Natalie Anderson hit the limelight starring in Emmerdale, but her latest project, The Capsule, seeks to shed light on women’s health issues. The Yorkshire actress tells us all about it
Why did you first launch The Capsule?
I was writing a fashion blog for Hello, back in 2015-16, and I decided I wanted to expand on that. It was just once a month and I really started to enjoy it. That was whilst I was on Emmerdale. I had this idea of calling it The Capsule because years ago I was told about having a capsule collection of clothes, and how you would have pieces that are really well invested and wear them all the time. The premise behind it was I wanted to source and find things for women when they didn’t have time to go and do it themselves.
Then I was really inspired by Gwyneth Paltrow, who obviously started goop, and that ended up a big wellness brand. It was a website, somewhere you could go and shop for all kinds of stuff, and there would be magazine interviews. So I started to get an idea that I wanted to create more of a website feel to it, and that was from 2017-18. That’s what I was doing very slowly because I was working full-time, and then in 2018 I was really struggling with my anxiety which I have had for a really long time, but I was really struggling privately with it. I had never discussed it in public, but I was finding products that were helping me and putting them on the website, saying this may help but not saying why. What I started finding was that those products and articles were doing the best, so it made me really think there was something going on here with women and mental health.
Then we did a live event and the whole thing started to snowball, it got bigger and bigger very quickly. This live event we did it was so obvious there were so many women who were not being supported in areas of wellbeing and mental health and women’s health in general, and I was able to share my story of having anxiety for the first time ever. It was really daunting but the women in the room were so amazing and it made me realise we needed to start opening up these conversations. That’s when the podcast was born and we have gone from there.
Do you enjoy creating The Capsule in Conversation podcasts?
I love them. I never expected to feel the way that I did doing the podcasts. I never expected it be what it is. We are into season seven now, three years in, and I can’t even believe we have had over 80 guests. It gives me so much joy because every single person has something different to say and something different that will relate to another woman. That for me is the most beneficial part, being able to share people’s stories with other women so they go “actually, yes, I relate to that, I am not alone”. If it makes people feel less alone or weird, then that’s the most rewarding part.
How do you find your guests?
Originally it was me being really cheeky and asking a load of my friends! Now as we have moved we are a bit more specific. We like to look for women who have got something to say, have got really inspiring stories, or the different angle on women’s health and wellbeing. We have done a massive push on the menopause and the peri-menopause this year, so we have looked for guests who have really important information or advice in that area. At the start of the year we will have our wishlist of people, but along the way we also get pitched people, and that can be really interesting, people who we have not necessarily heard before, but have brought something important to the podcast, where people need to hear this.
What have been the stand out episodes for you?
One of the key ones for me was Lindsey Burrow, Rob Burrow’s wife. We interviewed her in 2020, a year after Rob’s diagnosis [of MND], and that was an incredible episode and to have that opportunity to actually speak to Lindsey about her experience of dealing with Rob’s MND and them as a family was incredibly humbling. She is an amazing woman, so that episode definitely stood out for me.
We did an episode with Shirley Ballas. I love Shirley anyway, but to get to see a different side to her away from Strictly where she talked very openly about her brother, who took his own life, so that was a really emotional episode. It was very different to what people were expecting of Shirley, so that really sticks in my mind.
There are so many other ones… We did an episode recently with Diane Danzebrink, who is the founder of the Make Menopause Matter campaign. The things that she told me in that episode, the information that came about how support for women in that area is still lacking, was mind blowing. That stood out for me as an area we need change in.
What are your ambitions for The Capsule?
My dreams are really big! I’d like to see it develop several arms. We obviously have got the live events going, and I’d like to take the podcast on tour next year, but also from my point of view as an actor and writer I’d like to expand on the production side of things. Obviously we are producing the podcasts and live events, but I would eventually like to produce documentaries and television dramas with women at the heart of the stories. All of the things we have learnt on the podcast, all the different women we have spoken to, each has such an important story and I think they would make amazing dramas. For me eventually I would like one arm in terms of content, and the other side to be able to keep our website going as a resource and have support on there, information, possibly launch our own charity foundation maybe… It’s a long life, so hopefully we have got time to do it.
You are also an ambassador for Smart Works. What does the charity do?
Smart Works is an amazing charity and is something I am really passionate about. It’s a charity that helps to get vulnerable and unemployed women back into the workplace. Across the board there is a spectrum of women that need to get back into work, but have lost their confidence and wouldn’t know how to start with the interview process, and Smart Works helps to give them the confidence. They are referred to the charity, and then the volunteers at the centre in Leeds work with each client and they get a whole new outfit for an interview, plus a workwear outfit. We talk them through all about style and power dressing, how to present yourself, and how confidence can come through clothes and that really helps women. If a woman hasn’t got the right things to go into an interview situation from day one she is looking at herself in a different way. But when she feels good and walks through that door, she presents herself differently. There is also mentoring, one to one coaching before women go for an interview, because what we want to do is make sure every single woman has access to everything she needs, so when she walks into an interview situation she can be the best possible version of herself and bag the job. It doesn’t just benefit her, it benefits her family, her kids, her local community because she’s spending, so there is a massive knock on and ripple effect when you get people into work so I am really passionate about that.
How does all this fit in with your acting work?
It’s really hard! I have to be really particular about the things that I take on, I have to really think about the projects I put myself forward for, how it will work with family life, how it will work with the business. It is a lot of work and a lot to juggle. Hopefully, as we start to expand I can start bringing more people in. As I said, I am really passionate about wanting to create my own stuff as well, so if it means I have to step back a little bit to create that, then that’s the grand plan. It’s a lot of all hands on deck, juggling working patterns with my husband, friends being able to look after our son Fred when needed, so yes it is a lot of juggling. Sunday is my day for my family as much as possible, whether that’s Sunday walks, Sunday dinners, we need that time as a family to enjoy each other’s company. I need that normality as well.
How do you look back on your acting career to date?
I am really happy with it. I wouldn’t have thought at 12 when I started my first professional job that I would still be doing it 30 years later. I have been so fortunate to have done so many amazing things, with so many wonderful people, I have ticked a lot of boxes. I have been lucky enough to do the West End, to do soaps, to do films. I feel very fortunate I have had those opportunities. I am proud of myself and how I have managed to navigate in what is a really difficult industry, but I think for me it never stops. It’s always a hustle! But there’s been some good stuff in there.
Is Emmerdale the highlight?
I would probably say the film that I did with Guy Pearce and Liam Neeson, and Martin Campbell [Memory] last year is a highlight for me. Martin is the director of Casino Royale and I am a massive Bond fan, so to get to work with him was pretty cool.
You are Yorkshire born and bred – if you had to pick 3 places you love in the county, where would you choose?
You see this is the bit where I will cry! When I start to think about home, this is when I start to get really emotional. Ilkley Moor, 100%, my number one place. I have to start every new year with a walk on Ilkley Moor, otherwise the year goes bad! It’s my tradition now, to get up there and look out, it’s the most beautiful place to be.
Number two, Betty’s, either one of them, Betty’s in Harrogate and Betty’s in Ikley. It’s a tradition thing as well, it’s a special thing to go to Betty’s and get your egg custards and your cakes and things. That’s a massive piece of home for him.
Then my third place… This is a funny one, but I would say Leeds Bradford Airport. When I was little I used to go and watch the planes taking off and I love travelling so much, so for me the airport is a sense of adventure. I was so lucky to have it so close to where I live, it’s that freedom that we could hop off anywhere.
I just love home. I love the countryside, I love the people, I love my memories. There’s just something incredibly magical and special for me about the county. Everyone always says it, everyone is so friendly in Yorkshire, there’s a sense of camaraderie and work ethic and grit and determination that exists amongst the beauty of the county that I think is such an amazing juxtaposition of this hardness alongside this incredibly beautiful landscape.
What’s to come from you Natalie in 2023?
I don’t make resolutions, but what I would say is I would like to continue on the same path. Build on what we have got, don’t drop the ball, just keep rolling and hopefully keep going in the same direction. Just keep the momentum going.
The Capsule #inconversation is available to listen to on all major platforms including Spotify, Google and Apple – see more at thecapsule.co.uk