WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 08: Actor Jesse Williams (R) and Aryn Drake-Lee attend the "GQ, Nautica, and Oceana World Oceans Day Party" at Sunset Tower on June 8, 2010 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for GQ Magazine)
John Shearer/Getty Images

Jesse Williams’ BET Awards speech has been trend­ing since Sun­day lead­ing us to won­der about his bet­ter half, Aryn Drake-Lee. When we began to dig, we dis­cov­ered a Renais­sance woman who is every bit as dynam­ic as her famous hus­band. Check it out. 

1. She is black.

In his Sun­day BET speech, Jesse Williams said:

“This award is also for the black women in par­tic­u­lar who have spent their lives nur­tur­ing every­one before them­selves — we can and will do bet­ter for you.”

His wife, Aryn, is one of these black women.


2. She has been with him since before he hit it big.

Aryn start­ed dat­ing Jesse before his movie debut in 2008’s The Sis­ter­hood of the Trav­el­ing Pants 2.  The two actu­al­ly met when he was a his­to­ry school­teacher.  In 2010, he told USA Today:

“She’s been with me through all dif­fer­ent facets of my career. She’s stuck with me through thick and thick and thick and thin. We know each oth­er in and out.”


3. She is half of the force behind ‘Ebro­ji’ — an app that speaks to inclu­sion.

Ear­li­er this year, the cou­ple launched “the first curat­ed GIF key­board, designed specif­i­cal­ly to enhance the way we already com­mu­ni­cate (Huff­in­g­ton Post).”  Yes, Aryn was part cre­ator.

Williams shared on Twit­ter that the app includes ALL peo­ple.

“Users are thank­ful that the cat­e­gories sound like them, authentically…and the images look like them — ALL of them. Brown, trans, ALL, peo­ple can see and use images that they con­nect to as an exten­sion of them­selves.”

4. She is a suc­cess­ful NY real estate bro­ker, “her own per­son and self-made.”

These words are straight from Jesse him­self, which he shared with Peo­ple Mag­a­zine in 2009.  ”[That’s] a big deal for me”, he told the mag­a­zine.  Addi­tion­al­ly, accord­ing to Brown Har­ris Stevens, Aryn is “one of the most suc­cess­ful [real estate] bro­kers” at their Park Slope office.

In a 2015 inter­view with Essence Mag­a­zine, he applaud­ed her inde­pen­dence again;

“I don’t gain strength from the weak­ness of oth­ers. I need to be able to learn from my part­ner. That’s what keeps us alive. We have mutu­al respect for each oth­er and we can help each oth­er where we need it.”

5. She began her career at a his­tor­i­cal­ly black real estate man­age­ment com­pa­ny.

Also accord­ing to her Brown Har­ris Stevens pro­file, Aryn start­ed her career “under the tute­lage of Webb and Brook­er in Harlem”.  Webb and Brook­er became the “largest black man­age­ment com­pa­ny in the coun­try” in 1981 when “they were hired by Pru­den­tial Insur­ance Com­pa­ny to man­age two lux­u­ry office build­ings” in New York (New York Times).

Before Pru­den­tial hired Webb and Brook­er, said 62-year-old Eugene Webb, an ani­mat­ed speak­er who retains the accent of his native Alaba­ma, there were ”no black firms doing com­mer­cial man­age­ment or leas­ing” out­side minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ties.

6. She is a con­fi­dent nat­ur­al.

If you search for Aryn online, most pho­tographs show her rock­ing her gor­geous curls and coils freely.  It does not mat­ter whether she is attend­ing a red car­pet event or a lunch date with her hub­by.


7. She is an Ivy League grad­u­ate.

Aryn attend­ed Barnard Col­lege, which was built in 1889 so that women could receive a com­pa­ra­ble edu­ca­tion to the men of Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty.  Though Colum­bia lat­er became coed­u­ca­tion­al, Barnard remained an inde­pen­dent women’s lib­er­al arts col­lege.  The two uni­ver­si­ties do, how­ev­er, have an affil­i­at­ed rela­tion­ship. The women grad­u­ates of Barnard “receive the diplo­ma of [Colum­bia] Uni­ver­si­ty.”

8. She became trilin­gual at a young age.

Accord­ing to her pro­file on Brown Har­ris Stevens, Aryn is flu­ent in both Span­ish and French.  She learned these lan­guages while attend­ing the French Amer­i­can Inter­na­tion­al School (San Fran­cis­co), which is an inde­pen­dent bilin­gual school for PK-12th grade.

9. She is a pri­vate woman.

Though Jesse is more active in the spot­light, Aryn stays behind the scenes.  Even their wed­ding was a pri­vate one for close fam­i­ly and friends.  There was no big pro­duc­tion for the mag­a­zines or media.

10. She is an amaz­ing wife who changed Jesse’s life.

These words are also direct­ly from Jesse Williams.  In his BET speech, he thanked his “amaz­ing wife who changed his life”.  The cou­ple have a daugh­ter (2 1/2 years old) named Sadie and a son (11 months) named Maceo.

Jesse Williams and his wife out and about with their new born daughter in NYC

Salute Aryn!


Empow­er­ing women of col­or to break bar­ri­ers. Cherish.Thy.Melanin. https://cherishthymelanin.com/

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27 Comments on "10 Incredible Facts About Jesse Williams’ Amazing Wife Aryn Drake-Lee"

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[…] Drake-Lee attend­ed Barnard Col­lege, which has an affil­i­at­ed rela­tion­ship with Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty. The grad­u­ate of Barnard Col­lege […]

Christy Beebe-Strunk
This is a great arti­cle, but… It’s an arti­cle for those peo­ple out there who think that this beau­ti­ful woman (despite all her suc­cess­es) is an ugly duck­ling, and isn’t deserv­ing of such a great catch. Who are “we” (mean­ing soci­ety) to judge who Jesse picks as a part­ner? Why must an arti­cle like this be post­ed? Does our opin­ion real­ly mat­ter to Jesse? Obliv­i­ous­ly not, because, if it did, he would of mar­ried a woman on looks alone, like many of the men in Hol­ly­wood do. They mar­ry for looks and for­get­ting about sub­stance and com­pat­i­bil­i­ty. They want arm… Read more »
GREAT ARTICLE, i hav to send this to a broth­er i know in prison ny, he be out soon, but yea and anoth­er in delaware prison. real talk, we up on jesse well i am but they were not too keen on him, til hear­ing him on bet mem­o­rable speech, shock­ing many, but i love best he yep is a real man as i pride my own self on. As a his­pan­ic blk man i say, let the white peo­ple bor­row OUR music, moves, our life as they are doing, over and over again but Jess like me think the… Read more »

Sisssss thank you. I’ve been say­ing this for a while.


Love this arti­cle! But slight adjustment–Barnard isn’t Ivy League, it’s an affil­i­ate insti­tu­tion under the Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty umbrel­la (which is men­tioned at com­mence­ment!). Their grad­u­a­tion require­ments, admis­sions process, and accep­tance rate are very sep­a­rate from Columbia’s. Still a great school though, but just got­ta set the record straight!

deborah phillips

Greatness.…Power cou­ple who doesn’t flaunt their suc­cess.

LaDonna Williams

Inspired by their efforts and results!


She is love­ly. I wish them many hap­py years of mar­riage.

Shirlynn LaChapelle

She is every bit a beau­ti­ful woman, even with­out make­up. With make­up on, she would blow you away. The so called beau­ties look like plain Jane with­out their make­up. She is not only beau­ti­ful but bril­liant as well! enuf said!

Mz Kegz

Get it girl !


A man who actu­al­ly want­ed a rela­tion­ship of substance..how rare these days


A sis­ter who is actu­al­ly a woman of sub­stance; edu­cat­ed, ded­i­cat­ed, strong, focused, deter­mined, unaf­fect­ed by ‘bling, pop­u­lar­i­ty, mate­ri­al­ism nor igno­rance. Now THATS rare. They are both blessed.


There are many, many sis­ters of sub­stance out here who meet all of your out­lined cri­te­ria! It’s not rare at all… where are you look­ing?


Its actu­al­ly not rare. Maybe in your cir­cle though.




‘Incred­i­ble’ is a lil much, but I see what you’re try­ing to say. Kudos to her.


That wild fro gave me life!


Didn’t it though!


Lol barnard is not an ivy league. But it’s a great school




It is…Columbia Alumn, here and it’s Colum­bia University’s sis­ter school since women were not allowed to attend uni­ver­si­ty, the future wives of Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty men were “groomed” there. When you grad­u­ate from Barnard you receive a Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty degree not a Barnard one and you take class­es freely on both cam­pus­es.


Doesn’t mean any­thing! Im also a sev­en sis­ter alum, and the fact is she went to Barnard. She is a sev­en sis­ter alum, which is just as great. Barnard is just asso­ci­at­ed with Colum­bia, as Smith is with Amherst col­lege and Bryn is with UPENN. Barnard is and will always be a proud mem­ber of the sev­en sis­ter club, not an ivy league.

Why you lying? You do not take class­es “freely” CC has the core, Barnard has 9 ways and the engi­neers have their own core. They have a sep­a­rate cam­pus on the oth­er side of the street. They are a great school and I have any friends there that have enriched my col­lege expe­ri­ence. How­ev­er they are affil­i­at­ed with Colum­bia like Cana­da is of the UK. It is a mean­ing­less affil­i­a­tion. They are a won­der­ful sep­a­rate school with a his­to­ry of their own his­to­ry. For fur­ther proof..you can apply to Barnard AND CC, SEAS or GS. If you are pick­ing between… Read more »

It’s not an ivy league. 

Ivy league is a sports affil­i­a­tion.

“The Ivy League is an NCAA Divi­sion I ath­let­ics con­fer­ence with 8 mem­ber schools. Though Barnard itself is not affil­i­at­ed with the league, as it has no ath­let­ics pro­gram, its ath­letes are rep­re­sent­ed in the league, though only through its con­nec­tion to Colum­bia.”

- Ivy league grad


Exact­ly! Barnard is a won­der­ful SEVEN SISTER SCHOOL.


She’s beau­ti­ful!