Mel B revealed that her father died after a five-year battle with cancer and last week, the star filed for divorce from her husband, Stephen Belafonte

By Mariah Haas
March 28, 2017 05:35 PM
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Credit: JB Lacroix/WireImage

All of the America’s Got Talent judges—Howie Mandel, Simon Cowell and Heidi Klum—are proving to be a great support system for costar Mel B, who has been going through a difficult time in her personal life.

“We all go through tough times and we need people around us who care and matter and are there and are strong for us—and we’re all there for her, ” Mandel told PEOPLE at the show’s season 12 kick-off in Pasadena, California, on Monday.

Earlier this month, the 41-year-old revealed that her father died after a five-year battle with cancer—and last week, the former Spice Girl filed for divorce from her husband, Stephen Belafonte, after nearly 10 years of marriage.

“Mel’s going through a rough time,” Mandel said of the star, whose first public appearance since filing for divorce was at the event.

“I’ve been friends with her for a few years now and I love her and I mean that. Not just love what she does. I love her,” added Mandel. “And we’re all there for her and we talk off-camera.”

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But what’s most “amazing” to Mandel about his friend and costar is “how strong she is as a human being,” he says.

“She’s a great mom. She’s a great daughter. She was there when her father passed away, and [she’s a] great sister,” he continued. “She’s going through a divorce and the loss of her father, but as soon as that camera rolls, I’ve never seen anybody so strong, so witty, so powerful, so right there. I always thought [the Spice Girls’] girl power was a brand, but she lives it and epitomizes girl power.”

Klum also shared that she believes “it’s good” at times “when you have to work and be distracted.”

“I think it definitely helped her that we were working so much,” said Klum. “Because sometimes it’s good when you have to work because it keeps things off your mind.”

“And you see a lot of fun acts,” continued Klum. “So that gets you to laugh too, which is great in those hard times. But we’re a family and we help each other.”

Cowell, who praised Klum about “genuinely” being a “good friend” to the singer, says that he’s personally “gotten to know Mel well over the years.”

“So, I kind of know what she’s going through. I mean, dealing with a lot in one go,” he says. “But in a weird way, this is a good distraction for her.”