Featured Artist In Action: Michelle Hurst

It's Featured Artist In Action time again! And I am beyond excited to shine the spotlight on a supremely talented actress that I've had the pleasure of working with for quite some time: Michelle Hurst. If Michelle looks familiar to you, it's with good reason — outside of being a gifted stage performer, she's been popping up on some very well known television shows for a while now. Recently, however, she's found great success (and fabulous reviews) with her role on the "It" show of the moment, Netflix's Orange is the New Black. Let's turn things over to Michelle to hear about how she does what she does.

1. When you first started working with Capes Coaching, what were your goals?

I think I wanted to find out if I was doing everything "right," if there were any "tricks" I needed to learn to fast track my career. I soon realized that there are no "tricks"; there is simply being realistic about what you want and a method of thinking and doing that can keep you moving forward. I also had lost my zest for this business and I guess I wanted to find a way to get it back.

2. What have you accomplished since then?

As an actor living and working in New York, I have continued to work in theatre, film and television. There have been major roles on The Good Wife and Blue Bloods, and appearances in feature and independent films (I Don't Know How She Does It, Frances Ha). Theatre has always been my first love and in addition to countless readings (Rising Circle, The Lark, Rattlestick, New Dramatists and more), I have performed a one-person play, In This Place..., at the Downtown Arts Center/Lexington KY; 651 Arts-Irondale Ensemble Project/Brooklyn NY; The Kitchen Theatre/Ithaca NY; and The Painted Bride Theatre/Philadelphia PA. And most recently, I am proud to be a part of the new Netflix series, Orange is the New Black, in the role of Miss Claudette.

3. What has been your biggest career challenge and how did you overcome it?

Michelle Hurst as Miss Claudette in Orange is the New Black
Michelle Hurst as Miss Claudette in Orange is the New Black

It is very easy to lose your enthusiasm in this business. When your norm is rejection, it can be hard to find the resolve to continue in a positive way. There have been times when I have questioned my abilities, my place, even my own mind! But I have come to realize, with help from Betsy, that finding all the things you know about yourself, all the things you can do, right down to the simplest things, make up who you are and what you have to offer. They are all a part of the very unique YOU. Revel in them!

4. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting out?

I think we are all impatient as artists to show our "stuff" to the world and to be loved for it. I wish I had truly realized that it doesn't always happen in the way, and in the time you want it to. I have learned that acceptance and applause can come from anywhere and at any time — reading to little ones at my local bookstore, dancing my butt off at a workshop, or listening to an older gentleman tell of his childhood — all acceptance, all love, all part of your creative process. All reasons you do what you do.

5. What are you currently working on?

Betsy says always have three responses to this question and make them concise (short and sweet!)

  1. Starting voice lessons again with the hope of developing a cabaret act
  2. Developing a theatre cycle based on Euripedes' Medea (one of my faves!)
  3. Clearing the clutter from my apartment (major!)

6. Anything else you feel like sharing?

Working with Capes Coaching has always been an enlightening experience. Even in The Path Class when you don't want to face certain things, Betsy finds a way to make it simple and not so scary or painful. There has always been the pervasive attitude that they are there to help--not do it for you, but to help you discover the ways to do it yourself. And have fun as well!