Since actor Jesse Williams and Aryn Drake-Lee parted ways in 2017, they’ve been caught up in a pretty messy divorce and child custody battle. And while we’ve heard a lot about Drake-Lee’s requests monetarily, and her demands for how her estranged husband parents their children (and who he takes them around), she hasn’t spoken publicly — until now.
In a new interview with PEOPLE, Drake-Lee promoted her new mom-focused podcast, BBSARETRASH (“Babies Are Trash”). While doing so though, the 39-year-old mother of two talked about how she’s moved forward since her marriage ended, and opened up about what it was really like inside of their relationship.
“When the divorce process started I had two nursing babies, and I am the one that ran our household for the 14 and a half years that he and I were together in the same house,” she said. “And for our children, and for the creation of the businesses that we built together when I left my career in New York for us to move to California to pursue his, and then as a result built it…I knew, as the one that was really holding it all together, that I didn’t have a lot of room to fall, even though I was falling.”
For the record, she used to work in real estate. Once he filed for divorce, Drake-Lee said she experienced a great deal of isolation, because the friends the couple made followed Williams out of the door.
“I was in a place where I needed the support that was going to help to ground me. Most everybody I had spent the eight years here in LA with all went with him,” she said.
However, she said some good came out of the disappointment she experienced.
“It was a blessing in disguise because it was a real slap in the face to see who was around us and why, and at that point it became very clear,” she said. “And it cleared a pathway for me to make a shift and get back onto a path that was more in alignment with how I wanted to live my life.”
Looking back, she also doesn’t miss the taste of Hollywood that she experienced while helping her ex build his career. The lack of depth didn’t appeal to her.
“Hollywood and I bump heads. It was never my value system, and it was never something that I was striving for,” she said. “It never felt comfortable for me because of how superficial it was. And then that all became abundantly clear when everybody went left.”
All that being said, Drake-Lee is grateful for a fresh start, the chance to focus on her kids and to pursue her own endeavors, including her new podcast. She has a sense of peace because she knows her truth, and doesn’t care what people think they know about her and her situation.
“Much of what they say is wrong,” she said. “But I’m not interested in a tit-for-tat, because that’s just never ending. People believe what they want to believe because it’s easy.”
“I resisted this for the last 10 years, having a public profile, and then I got dragged into it against my will,” said about going through her divorce battle publicly. “It was possibly my worst nightmare. And then it played out, and now I’m better off for it.”