Heather Headley as Helen on 'Sweet Magnolias'

Who Plays Helen on 'Sweet Magnolias'? Here's Where You've Seen Heather Headley

Did you know she's a Grammy winning singer?

There's just something special about the Sweet Magnolias trio. Maddie (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), Dana Sue (Brooke Elliott) and Helen are the ultimate lifelong friends in the fictional town of Serenity, S.C. and we're constantly rooting for them as they support each other through all aspects of life on the popular Netflix series. Season 3 is officially streaming on Netflix as of July 20, we can't wait to see more of our favorite southern ladies and follow along with their ever-dramatic love lives. We're particularly curious to see where things go for attorney Helen Decatur, played by Heather Headley.

Helen had quite a dramatic season two. She has a sweet new love interest and even got a surprise proposal from an old flame. She also experienced a miscarriage and began exploring IVF.

Are you Team Erik or Team Ryan? The fact that we have to wait until season 3 for answers will undoubtedly drive fans insane but we can't wait to see what showrunner Sheryl J. Anderson has in store for us. Did you know that Headley has a few things in common with her onscreen character? Not only is she quite the career woman, but she's a really gifted singer.

Music, Theater and the Silver Screen

Heather Headley during the Opening Night Gala for the Encores production curtain call for "Into The Woods" at New York City Center on May 4, 2022 in New York City

Photo by Bruce Glikas/WireImage

Music has always been a big part of Headley's life. She grew up performing in school plays and musicals and even studied musical theater at Northwestern University before landing her first big break. She left school after junior year to join the cast of Ragtime as Audra McDonald's understudy. The following year she landed the role of Nala in the original Broadway production of The Lion King. She's been appearing on the Broadway stage ever since.

Headley has starred in a number of notable productions throughout her career. She also originated the role of Aida, which earned her a Tony Award in 2000. As if that wasn't impressive enough, she's recorded her own music. She's released five studio albums to date, including her Grammy-winning Audience of One, which brought home Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album in 2010.

As far as TV goes, Headley doesn't have a lengthy resume. You might recognize her from her recurring role as Gwen Garrett on Chicago Med or Dr. Clara Jamison on She's Gotta Have It.

Sweet Magnolias


In Sweet Magnolias, Headley brings to life our favorite career woman, Helen Decatur. The lawyer has been dealing with quite an interesting love life over the show's two seasons. In season two, we also got to hear Headley show off her singing chops in a memorable karaoke scene. Helen joins her new love interest Erik onstage for a performance of Bonnie Raitt's "Something to Talk About" and, based on what she delivers, there should be no doubt that the actress has a long history with music.

Apparently, there had been discussions behind the scenes trying to figure out a way to incorporate some music into the show. Headley explained she had talked it out with producers to figure out what Helen's skill level would be.

"'How well does Helen sing?' Is she tone deaf, or... has she been on Broadway? They were like, 'She might be able to sing pretty well,' so I was like, 'OK, I'll get her somewhere in the middle.'"

"Poor Dion [Johnstone, who plays Erik] was so nervous about it," Headley told tvline. "He was like, 'Should we rehearse?' And I was like, 'You don't rehearse karaoke! Don't worry about it.' It was so fun, and I love that it happened in a clever way. It wasn't just me breaking into song and everybody wondering where that voice came from."

Personal Life

Heather Headley attends the 2018 press day for "Chicago Fire", "Chicago PD", and "Chicago Med" on September 10, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois

Photo by Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images

While Helen has to deal with the heartbreak of trying to become a mother on Sweet Magnolias, in real life, Headley is a happily married mother of three. She's been married to her husband, retired New York Jets player Brian Musso since 2003, and they share two sons and a daughter. Fun fact, they even have a recording studio in their home, so Headley can make music whenever she wants!

READ MORE: 'Sweet Magnolias' Was Filmed in Georgia's 'Hollywood of the South'