Actor Jesse Williams, and his ex-wife, real estate broker Aryn Drake-Lee, 40, had a tumultuous split, following a 13-year relationship. Read more about their marriage and what caused their rocky divorce.
The Relationship and Marriage
Jesse and Aryn met when she was a school teacher in New York City, according to People. They tied the knot in September 2012 after five years together. Aryn was reportedly very supportive of Jesse in their relationship when he was a struggling actor, with Page Six describing her as the “rock and breadwinner,” before Jesse landed his major role on Grey’s Anatomy in 2009. They welcomed their first child, Sadie, in December of 2013, per E! News, and their second, Maceo, in October of 2015, according to Entertainment Weekly.
However, things started to get rocky in their relationship when Jesse hit it big in the entertainment industry. “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,” a source told Page Six in 2017.
In 2017, the two filed for divorce after around five years of marriage, which was officially finalized in 2020. “Jesse became distant, secretive and was home less and less, traveling for unexplained reasons,” court documents obtained by US Weekly stated regarding the reasons for the separation. He was also linked with actress Minka Kelly around 2017, sparking cheating rumors.
However, in the footnotes section of Jay-Z’s “4:44″ track, Jesse spoke out. “I was in a relationship 13 years, 13 real years, not five years, not seven years, 13 years. Ad all of a sudden motherf**kers are writing think-pieces that I somehow threw a 13-year relationship — like the most painful experience I’ve had in my life, like with a person I’ve loved with all of my heart — that I threw a person and my family in the trash because a girl I work with is cute,” the actor passionately said, defending his name.
The Custody Battle
A few months after the split, Aryn requested sole legal custody of their two children. She claimed that Jesse’s work schedule was too unpredictable, and that she was the main parental figure to Sadie and Maceo. However, Jesse claimed that Aryn was intentionally restricting and controlling his access to his children. In 2021, the former couple were ordered to take a class dedicated to easing tensions between “high conflict parents,” per US Weekly.
In February 2022, a judge denied Aryn’s request to reduce Jesse’s visitations to the two kids. Jesse also accused his ex-wife of “erratic behavior” during this time, claiming that she would have “manic outbursts” in front of the children. He also claimed that Aryn yelled at him and “yanked Sadie from my arms like a rag doll,” according to legal documents obtained by US Weekly.
While he originally was set to pay a whopping $40,000 a month in child support, this number was drastically slashed to $6,000 a month while he stars in the Broadway production of Take Me Out, according to Radar Online.