If you’re looking for someone to dish out dating advice, teach you about manifesting a deck, and make you laugh so hard your stomach hurts, Heléne Yorke is going to be your new best friend.
When you meet a fellow Canuck out in the wild there’s suddenly no need for formalities; there’s a natural understanding you don’t pronounce the second T in “Toronto” and that it’s easier to say you’re from there or Vancouver to alleviate any confusion that would arise if you were to say you’re from… Literally anywhere else in the country. This is the reason why actress Heléne Yorke gasps with glee and excitement when she discovers that I’m a fellow Canadian, immediately sharing that her father tells everyone they are from Vancouver instead of Winnipeg, serving as “a little joke that only we would understand.” Sharing these side conversations with Yorke while in the middle of an interview is exactly why she is so undeniably captivating; you never exactly know where her story or tidbit is going to lead, you’re just thankful she’s bringing you along for the journey. While some thrive on keeping their cards close to their chests, Yorke is the complete opposite; she wants you to understand the story she’s sharing and, even better, she wants you to be in on the joke.
She brings the same collective warmth to her character Brooke Dubek on The Other Two, a show that has garnered a zeitgeist cult following since the first season due to its timely pop culture references and hilarious writing. When audiences first meet Brooke, she is a has-been dancer squatting in the apartments she’s meant to be selling. Much like her brother Cary (played by Drew Tarver), she is deeply down on her luck and, if you haven’t guessed it yet, they make up the two of the show’s title. While they flounder, their charming younger brother goes viral online a la Justin Bieber and, just like every single adolescent male with over 5 million followers on TikTok, he gets snatched up by a record label. At its core, the show is about unabashedly following your dreams while also allowing them to adapt, grow, and change as you get older, some life advice from Brooke that Heléne Yorke is embracing.
1883 Magazine’s Kelsey Barnes chats with Heléne Yorke about everything from The Other Two, dating advice for your 20s, allowing yourself the space to mess up, and more.
Let’s chat about how you’ve grown since your first acting gig in 2010 — when you look back over the last decade, how would you describe your time as an actress?
To be completely honest with you, it was hard for me at the beginning. I went to school for theatre so I was approaching acting as if I was performing for a theatre full of people instead of the smaller scale, more intimate way TV & film are created. What I love about doing camera work is that it’s forgiving in the sense that every little thing and every single nuance about your face are suddenly all ten times larger. It was a weird process to get comfortable with. I heard Nicole Kidman never watches anything she does and I totally understand why.
I feel that way about listening to my transcriptions! I want to apologize to every person who has to listen to me.
Yeah, you become weirdly intimately acquainted with yourself. We only know ourselves as the people we see in the mirror, not really realizing what your face looks like when you look in a certain direction or laugh a certain way. Getting comfortable with myself was definitely the biggest change for me.
I’ve heard that from actors quite a bit. Getting used to feeling like you need to project on-stage and then completely tone that down for on-screen must feel like whiplash.
Yeah, if I had a nickel every time somebody asked me to do the same thing but smaller, I would be rich! [Laughs]
I’m dying to talk to you about The Other Two! I love Brooke so much; I feel like she’s going to be one of those iconic characters we will look back on in 20 years.
I love that you love Brooke. I describe her as somebody who chooses to dive headfirst into a pool but doesn’t check to see if there’s water in it yet. That is the thing I adore most about her; she has this wild abandon to try anything and do anything at any moment, choosing to figure it out in the end rather than having a plan from the start. Recently I’ve been adopting this mentality in my own life and it’s something I’m finally catching up with now in my mid-30s. Shit just always works out whether you spend a lot of time freaking out or not. It’s not always your job to figure out what the solution is, you know what I mean? I find that so refreshing and that’s why I love Brooke; she does something and says she’ll pick up the pieces later.
As a 28-year-old who feels like a mess all the time, it’s great to hear this.
You’re 28? Well, let me tell you a story: when I was your age, I worked at Physique 57 and I would sign people up and get their addresses. I would Google where they would live and I’d see these women with their huge engagement rings and fancy addresses and they were paying for $35 exercise classes. I was so fascinated by how they were affording this — like what in your life makes spending this on a class feasible and something you just casually do? They would miss class and swallow that $35! Sometimes $35 is all I had to live on that week. It was insane to me. Sometimes if I knew they had a significant other, I would think, “How do you have a boyfriend and I don’t?! I’m a good person, I should be dating somebody!”
As someone who was once 28, here’s my hot-take for you: you don’t want to marry the person you’re with when you’re 28! I was single at 28 and started dating somebody because I felt like I should be dating someone and it didn’t work out. I remember the last time I was single I was sitting on my couch thinking, “You better enjoy this because at some point you’re going to meet somebody and he’s never going to leave!” and now I’m getting married next week and he’s always around! I never get to watch Gossip Girl because he’s always watching Billions!
All of this is to say: just enjoy this messy & free time in your life because you get to watch Gossip Girl and I don’t.
You truly are the best — I plan on living my Brooke-inspired life well into my 30s. Also, congrats on getting married and having a hit show on your hands! What was it like returning to film after Covid halted production last Spring?
We had really grand visions for the future… We were quite bright-eyed and bushy-tailed… and then it all came to a crashing halt. Maybe this is too magnanimous for me to say but there were so many people going through exactly the same thing so the last thing I could worry about is my TV show pausing. The beginning was like a marker of the times; stepping back into the character feels like I’m back in this place that makes me feel like myself again. Does that make sense?
It does. It’s like returning to a sense of normality. When I refer to 2020 it feels like it was both six years ago and last month at the same time.
I’ve been looking back at photos from the set and I just kept thinking who is that person? It feels like an entirely different time. It’s hard to shoot during COVID but just seeing my friends again and being able to laugh with one another while making something we all love so much is something I’ll never take for granted. I’m just so excited that people are getting to see the second season now.
It’s funny to see the contrast between the beginning of the first and second season — in the first, Brooke is literally squatting in an apartment she’s trying to sell and this season begins with her strutting to a cafe… to scroll on TikTok to find the next Chase. She ends up managing both her brother and her mum. Despite being messy, there’s so much humanity to her and it’s really lovely to watch.
That’s what I love about her — she doesn’t wish ill on anybody else. It’s so easy to see other people’s success as your own failure because we see it on a near-constant basis. I think one of the reasons the show is successful is that it veers so far away from that. Instead, it’s about getting what you want and going after it and that having nothing to do with your outside relationships. It’s almost like the show exists in a world without social media even though it’s played up and we reference it a lot, but without the feeling like everyone is worried about what everyone else has. Brooke and Cary go through the struggle of that which is fun, but they realize that just because they get the thing they’ve been chasing doesn’t mean they’ll finally be happy.
Because as soon as you get that thing, you want something else.
Yep, you just keep moving the goalpost for yourself. I think it’s good to want things and to have ambition, whether that’s fantasizing about the bigger house or the bigger job, but you also have to remember there’s a lot of mundanities that happen in the meantime. A great example is that I’m having this big moment today but I’m at home, in my sweats, doing laundry.
There’s a beautiful juxtaposition there — everyone is saying you’re doing all of this amazing stuff while you’re at home, talking to me, getting ready to put another load of laundry in!
Exactly! Like, I have to use regular Tide because they were out of the gentle version! [Laughs] It’s important to me to look back at the big leaps. I read an old journal that I would use to manifest stuff and I said in my early 20s that I wanted an outdoor space — I even cut out a picture of an outdoor dining area and taped it in. That was 15 years ago and now I have an amazing deck in my apartment. You have to remember the dumb stuff that happens in between the big stuff.
I think that that’s what was so fun about the characters this season for Cary and Brooke — they’ve both made progress but it’s still hard for them. People ask us what we want for our characters and I always think about how refreshing it is that no matter where they are, they bring their shit with them. That’s so normal; there’s not always a ‘happily ever after’ for everything. A great example is that I’m getting married and he’s going to be around all the time but he is also never going to leave! [Laughs] I’m kidding… of course!
I don’t think there’s any other show that does pop culture references like The Other Two — the episode where Chase guest-edits Vogue and the line about the other Hadid only being released now because their features only just set in had me dying. I feel like you must be dying sometimes when you read the script.
We get sent all of the scripts at once and before our lives were about to be total shit at the beginning of 2020, Drew [Tarver] and I will live-text with the writers as we read them. We’ll just send a text that says “Haha, the new Hadid! Chex Mix bitch!” It becomes this thread of support because they’ve been working and writing on it for so long.
We touched a bit on this already, but one of my favourite scenes this season is the end of that episode where Brooke looks into the bar and sees people drinking and realizes she doesn’t want that life, which I thought was such a beautiful moment.
I love that it stood out to you. I find myself doing that, too. You think you need this and that and nostalgia really is a trap. Nowadays, I can do two big nights out a year because I never want to leave my house! [Laughs] A lot of it just comes with getting older, but it also comes with just enjoying your own company.
The beauty of characters like Brooke and Cary is that they literally could be anyone you know. How do you approach a character like Brooke? Is there anything you typically do to prepare?
I wouldn’t say there’s anything I do specifically to prepare, but I strongly believe one of the reasons you book something is because something naturally lives within you. I’ve done auditions where I just knew I wasn’t the right fit because it didn’t feel natural. What’s amazing about the writers is a lot of it is written to how we speak and act as actors, which is one of the most flattering and offensive things on the planet. I love that you’re seeing me but I also hate that you’re seeing me! [Laughs] They are amazing writers because they are holding a mirror up to us which is a little unnerving but incredible to work through as an actress.
With theatre, you’re doing it 8 times a week and it’s the same thing every time. With TV, you have a couple of hours to get a scene right and that’s it. Chris [Kelly] and Sarah [Schneider] will be on the set all of the time and say “Hey, can you say that the way you normally say it?” or “Can you make the face you normally make when you say that?” And I’ll know exactly what they are talking about. It’s an incredibly unique job in that way. I’m sure it would be different if I was Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown! [Laughs]
A question I love to ask as a way to end the interview — if you could manifest one thing for yourself this year, what would it be?
I would have to say… a bigger deck! [Laughs] Honestly, I just want to keep expanding on my creativity. I’ve been writing with my friend Max and we wrote something for ourselves and I think it would be cool for my career to expand in ways beyond getting cast in something and that being my job. It would be cool to start making stuff myself. I would manifest that.
The Other Two is streaming on HBO Max now.
Interview by Kelsey Barnes
Photography by Emilio Madrid