Earlier this week we told you that actor Jesse Williams and wife of nearly five years, Aryn Drake-Lee, were calling it quits. Soon after, we told you that in Williams’s divorce filing, there was no information about a date of separation, but there was a request on his behalf for joint legal and physical custody of their two children (Sadie and Maceo), as well as a request that Drake-Lee not be given spousal support. A lawyer not associated with the couple’s divorce told TheJasmineBrand that Williams only checked a box that said no to spousal support as a technicality to avoid lifetime support. While he might be open to helping her financially leave the marriage, he doesn’t want to pay longer than the “allotted spousal support mark.”
That lawyer included, there has been a lot of talk as the week has gone on about the state of the couple’s relationship, if he’s dating actress Minka Kelly, and speculation over the real reason he wants out of the marriage. A source reportedly close to the couple (aka, one of her friends), told Page Six, “She poured money into this relationship and sacrificed her life for him, and now he wants to go out and be the hot single Hollywood guy. Jesse wants to . . . do whatever he thinks will make him a bigger star. He’s drinking his own Kool-Aid and it’s ‘the Jesse show.’ He’s dead f - - king wrong. He did not respect those vows. He wants to be single.”
But what does Jesse say? We don’t know just yet. When asked by paparazzi if he had any comments on his split, the star turned his back to cameras, showing off a jacket that said “Don’t Believe the Hype.”
But Williams has talked openly about Drake-Lee in the past. Check out 10 things we learned about their relationship, and his estranged wife, from his own comments over the years.
She’s a Self-Made Woman – 2009
In an interview with PEOPLE in 2009, the actor told the magazine that Drake-Lee’s independence and confidence were part of what attracted him to her. “She is her own person,” he said. “Being intelligent and self-made is a big deal for me.”
She Was a Ride or Die – 2010
Before he had his big break in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, Williams was a teacher being held down by the real estate broker.
“She’s been with me through all different facets of my career,” he told USA Today back in 2010. “She’s stuck with me through thick and thick and thick and thin. We know each other in and out.”
They Were Excited to Tie the Knot – 2010
Behind the scenes of a photo shoot with GQ in 2010, Williams revealed his relationship status for those who hadn’t received the memo, calling Aryn “lovely.”
“I’ve been engaged to a lovely girl, who I’ve been with for quite a while,” he said. “Her name is Aryn. We just moved out here from Brooklyn. We’re excited to have a wedding soon!”
She Was Initially Happy to Move From Brooklyn to LA for His Career – 2010
“We know each other in and out, and she was very happy to move out here,” Williams shared with USA Today in 2010. “She loves California and was tired of the weather on the East Coast.”
They Did a Lot of Traveling — and Eating – 2010
Williams wrote an essay for the Huffington Post in 2010 about his love of experiencing the local culture and cuisine of the places he travels to with Drake-Lee. He wrote specifically about their trip to the World Cup in South Africa. “Aryn and I joined forces with friends and family that were flying from Atlanta, San Francisco, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Trinidad to partake in the festivities. We saw amazing matches in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and every day the experience and energy was like New Year’s Eve and Obama’s Inauguration Day in D.C. combined: Overflowing Positive Energy. I was grateful that this wasn’t our first time in South Africa.”
When speaking on their love for authentic local fare, Williams said, “I’m not interested in eating American versions of Mexican food, thank you very much. I don’t know how many times my fiancée Aryn and I have asked a waiter, ‘What are you guys eating in the back? Yeah, sneak us some of that.'”
They Are Business Partners Who Both Believed in Empowering the Black Community – 2012
The couple helped bring Ebroji to life, which is an app that helps to diversify the way folks communicate, specifically through gifs. Drake-Lee told NBCBLK, “The impetus for us is really to create a space and a tool for many of the underrepresented communities of people in the social media and conversational space.”
The pair also worked together to start a production company called farWord that helped Williams combine his love of academics and film. He talked about it with IndieWire in 2012.
“farWord came out of a desire of mine, since leaving the classroom as a teacher and starting my career as an actor, to find a way to bridge the gap creatively between the academic world that I came from and entertainment,” he said. “So together with my partner, Aryn Drake-Lee, we started a production company to put some projects into development, whether that’s scripted feature films, transmedia projects, or literary work.”
She’s Better Than Him at Quite a Few Things
Prior to tying the knot in 2012, Williams said that the intelligent Drake-Lee brought some spice to his life.
“I’ve been in a committed relationship for a long time,” he said. “It was very important to me to be with a woman who is better than me at some things. You want someone who brings new, interesting things into your life.”
They Were Excited About Parenthood – 2013
Williams said that while his wife was on “cruise control” in terms of dealing with pregnancy cravings, he had gotten far more comfortable scarfing down food awaiting the birth of their first child, Sadie.
“I’m a professional eater,” he jokingly said to PEOPLE in 2013. “Eating is a big part of my life, and I eat legally, illegally, hunting it, finding it. It’s a big part of my experience.”
As for prepping for fatherhood, Williams said, “[I’m] asking as many questions as possible of those around me that I trust, reading and just trying to get my weight up you know. We’re excited. We’re not scared. We’re ready.”
He Loves Being a Dad – 2014
When asked in 2014 how it’s been as a first-time father, Williams told PEOPLE in 2014, “It’s hard to describe. It’s wonderful — a new discovery every day. It’s great and I’m loving it.”
He Loves…Her Cooking – 2016
One of the last public statements Williams made about Drake-Lee before this split was that she was a great cook, saying so at the end of 2016. As the previous slides made clear, Williams doesn’t play when it comes to his food.
“She is an amazing chef who is well-traveled,” he told — you guessed it — PEOPLE. “I was eating tuna fish and beans and rice every night when I met her. I think I made a couple of attempts and then realized I’d need to take her out to a restaurant instead!”
He continued, “There is an appeal to people who know their way around the kitchen. You’re providing for people. And that’s a lovely and generous place to be.”
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