From the time he donned the robes of Friar Tuck in a fourth grade staging of Robin Hood, Wayne Thomas Yorke knew he had found his home. It was on the stage, a passion which he is not able to easily explain other than it was a place where he felt comfortable “goofing around” because everybody else was doing exactly the same thing. It was in ninth grade, when he appeared in a high school play, when he first realized that acting was a viable option for a future career. For him, it was pretty simple: it was the only thing he really ever wanted to do.
In a serendipitous turning point at the end of high school, he was first accepted to Canada’s National Theatre School which would have likely put him on the path to more formal live theatre. In a seemingly cruel turn of events at the time, he was contacted a week later and told the coveted spot had been eliminated due to budget cuts. In a move that was to become a hallmark of his highly successful career, he did not dwell on the disappointment but rather made a quick, positive pivot to attend Studio 58 in Vancouver. It was to lead him to a decade of steady work on stage and screen in his home town.
In a second turn of seemingly random events, Yorke headed to Los Angeles — Hollywood — not with a dewey-eyed dream of stardom but rather just the simple need to get away for a while after a heartrending breakup. A few months in the California sun seemed to be the right prescription to get him back on track. More than twenty-five years later, he’s still there, married with two kids and a veteran of feature films, hit television shows, over 150 television commercials and many projects on the stage. By every conceivable definition, Wayne Yorke is a true rarity — somebody who went to Hollywood and made it.
In this wide ranging interview, we talk with Wayne about his career journey including his early discovery and subsequent, lifelong fascination with Hollywood’s Golden Age: the one populated with Laurel & Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle and the Marx Brothers. We go on to talk about his early days learning the craft, through to his first professional engagements and then to international recognition in television and movies. Along the way, we talk about the keys to success and happiness in Hollywood. We also talk about the changing nature of the entertainment business as it struggles to keep up with changes in technology, the business environment and consumer tastes. He also provides great advice for aspiring actors considering the same path.
Wayne is quick to credit good fortune for the amazing life he has led. But in talking with him, you get a much stronger sense that he has a vision uncluttered by competing professional ambitions. He knew what he wanted and has never lost that focus over the course of his life. Every gig, no matter how big or small, he throws himself into abandon and infectious joy and we are all the richer for it.
Join us as we talk with Wayne Thomas Yorke, and take a little bit of that journey with him.