Yael Stone, the Orange Is The New Black star who describes herself on Twitter as “Pocket sized Australian, professional make believist, full time cynical optimist,” is a Jewish Australian actress and outspoken activist.
She became a series regular in season 3 of OITNB and has captured our hearts as Lorna Morello, a perky Italian-American with a tendency for some delusional stalking. In one of her best quotes, Lorna says, “Hey, did you ever see that movie — the one where there’s the cowboy and he’s, like, the king of the castle? And then this astronaut shows up and he tries to take over, so the cowboy attempts to murder him, but, instead, the astronaut is taken hostage by, like, this evil psychopath and the cowboy has to rescue him and then they end up becoming really good friends?” Yes, she’s describing Toy Story.
Read on for 18 things to know about Yael:
1. Yael Stone was born in Sydney, Australia to Jewish parents. She has described herself as an atheist, explaining, “I’m really proud of where I’ve come from and really proud of my family, but I don’t have a strict relationship with God or with religion … When I was 12, I was studying Hebrew and getting ready to do my bat mitzvah and I sat down with my dad and I said: ‘Hey listen, I don’t know if I’m really comfortable with this, because here I am talking about God and I don’t know if I feel it.’ He was really disappointed, but he heard me.”
2. She started her professional life on the stage. In Sydney, she starred in play called A Golem Story, where Stone’s Jewish background helped her understand the legend of golem. Stone explained, “I am actually Jewish, but there’s definitely lots of research to be done, and I’m certainly not the best Jew in the world! But we have a really amazing rabbi with us on stage and off-stage… he’s our advisor and he sings in the show…”
3. Her father, Harry Stone, was born in Czechoslovakia, and is the son of Holocaust survivors. Stone explains, “He’s a first-generation child of Holocaust survivors, so he didn’t really get to indulge a lot of [his] creative instincts.” His mother — Stone’s grandma — was Romanian.
4. She caught a big break when she was cast as Lorna Morello in Orange is the New Black, which she has been a part of since 2013. Lorna’s memorable accent — a mixture of Brooklyn and Boston — was called “the most amazing accent on television.” As one article explained back in 2013, “she spent hours wandering Boston with a tape recorder to perfect Lorna’s cocktail of east coast sounds.”
5. Here she is filming Orange is the New Black while pregnant, with a stuffed dreidel toy!
— natasha lyonne (@nlyonne) January 17, 2018
6. Stone is welcomed her first child with boyfriend (and fellow Australian) Jack Manning Bancroft. Bancroft is the founder of AIME, the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience.
7. Of being pregnant, Yael has said, “What this feels like is I have a brand new role that I’ve never, ever trained for. This is my first one, and this is a much-wanted, much-planned for child. We’re so excited.”
8. She sings with the Resistance Revival Chorus, “a collective of 60 women who sing protest songs in an effort to uplift women and strengthen the women’s movement.”
9. She’s very short, only 5 feet tall!
10. Her first role was at age 12 in Me Myself I, a 1999 romantic comedy film.
11. She’s an activist. Outspoken about indigenous rights, LGBTQ+ rights, criminal justice reform, climate justice… the list goes on and on. Stone uses her platform for good. (Read her powerful essay in The Guardian about #MeToo.)
12. She is an accredited yoga instructor, and she works with the Liberation Prison Yoga program. As she explained in 2015, she had to learn more about trauma before she could join the project: “We could argue that people who are in prison are victims of trauma, and probably being introduced to new trauma every day.” Now, she teaches women in the Liberation Prison Yoga’s program at Rikers Island. As her bio reads on the website, “She is inspired by the incredible work being done by Liberation Prison Yoga and is grateful to be part of it in some small way.” (She’s also on the Board of Directors of the project, due to her “passion for social justice, women’s rights, and yoga.”)
13. She is an advocate of #TIMESUPbehindbars, urging the Time’s Up movement to include incarcerated women.
— Yael Stone (@YaelStone) January 30, 2018
14. Yael has two older siblings; they’re both musicians. Her sister, Elana Stone, is a member of the band “All Our Exes Live in Texas,” and her brother, Jake Stone, was a member of popular Aussie pop group Bluejuice (it disbanded in 2014), and now performs as a solo act.
15. In a total 180 from her Orange Is the New Black role, Stone plays an Australian detective on Deep Water, an Australian crime drama that premiered on Netflix in 2016. Netflix describes the series: “Back in Bondi Beach, where she grew up, DC Tori Lustigman [Stone] investigates a gay man’s murder and finds a link to her brother’s death decades earlier.”
16. She guest starred in a High Maintenance (our favorite show about weed) episode “Grandpa,” told entirely from the perspective of a dog. Stone plays a dog walker. It was a therapeutic episode for her; her dog in Australia had recently died. She explained to ET Online, “I was completely devastated. I was just in love with her, the way you fall in love with dogs.” Her character again appeared in season 2 of the show, where she was a sort-of-love-interest of the main character, The Guy.
18. Last but not least, here’s an image of Stone in Sydney. True happiness.