and Hip-Hop: Atlanta star whose real name is Grace Hamilton sat down with one of the financial publication’s reporters, Rosemarie Miller for Forbes New Money. The 13-minute interview briefly highlighted Spice’s impoverished upbringing and the metamorphosis into her millionaire status today. According to the dancehall hitmaker, as a child, her financially challenged family of eight all lived together in a one-bedroom house where Spice and her five siblings shared a bed. She would also walk miles to school as they could not afford the luxury of paying for a bus or taxi ride.
As she has opened up about before, Spice was once left homeless after being burned out of her home. That being said, money has a whole new meaning now for the superstar. While being in a better economic position would have once alleviated some of the crises that would arise from a life plagued by financial woes, Spice is far from shortsighted. Her mission now is to bring generational wealth to her family.
Spice on being homeless and creating generational wealth
“My slogan right now is ‘from homeless to greatness’ because I was once homeless. I lost my house to fire, and I had nothing. I come from $0. I know what it’s like to look in my bank account and there’s nothing there… and now I’m a millionaire,” Spice revealed. “I feel like at the place that I’m at now, it’s just breaking generational wealth, that’s what money does for me. And that’s just what I was eager to do, I was eager to set up for my kids, a life that I didn’t have, and I feel like I’ve done that.
During the interview, Spice also revealed that she doesn’t trust anyone barring her actual mother who she says is the only name on her main bank account. “So di whole heap a millions wah me mek, a mama name deh pon it,” she quipped. It’s typical for uber successful figures of our society to encounter jealousy, betrayal and envy. The blue-haired dancehall heavyweight traces back her inaugural experience with this behavior to buying her first house and her first car which she recalls is when she started to lose old friends.
Spice first car and first job
Spice shared that her first car was a Toyota RAV4 and that she’s never actually had a normal job. Her stardom was ordained so quite befittingly, Spice began her artiste journey really early on at just 14 years old. “I never had a job. I left straight outta high school and I went into becoming an artiste. I started performing when I was just fourteen years old. So, I didn’t have the opportunity to do a 9-5. I [rose] to stardom pretty quickly because of my performance and my adaptability to perform so very well on stage so I started at [an] early age,” Spice explained.
Of course, since this is a Forbes interview, viewers were anticipating that the reporter would go poking around Spice’s pockets and bank accounts. The reality TV star already disclosed that she has millions of dollars so how much more was she willing to divulge? Interestingly enough, Spice went on to reveal her biggest money mistake, biggest splurge and what her first move is when she makes a lump sum.
The Jamaican superstar said she once bought a house back home in cash and though she doesn’t think it was a mistake, she admits that she often forgets she has the property. While the home is just sitting there uninhabited, Spice sometimes reflects on how that money could have been used to capitalize on other revenue streams. Granted, investors seldomly err when they go for real estate and as this is one of many properties in Spice’s portfolio and on a beautiful, coveted island, it is almost guaranteed to turn a profit when she is ready to give it the attention an investment of that magnitude needs.
As for her biggest splurge, Spice was hesitant to reveal the number on the bottom line of those store receipts at the mall. The “So Mi Like It” singer let it slip that shopping is a guilty pleasure of sorts for her. Spice, who likes the finer things in life, was open about her fondness for luxurious bags, clothes, shoes and more. This apparently results in her blowing a couple hundred bands at the mall every now and then. “I’m addicted to shopping because I like nice clothes and shoes and bags. I feel like my biggest splurge is just going [to] the mall and just…” Spice paused, eyeing the interviewer, admitting that she is reluctant to say the figure before casually adding, “…blowing a couple hundred thousand, you know.”
Spice has been in the industry for two decades now and she believes that her current financial position is the product of hard work over those 20 years. One important gem that she left in the interview was that it’s not the amount of money you make but how much you retain – save and invest. The dancehall star says she is big on investing and it’s often her first move when she makes a lot of money. “I’m a businesswoman so the first thing I do when I make a lot of money, I try to find [a] new business, another stream of income to add to the [existing] streams of income that I have. So, I’m kind of big on that,” said Spice.
The topic of various streams of income is something that fans and detractors alike are often curious about. Thankfully, Spice satiated that curiosity by revealing what her multiple streams of income actually are. The TV personality and music star has her online boutique, Graci Noir; she has had multiple businesses including a restaurant and, in the past, a salon; she also dabbles in real estate and has a number of properties at home and abroad; and most obviously she is a reality TV star and an artiste. The Grammy-nominated artiste says the latter is the most profitable part of her business model, specifically, her live performances.
Spice is different from Grace Hamilton
Elsewhere in the interview, Spice distinguished between her artiste persona and Grace Hamilton – two sides of herself that she says are the antithesis of each other. Spice explained, “Grace Hamilton is the total opposite from Spice. I’m Grace Hamilton, that is who I am. A lot of people would never get to meet the real me because they get to know that persona I created. That’s that blue hair, that image, the persona that goes on the stage and performs and gives you a good show. But that’s not Grace Hamilton, there’s a difference. I feel like that persona is just for entertainment purposes.”
She continued, “When I get off stage, I metamorphosize back into my real self which is just that humble girl, down to earth, wish I didn’t have to wear the wigs and the makeup and the lashes. Just at home cooking, singing my gospel. That’s just who Grace Hamilton is.”
“When the saucy side come out, that’s Spice but when I’m more calm and laid back, that’s Grace Hamilton,” the dancehall star added.
A calmer Spice with a cooler head has prevailed amidst the table flipping drama with Erica Mena as well. An incident that the Love and Hip-Hop star appears to no longer be affected by. When quizzed about it, Spice told the reporter that she is proud of her blackness and nothing Mena said defines her. While she was triggered in the beginning, she is in a better space now as she knows who she is, she knows what comes with the franchise and what she signed up for.
When asked if reality TV was worth her peace of mind, Spice insisted that she does have her peace of mind and it will not be taken from her. “Not because someone thinks something of me, that doesn’t mean that’s who I am. I’m the person that came out with colorism (“Black Hypocrisy”) a few years ago. I’m black and beautiful and mi nah bleach. Proud a mi color. I’ve been done it, said it all, always reminding my melanated women how beautiful they are, to love themselves [for] who they are. Someone can’t come and say few words and that’s gonna get me into a mood like… No, that doesn’t define me, I know who I am.”
Spice’s story from homelessness to greatness is a moving tale that follows her triumphant journey from having nothing to having everything. The inspiration has not dwindled over the years either even while the TV star has shared the saga on several occasions. Such an inspiring story deserves to be immortalized in film. Could a documentary be on the horizon for Spice?