Betsy Capes is the mastermind behind Capes Coaching, the premiere coaching group for artists in New York City, and now, due to the launch of their incredibly accessible Artists In Action software, for artists all over the world! As an actor who has coached at Capes, I can’t recommend the detailed, committed, passionate, extremely effective and uncompromisingly thorough coaching that Capes offers any artist who wants to nurture and grow their career. And, it’s a ton of FUN!!!
Love and Water- I’m so excited, Betsy, to be sharing the brilliance of Capes Coaching with the Love and Water community. Can you talk about what you do and how it began?
Betsy Capes- I started Capes Coaching six years ago this April, when I was working as a casting director. I saw what seemed to me an epidemic of actors who I knew were working really hard and constantly feeling unsatisfied with the state of their careers. I would see actors who I knew had incredible personalities and were brilliantly talented walk into an audition room and lose their authenticity because they felt so beaten down by what they considered being rejected by the industry. It occurred to me that what actors need most is to focus on bringing their full selves to the way that they run their business. If they knew how to run their business without compromising their personal lives or their art, I couldn’t imagine how successful they could become. The idea of supporting them and helping to fully navigate them through the entertainment industry really excited me. I thought wow, this is really a tough business, and I have the gift of having been on the other side so how can I help make actors and artists struggle a little bit less. So that’s how it started. My sister Jodie helped start the business with me. We started working with just actors, but have grown into working with artists from all fields- writers, directors, producers, photographers, you name it.
L&W- One of the most genius aspects of your coaching is The Path Class. Can you talk about what that is?
BC- Yes, well we started primarily as a private coaching business, which has always been the backbone of our business. The Path Class was born out of a lot of the patterns and trends I was observing in my private clients. I thought about how everyone needed to look at how we can both set our goals while creating balance in our lives at the same time. I knew from my coaching that any artist could run their business, support themselves and take care of their personal needs simultaneously once they had a system in place. It’s such a great challenge, and I wanted to put all of those tools into a class where we could work on these goals in supportive group setting. That was the birth of The Path Class. I started teaching it as a huge one-day workshop about five years ago, but we quickly decided it would be much more effective to teach the material over the course of six weeks in order to give artists the time and space to plan their Paths for the next year. We work through goal setting techniques, time management practices and a map that each person designs for their individual career and personal tracks. And as you know, we keep the classes very small and intimate so each person can get one-on-one coaching while gaining the benefits of doing this work in a supportive group setting. It really has become our main focus. Jodie and I realized after teaching it for the four or fifth time that we really had something important going on in this class, so we decided to hone in on it and make it our core service.
L&W- I know how powerful The Path class was for me, but I’m wondering what indication you and Jodie had that told you how unique and effective the class was for your students.
BC- I think it was seeing the impact the work was having on actors and artists and the amount of confidence and control we were seeing people walk away with. There is so much that is absolutely out of our control in the arts industry, so when we help people zero in on what they do have control over, it brings a sense of power back into their work and their personalities. Amazing things happen as a result. They walk out with a process on how to work toward their goals, a process for what to do when their work doesn’t go their way and they have a process on how to stay consistent and not lose momentum as they are working for what they want. We watched what happened to those who stayed committed to their Paths, and were just blown away by the stories they came back to tell us.
L&W- Do you still offer private coaching services?
BC- Yes, although I do feel that private coaching is more effective after having taken The Path Class, because it gives you a set of goals and a language to work with, which can make private coaching so much more specific. But we’ve now created our Artists In Action online software, which we just launched at the end of February, that anyone can use as a tool if they can’t manage to take The Path Class. So we’re very excited about that!
L&W- How does Artists In Action work?
BC- Artists In Actionis a comprehensive online career-based planning tool designed for actors, artists and creative professionals. We have audio lectures, special guest interviews, career planning tools and exclusive resources that are delivered weekly to your email inbox. Members get coaching on a new topic every month. Our first month is called “Being In Your Business,” and I talk about the four main “artist traps” that I see artists struggle with as they work on staying committed to the business long-term. We have courses on time management, managing your business, life/career balance, marketing and all areas of the business that are essential to maintain but can feel overwhelming to many artists. So we’re giving customized support to create successful careers on your own time and budget. That is the most exciting part of this project- that it is the most affordable service we’ve ever been able to offer, and that’s just awesome. For only $17.00 a month you get this whole package of tools that are customized to help you stay on your own path.
L&W- It must be amazing for anyone who has already taken The Path Class as well.
BC- It’s especially great for anyone who has taken the time to invest in The Path Class, and to invest in their own careers. We really want to invest in supporting artists throughout the year in a way that is affordable. The first month is free for all members, so anyone can try it and see how it works for them with no strings attached. And it’s for artists all over the world, at any level of their artistic career.
L&W- How are you getting the word out about Artists in Action?
BC- This is the most fun part of our process. We have so many ideas in terms of marketing, and for us it was just a matter of creating it. We have the good fortune of having been in business for over five years, so our database is huge. We have so many artists who are now in L.A., Chicago and all over the country, so we’re able to spread the word through them. I’m from St. Louis, and when I go home and talk to my friends about our business they all wish that they could experience it for themselves, and now they can. It’s really exciting, and we will be continuing to tailor it as we get feedback to make sure it meets everybody’s needs.
L&W- What is the most moving moment you’ve had with Capes Coaching?
BC- There have been so so many, and boy is that a tough question because I could go on for hours about the endless number of moments that have moved me. I hesitate to attach it to one of our most successful clients, but it really is one of the most moving to me. Working with Lennon Parham, and having sat with her in the coaching room for years, she was clearly so committed to her coaching work. She was someone I always knew had the talent and skill but I was continuously blown away by her dedication to investing in her business, especially when there wasn’t much going on for her. Those are the times when I see artists get frustrated and feel stuck and discouraged. But that was when Lennon did some of her greatest work, because she was dedicated to creating it herself, and making it happen. All of the success that she has achieved up to this point is just remarkable. She is now in L.A. starring in the sitcom “Accidentally On Purpose” with Jenna Elfman- she plays her sister- and that’s great and wonderful, because it is definitely a success story. But what is really amazing is to see when she comes in and we check in with where she is. No matter where she is on the success meter she knows that the work doesn’t end there. In fact, it presents new struggles and challenges, which she so eagerly works on just as consistently as she did when she was first starting out. Her ability to stay true to who she is just blows me away, and it’s such an honor to work with someone like her. And the best part is that I’ve got hundreds of other stories like her. There is so much dedication and heart that goes into coaching and working on this side of one’s career, and there is a lot of vulnerability around it. So to see people invest their time and money and energy into working on enjoying their business is just remarkable. It’s a gift for me to be able to work with all these amazing artists.
L&W- I also know you are doing some coaching to benefit the victims of Haiti- can you talk about that?
BC- We wanted to find a way to help Haiti. For the past few years we’ve been doing these 20/20 promotional events, where we offer 20 minutes of coaching for $20.00. It’s a one-day event that anyone can sign up for where I coach 20 people to introduce them to our coaching, or give a refresher session to those who have coached with us before. So we thought we would do a 20/20 where all of the proceeds went to support Haiti. We did our first one last week, and it went so well that we decided to do another one this week. We’re going to do another one soon- it’s been a blast, and it adds a whole other layer of satisfaction in coaching for me. We decided we want to do one every month so we can keep giving to such an important cause.
L&W- That’s so amazing, and no doubt very satisfying. Is there anything else you want everyone to know about Capes Coaching?
BC- I think what you’re doing is amazing, because I think creating resources for artists that help them remember they aren’t alone out there- because I know artists can so often feel isolated- is so important. I think there is an inherent sense of faith that anyone has if they are courageous enough to pursue a career as an artist. Not just as a hobby, but to really go for it. It requires a certain amount of faith that is easy to lose sight of. I want artists to find the support and resources that are out there- because there are so many resources out there- in order to continue to nurture their creative spirits and the sense of faith that got them into this business in the first place. That is what Capes Coaching aims to do.