Heléne Yorke and Meghann Fahy Started From the Bottom, Now They’re Here
When Heléne Yorke and Meghann Fahy were in their early twenties, going on dates just to afford a hearty meal and struggling to use a planner, neither could have imagined that a decade later they’d both be starring in two of the finest shows on television. Fahy, of course, was the standout of the most recent season of The White Lotus, while her bestie Yorke currently stars in The Other Two, a sidesplitting satire of show biz egos anchored by the two vainglorious older siblings of a teenage pop phenom. “There were some real rough years in between,” recalls Fahy, who got on Zoom earlier this month to interview Yorke, her close friend of 13 years. Once upon a time, Fahy worked at The Grey Dog, a New York staple, and Yorke at Physique 57, a job she took to avoid paying for a costly gym membership. Together, they went to yoga classes and figured out how to do their taxes, waiting patiently for their big breaks, which eventually came in the form of leading roles on Broadway. Before the last two episodes of The Other Two drop on Max, the duo had a hilarious and heartfelt conversation about their lean years, auditioning for Wicked the movie, money management, motherhood, and making it work. As Yorke put it at the very end, “Being a woman is fucking hard. Maybe it’s like, you can have it all, but not all at once all the time.”
MEGHANN FAHY: Hi.
HELÉNE YORKE: Are you in a waffle bathrobe?
FAHY: No, it’s a shirt.
YORKE: Talk to me about this tan.
FAHY: Okay, so they’re making me get spray tans for this job I’m doing right now. But your hair is really doing great stuff right now.
YORKE: That’s a prenatal vitamin. I think all women should be on natal vitamins.
YORKE: Yeah, dude, take a prenatal. My nails? Hard as rocks. My hair? Grows like a weed. It’s the healthiest it’s ever been.
FAHY: Okay. Damn. So are you in your beautiful apartment with all these cool framed sports t-shirts?
YORKE: They’re not cool. I have floral wallpaper everywhere. You’ve been here. I’ve decorated the shit out of this apartment. This is an office, Barry has a job so he uses it. And I allowed basketball jerseys to be hung, but it means I can’t take any work Zooms from here because what in the hell?
FAHY: I think it’s kind of cool.
YORKE: Do you? There’s Broadway shit here. I have the Squigs drawings from American Psycho and from Bullets Over Broadway, but then there’s LeBron blocking a sick dunk.
FAHY: You know what though? The rest of your apartment is so flawless. I feel like your husband gets to have two jerseys.
YORKE: They’ve been in the back of closets for years of his life and it was like, you did buy a home. You can hang your jerseys.
FAHY: Okay, so I met you when I was 20.
YORKE: Were you understudying at Next to Normal?
FAHY: I think I was, yeah.
YORKE: You were a theater queen, and now you’re a giant star and you do things like interview Elizabeth Olsen for Variety and then slum it with me and my basketball jerseys.
FAHY: First of all, I think it’s so sweet that we’ve known each other for this long and now we’re both in very, very different places in our careers than we were when we first met. The third season of your show just came out. I feel like most people don’t even get a second season these days. That’s so unique.
YORKE: I’m very excited we got a third season. Also, I like the third season the best because they truly threw so much shit at the walls. It’s also fun watching you because—
FAHY: No, this is your interview.
YORKE: I know you as a person, and watching you be a glamor puss in Prada separates in Italy when your bitch ass shows up at my house in an American Apparel jersey skirt, tank top, and a pair of Converse sneakers. I was like, who is this?
FAHY: I’m not a fashionista by any stretch, but you’re amazing on your show.
YORKE: I love you.
FAHY: And you’re very good on a very good show, which is a very special, cool thing to be.
YORKE: Isn’t it? It’s so rare. Don’t you feel like sometimes as an actor you have so little control over what happens? You don’t control the edit. You’re not in control of the writing. As an actor, especially as an actor my size, you’re a gig artist. You’re like, “I’ll show up and I’ll do it.” But to be on something where you love everybody you’re with, you love the product, you’re proud of your work, it’s really gratifying. I don’t know about you. I’m always like, “When’s it going to happen again?”
FAHY: Yeah, that’s really ingrained in me too. I don’t think that I’ve ever really been in a situation where I’m like, “Okay, cool, now I’m set.” But I’ve spoken to other older actors who say that never really goes away. Which is sort of devastating to learn, but also weirdly useful and helpful because you’re like, “Okay, well I’ve been doing it this way for this long, so I guess I can just keep doing that.”
YORKE: Maybe I’ll just relax.
FAHY: Does everybody know that you can do everything?
YORKE: No, they don’t.
FAHY: Does everybody know that Heléne has one of the best voices that I’ve ever heard in my life, and she can dance like the best dancer in the world, and you’re funny, and you can really land a scene with full heart? I was watching the latest episode of your show when it came out and you have this beautiful scene where you just have these eyes. I’ve always kind of been obsessed with your eyes. I looked at you and felt like your character was really experiencing a sadness that she didn’t know what to do with. And then a second later you land a sick joke. And I’ve had the joy of witnessing that over the course of the last 13 years. You really can do it all and everybody needs to know. You have to start talking about it. Tell them.
YORKE: I find that when I’m doing TV, people are like, “Oh, Heléne, a theater person.” But then when I’m doing any kind of theater, it’s like, “Oh, Heléne, she does TV now.” My own husband, Barry, has never seen me on stage and keeps saying he’ll go to Lincoln Center Library and watch me in Bullets Over Broadway and American Psycho and has never done it. And now I’m exposing him for not loving me. One of the things I love about the show, it gives me the opportunity to stretch in so many different directions all the time. The writing for Brooke sort of feels like gymnastics, Doing back flips to get from one moment to another, to do a scene with Josh [Segarra] that has heart and then to turn around and be eating nachos in bed and farting out my nose. I love being able to be everything, to not worry about how I look. As a woman and as an actress, I have to look a certain way and be a certain way and feel poised. And I really like flying my freak flag. like when I look bad, I enjoy it. And I think that’s all attributed to my theater background. I like that I have it in my pocket. I feel like it’s a little secret I have.
FAHY: I do know what you mean. It feels like such a singular experience that is so entirely separate from what we’ve both been doing more of in the past number of years. I get when you say it feels like a secret.
YORKE: I get a call from my agent and she’s like, “So you have an audition for Wicked the movie.” And I was like, “Don’t make me do that.” I had originated Glinda on the second national tour right before I met you—
FAHY: I remember.
YORKE: I played Glinda for a year and it was really hard. Anyway, I get a call two years, ago, I don’t know, and it was the only in-person audition I’ve done in years.
FAHY: Oh my god. Terrifying.
YORKE: And I was like, “They’re not going to cast me.” I was like, “Aren’t you just going to cast Dove Cameron or somebody?” He [Bernie Telsey] was like, “Not necessarily.” And I literally just dusted my old ass off and then I went to sing it and my voice automatically sang the opening in the correct key. And then I had breakfast with Annaleigh Ashford and I was like, “Did you have to go in for Wicked?” And she’s like, “I heard they’re going to cast Ariana Grande.”
FAHY: Yeah, I didn’t go to that.
YORKE: You must have gotten a call.
FAHY: I did not go because musical theater auditions are really traumatic, and I knew I wasn’t going to get it. Also, I don’t have the voice for that score. And I think the anxiety and stress that this process will induce in me is maybe not worth it when I know that I can’t sing it. So I just bowed out. Are you interested in getting back onto the stage and blowing everyone’s minds?
YORKE: I would love to do that. You get so spoiled doing TV. I think the work of being an actor is not working. I don’t think working is work.
FAHY: I agree. That’s the part that most people would do for free. It’s everything else surrounding that, the times where you’re not working, or the press that you’re asked to do, those things feel less connected to the true joy of the thing.
YORKE: I think that’s what’s so insane about sitting here with you now. Even really established actors are like, what’s the next thing? How do you get that next thing? Sometimes I have to stop and look back on how hard we hit the pavement. I remember calculating how much money I had and how long it would last me.
FAHY: You were always way better with everything than I was. You always had your shit together. You had a book where you kept track of all of your things for tax purposes. Remember that time I made fun of you because we were making plans to hang out and you whipped out a planner? And I was like, “Is that a planner?” I remember always looking up to you because you were just this beautiful, cool woman in my life that had it all together. And I just was the dummy who was showing up in sneakers and being like, “Teach me how to make dinner.”
YORKE: That’s very sweet. But also, you came at it from a totally other direction. You didn’t even fuck with hundreds of thousands of dollars for a BFA. You came to New York, and you were on Broadway, and then you got The Bold Type and you were cooking with gas, baby.
FAHY: Yeah, but there were some real rough years in between. Because I did Next to Normal until I was like 21. And then I didn’t shoot The Bold Type pilot until I was like 26. I worked at the Grey Dog, I was a nanny for a while.
YORKE: My current nanny worked at the Grey Dog.
FAHY: You’re kidding me.
YORKE: No. And I literally love her for it. She’s a musical theater actress and she worked at the Grey Dog and now she looks after Hugo. It’s like a rite of passage.
FAHY: Nannying is one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.
YORKE: I will only hire actresses.
FAHY: I can’t believe you have a kid.
YORKE: I know. I made a baby.
FAHY: And he’s so beautiful.
YORKE: He’s one next Monday.
FAHY: That’s nuts.
YORKE: Anyway, I had those years too, dude. I was working the front desk at Physique 57 and eating bacon behind the desk. Do you remember that? I was so mean. I was like, “Well you didn’t cancel your class in time, so you’re going to have to eat the cost.” And that woman left a comment, “The blonde behind the desk is rude.” And I was like, I did it. I’ve made it. I’ve managed to be noticed.
FAHY: That is such an actor thinking in the sense that you were like, “Okay, I don’t have money to go to a gym, but I need to work out. Oh, I’ll get a job at a place I can take a free class.” You’re a genius.
YORKE: I literally would date so I could go out to eat. I remember dating and being like, “Great! Dinner.”
FAHY: People might think you’re joking, but I’m here to tell you that that is not a joke.
YORKE: That’s not a joke.
FAHY: Speaking of going out to dinner and food, you’re an amazing cook. You love to cook.
YORKE: I love food, I love cooking. I got into it because of a guy I was dating when I first moved to the city. I dated this actor named Stark Sands. He took me to restaurants, and I was hooked, but I was hooked and poor. It was really tough.
FAHY: It’s hard to enjoy those things when you’re worried about paying for them. You took me to my first yoga class, remember that?
YORKE: I did. You skinny bitch, you don’t even need to work out.
FAHY: First of all, that’s not true.
YORKE: Listen to me, I remember. Your dumb bitch ass got back from Sicily and you were like, “Oh God, I ate so much pasta and I was drinking so much wine. I hope nobody can tell.” And your full chest plate and abs were in every shot. And I was like, where’s this pasta and wine, Meggie?
FAHY: At the end, we did a pickup shot of this scene where I was wearing this really cool two-piece, I feel like it was Dolce & Gabbana or something. I couldn’t zip the skirt in the back but they could only see me from the front, so you couldn’t tell. And yes, you took me to my first yoga class and you said it was going to be really easy. I thought I was going to pass away
YORKE: I’m in excellent shape, but you can’t tell because my ass is going out to dinner drinking Aperol spritzes all the time.
FAHY: You’ve always been so strong and have taken such good care of yourself.
YORKE: I’m turning into my German mother. It’s like, you make a baby and he was nine pounds, 11 ounces, my pelvis stretched out to hold him. And it’s just like, damn, dude. It is so hard to be a woman and then be like, let me try and make my boobs look the way they looked before. I bought all this Peloton stock during the pandemic because I was like, “I believe.” And then it tanked.
FAHY: Fuck. Did it come back?
YORKE: No, it didn’t. I went to the premiere of And Just Like That… and [Mr. Big] died on a Peloton and I was like, “You fuckers, my fucking stock!” I just can’t believe I own stock now. It’s because I’m married to somebody that understands this shit.
FAHY: That’s what I’m saying, you have your shit together.
YORKE: It’s nice to have your shit together because you worry about less shit, dude. If you do small little incremental things to keep yourself organized, it just makes the rest of your life easier generally. Actors have a really hard time with that because nobody teaches them how to do it. So they’re like little babies that pay out the ass to have people look after this stuff for them. There’s this ESPN documentary called Broke and it’s all about these athletes that make a fuck ton of money overnight and then lose everything.
FAHY: Because they don’t know how to manage it?
YORKE: It’s sort of the same with acting, but on even a lower pay scale. I would go on the road and be like, “I can’t believe I’m making this money.” And then I would get back to New York and it would be gone in a month.
FAHY: I remember that happening to me too.
YORKE: Yeah. You just didn’t understand. I stress out about shit all the time. I probably live on maybe more of an anxiety-riddled scale and that’s why I’m able to [stay organized]. You have a breezy way of going through your life and stuff still works out.
FAHY: I don’t know if I would call it breezy. I think the right word would probably be avoidant.
FAHY: Always have been. Hopefully won’t always be, but my therapist thinks I’m doing great.
YORKE: The people I envy the most are people that have absolutely no doubt in their minds that shit’s going to work out. It’s usually men, and they have this fundamental belief in themselves that, “Yeah bro, it’s going to be fine.” It’s almost like it’s spoken into existence, and they live more relaxed lives. Like I said, the work of acting is not working. And so I have historically, famously, spent that time wrapping my talons around what I’m doing wrong, what I can be doing differently. How can I have control over this situation in which I have no control? Because that’s the other thing about our business. You’re like, “Hire me because of my personality, what I look like, and what my voice sounds like.” It’s so arbitrary and to try to control it is such a futile exercise.
FAHY: Yeah, totally. I’m trying to just let go of everything. But it’s hard to do sometimes. It’s hard when you’ve been practicing not doing that for so many years. It’s rewiring your brain to have a different impulse.
YORKE: I know. I had something happen to me recently that I will speak to. I had a miscarriage a couple weeks ago and it’s something that has happened to 70% of my childbearing friends. And I don’t know why I’m not booking these things, but I’m not making anything happen and I’m just going to have a baby really quickly. And being an actress, it sucks. It’s so hard to be pregnant because nobody can hire you. I was just wrapping my talons around it and I lost the pregnancy. I don’t think because of stress—I think it just was not going to happen. And I was just like, “What am I doing? I can’t plan this. This is a life. This is my family.” At the end of my days, am I going to miss the job I didn’t get because I was pregnant? Or am I going to be so happy to be surrounded by my family? And so many women grapple with this. I just get pissed about being the one, you know what I mean? My husband would get maternity leave. I’m the one that does this and I get so afraid about a phantom opportunity that’ll pass me by or whatever. I had an actress reach out and be like, “I really want to have a baby too, but I’m going to get written off my show if I have a baby.” And I was like, “You probably would.” But that’s been the really interesting thing about the last couple years of my life—getting married and having a kid—everybody’s like, “You’re a woman and now you can have it all.” And I’m always like, “Can you?” I don’t know. It’s really fucking hard to do it all. It really is. And I was able to do it all because my fucking mother is incredible. And I found her an apartment on Carol Street, and she lived here and helped me get my son from three to six months old.
FAHY: That’s a huge deal.
YORKE: But I could afford it, too. It’s so hard. It’s so hard to weigh it, and I don’t think I really appreciated it until I was in it.
FAHY: Well I think it’s amazing that you’ve been open enough to share that, because I think you’re right. A lot of women do experience [having a miscarriage] and have a hard time feeling like it’s okay to speak about. But it’s also really cool that you were able to be so reflective in that moment and have this sort of realization.
YORKE: It’s just, life is life, and what we do is what we do.
FAHY: Quote you on that.
YORKE: Life is life, and what we do is what we do.
FAHY: Hell yeah.
YORKE: I often think about 70 year old Heléne. I think about what’s going to matter to me then. Because I think we live in the moment, and I think that that’s important when you’re young, to enjoy these times when you’re beautiful, and you have energy, and if you’re making money, to enjoy your life and to travel and have this freedom. Enjoy every second of that because then when it comes time to have a family, you’re really doing that. I just went on vacation with my baby and I was like, “Oh, vacations with my baby are not vacations anymore. They’re purely to benefit him and the experiences he’ll have in his life.” And it’ll be that way for at least a decade or more. I’m sure I’ll get trolled and people will be like, “It’s more, bitch.” But I want to have a long ass dinner. I want to have a family. Having it all, it’s just like, you can have a lot of things, and you can have things in balance, [but] being a woman is fucking hard. You can have it all, but not all at once all the time.
FAHY: I think that’s the quote, babe. You can have it all, but not all at once, and not all the time. That’s a great ending.
YORKE: Yes. Are you in London, honey? Where are you?
FAHY: I’m in Cape Cod.
YORKE: Oh, that’s right. Tell everybody I say hi.
FAHY: I will. I’ll text you in five minutes, but I love you.