Alisha Wainwright: What to Know About Justin Timberlake's 'Palmer' Co-Star
By Jennifer Drysdale
Steve Granitz/WireImage -- Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images
Alisha Wainwright has gotten close to her Palmer co-star, Justin Timberlake, but a source says their friendship is completely innocent.
The pair made headlines after they were spotted holding hands at a New Orleans bar on Friday. A source who was with the group at The Absinthe House told ET it was an innocent gathering of friends as well as cast and crew members on a balcony overlooking Bourbon Street and nothing more. Wainwright's rep told ET, "There is no validity to the speculation."
Wainwright and Timberlake play love interests in Palmer, which follows the singer as a former high school football star who returns to his hometown following a prison sentence. As he encounters difficulties from his past upon his arrival, Timberlake's character, Eddie, also finds himself becoming the ward to a young boy who was abandoned by his mother. Wainwright portrays a school teacher, Maggie Hayes.
Palmer is just one of several big projects Wainwright is a part of this year. She also stars alongside Michael B. Jordan in Netflix's Raising Dion, while the series finale of her other show, Shadowhunters, aired on Freeform in May.
Here's what to know about the 30-year-old actress:
She Didn't Always Have Hollywood Ambitions
Wainwright earned her first acting credit in a short film in 2008 and then started to rack up the roles in TV in 2013 and 2014. Before then, she studied botany at the University of Florida and determined to further her career in science, moved to Panama after graduation to conduct field research in preparation for a PhD.
"Science is one of the toughest industries because everyone is vying for the same pot of money to fund their research," Wainwright said in a recent interview with W Magazine. "I had a very weird anthropological-botanical focus, and I couldn’t find anyone to give me the money to study it. I had to shift my focus to something a little broader, and I wasn’t as interested in it."
She's Pretty Tough
Wainwright's action scenes on Shadowhunters weren't just an illusion -- the girl knows how to fight! Wainwright has shown off her boxing skills several times on Instagram, and she's definitely got some talent.
Her Mom Is Her Biggest Fan
The actress was born to a Haitian father and Jamaican mother -- and considers her mom her biggest fan. Playing a young mom on Raising Dion helped her connect to what her own mother went through. "I was raised by a single mother so I know that there’s a lot of drama in that life, and there is a lot to pull from," she told W.
"Your mother is your guiding light into the world. That's how I think about my mom," Wainwright told Shondaland.com in October. "My mom is an accountant and she's Jamaican. She's proud and excited that I took a chance on acting and it worked out. She's on board and is my biggest fan."
She Doesn't Like to Be Labeled
Though she's found success in the sci-fi genre with Shadowhunters and Raising Dion, Wainwright isn't interested in being kept in a box.
"Someone the other day asked me, how does it feel being a genre actress? I was like, wait what? I didn’t know I was being labeled as that," she told W.
She signed on for Raising Dion inspired by the diversity of Jordan's resume. "I am so impressed with Michael B. Jordan’s career because he was able to use his platform to produce projects that help so many different communities, racially and ethnically," she explained. "I want to emulate that by creating projects that are broad based, that can be diverse and create opportunities for voices that we're not used to hearing on a regular basis."
A quick skim through Wainwright's Instagram, and it's obvious she has a love for travel.
"I travel by myself a lot because it's so hard to find someone else who has a schedule that coincides with mine," she told Condé Nast Traveler in September. "But I would say my favorite kind of travel is a mix of the two: If I'm traveling by myself, I still like to be part of a group experience, whether that's living aboard a boat so I can scuba dive or signing up for a group hiking trip to Machu Picchu. That way you get to meet new people who are probably traveling from all over the world and explore a culture and a place together, but you're not so tied to those people that you're obligated to spend all of your time with them."