She may be best known for playing feisty Alicia Metcalfe in ITV soap Emmerdale, but Natalie Anderson has done so much more.
The Bradford-born actress is also a singer (she was a finalist in Pop Idol), presenter, blogger, and now businesswoman.
In 2016, the year after leaving Emmerdale, she started The Capsule, a website and blog where she wrote about fashion and beauty and shared recommendations with her friends and followers.
But after Natalie struggled in silence with her own anxiety for many years, The Capsule changed direction in the last year.
“I wanted to write about the things that I have found helpful but I was scared to say why as then I would have to tell people about my issues with anxiety.”
But when she attended a skin care event with around 20 other women, they ended up talking about their problems, and Natalie realised The Capsule could be far more than just a beauty and fashion blog.
“I knew that I could really help other women. It is all about sharing information. And so I decided to hold a wellness event in Leeds for about 80 women where they could listen to speakers, ask questions, share experiences but above all have fun,” she explains.
“But a friend made me realise that to do that I also had to share my experiences with anxiety. It was really frightening and I was nervous about telling people, I suppose about being me as an actress you are always hiding behind a character. This time it was the real me. And although it was scary it was amazing and the reaction I have had has been incredible.
“Talking about my anxiety is not something I have ever chosen to publicly disclose. I felt it necessary to give my reasons for why certain topics or products were so important to my own personal well-being in the hope that they could be of benefit to someone else experiencing the same.”
Following the event, which also featured Natasha Hamilton, Natalie was inundated with requests from people wanting to hear more.
“It gave me the idea for doing a series of ‘ In Conversation’ podcasts, asking my guests the questions people want answered.”
She says it is part of her mission to support and empower women across the region, and beyond, through sharing the everyday struggles she battles of being a stressed-out working mum, along with those of her co-presenters, and her special guests.
Natalie says what started out as a bit of a hobby, sharing articles and fashion and beauty tips, is now a full-time job. She has a second well-being event taking place this Saturday (tickets £35).
Growing up in a poor part of Bradford, money was tight and Natalie has a great sense of responsibility when charging people to attend her events.
“I know how hard people work to learnt their money, My mum had two jobs and we didn’t have much money so I am very aware that I want to give them value for money.”
Natalie started dancing when she was just five and then at Intake School, in Leeds, excelled in drama and music, before attending LIPA (The Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts).
In her twenties, she started her own record label and brought out an album. Her first break in acting was in The Royal and she has done musical theatre, including a year-long West End run in Wicked before landing the role of Alicia in Emmerdale which she played for five years before deciding to leave.
“I really enjoyed playing Alicia. It was a challenge as she is very different from me, but I wanted to me a proper mum to (her son) Freddie and I also felt that I had taken the character as far as she could go.”
She’d started The Capsule while still at Emmerdale having always had a passion for fashion, beauty and writing – she had her own column in Hello magazine and has also done stints presenting on This Morning.
“I have always been into fashion,” explains the 38 year old, who lives in Leeds with husband James and Freddie, now seven.
“My dad had a hair salon in Bradford and he had a subscription to Vogue and from an early age I remember looking through the magazines and just loving all the fashion. At LIPA I would always chose the dresses and style the other students for their proms, I just loved it.” She says she hasn’t turned her back on acting, but The Capsule is taking up all her time at the moment.
“I am working 17-hour days but I can fit them in around Freddie which is important to me. The website gives me a platform to share therapies, articles and products that help women feel better about themselves and The Capsule live events allow me to bring women together to let them know they are not alone in the fight against anxiety and mental health issues. Through a variety of different mediums, our online content, podcast and live events my aim is to empower women and help them feel connected and not isolated and confident in their own skin.”
She has big plans for The Capsule, which could expand into areas such as men, children, home and travel. She admits that she is inspired by Gwyneth Paltrow and her brand Goop. “Difference is there is only me and my very small team running The Capsule,” says Natalie. “I never wanted it to be all about me, hence the name. I just hope that we can do some good.”
The Capsule Fashion & Body Event takes place on Saturday at Aspire Leeds. For tickets and details, visit www.thecapsule.co.uk