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Acting Up: Heléne Yorke


Welcome to ACTING UP, the place where we celebrate standout performances in TV, streaming and film. Other than spotlighting exceptional work from recent projects, this feature also shines a light on how certain actors got where they are today. Have a peek and then check out these notable performances to help hone your craft.

 

The Snapshot:

Heléne Yorke plays a fame-hungry, former dancer trying to ride her family’s wave of celebrity in the HBO Max comedy, The Other Two.

(Season two premiered August 26th on HBO Max. New episodes drop every Thursday.)

 

The Performance:

When your little brother Chase Dreams is super internet famous and you’ve already chased your dreams – and failed – how far would you go to glom on before feeling like you’ve sunk too low?

In the case of Brooke Dubek (Heléne Yorke) on The Other Two, luckily there is no ‘too low’ – but there is a role to be played if you’re willing to start at the bottom and do the dance. Not the dance you were professionally trained to do mind you, but the one that comes with being fame adjacent. Welcome to The Other Two, a show created by two former SNL writers (Sarah Schneider and Chris Kelly), which premiered on Comedy Central in 2019 before getting picked up by HBO Max. Season two just premiered – and it’s sure to bring new fans to the series.

In a peerless sendup of our country’s thirsty celeb culture, Brooke starts season two hoping to continue on as a music manager – despite her brother Chase’s decision to attend NYU to pursue an education. Unwilling to part with her taste of fame, Brooke finds herself endlessly scrolling through socials trying to find the next Chase Dreams. This leaves her looking for unicorns and sending soulless DMs to young singers on YouTube like: “Move to NYC. I’ll represent you.”

One of the places she decides to scout for the next “global superstar” is at a birthday party for her friend’s kid as she reenters normal, non-celebrity life for a quick stint. This leads to a comical back-and-forth with her black friend, Jackie, who’s a bit thrown to see her after some time:

Brooke: Jackie, are you still at…

Jackie: Amex.

Brooke: Yes… Amex! And your husband…

Jackie: …Michael?

Brooke: Michael! Mike. Mikey. Is he still….

Jackie: … Dead.

Brooke: Dead…? Dead.

But Brooke won’t be deterred in her search for relevancy, which Yorke plays not just to comical ends, but sincere ones as well. For her and her aspiring actor/brother Cary (Drew Tarver) – the other one of The Other Two – there’s a nice sentimentality in their sibling relationship as it relates to each other and their little bro Chase, who they’re sweetly protective over. Also, their widowed mother Pat (Molly Shannon), who’s had zero problem leveraging Chase’s success into a children’s book deal and TV talk show, which has become a hit with Middle America moms.

When Brooke compromises her ambition to chase the next Chase Dreams, she agrees to co-manage her mother, and that’s where her character goes deeper. In S2 EP2, after a talk-show taping – and after blowing off a fan on behalf of her mother – Brooke arranges for a meet-and-greet for the fan with her mom. It ends up being one of the more moving moments in the show.

It’s a scene that proves one thing about Yorke: She has a gift for delivering punchlines, yes… but she’s also adept at striking an emotional chord. And that’s the sign of a great performer.

 

The Career:

Born Vancouver, Canada, raised in Los Angeles, and now living in Brooklyn, the 36-year-old Yorke studied musical theater at the University of Michigan before kickstarting an acting career that has encompassed stage and screen with stints on series such as Paramount +’s The Good Fight (2017-2018), Epix’s Graves (2016-2017) and HBO’s High Maintenance (2013-2014).

Though her first TV role was technically in FX’s Louie (2010) where she was credited as “Hot Girl,” her most notable breakout role perhaps was in Showtime’s Masters of Sex (2013-2015), where she played the hospital secretary who gets recruited for the first Masters and Johnson sex study. It was a role that probably would’ve been bigger – if her theater career didn’t take off.

That’s when Yorke started landing notable roles off – and on – Broadway in plays like American Psycho and Bullets Over Broadway, where she added her own twist to the wildly untalented actress Olive Neal, the role Jennifer Tilly parlayed into an Oscar nomination back in 1995.

Now Yorke is simply making us laugh at a high clip as Brooke on The Other Two, which should make her more of a household name in Hollywood. Even though Yorke did a few other shows when the global pandemic hit (when The Other Two was shut down), her role as Brooke looks to have legs as she flails up the Hollywood food chain. Ironic, because Yorke tore her ACL skiing right before production resumed (you can witness all her brace couture on her Insta).

Where this hilarious role will carry her next, well, we’ll just have to see…

But if my Spidey sense is correct, I’d say you can bank on a season three.

Gregg Rosenzweig has been a writer, creative director and managing editor for various entertainment clients, ad agencies and digital media companies over the past 20 years. He is also a partner in the talent management/production company, The Rosenzweig Group.