Alisha Wainwright was seen holding hands with Justin Timberlake, although a source recently told PEOPLE "it was completely innocent"

By Maria Pasquini
November 24, 2019 12:00 PM
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Alisha Wainwright caused a stir over the weekend when new photos and video were published that showed her and Palmer costar Justin Timberlake out in New Orleans.

In a video and photos posted by The Sun on Saturday, Timberlake, who’s been married to actress Jessica Biel since 2012, was spotted out with Wainwright, 30, and a group of friends. In the video, Timberlake, 38, can be seen enjoying drinks with the group and Wainwright can be seen, at times, resting her hand on his knee. The two appear to be holding hands in photos.

However, the costars’ interactions were “completely innocent,” a source told PEOPLE. “The video may look a way, but literally it was nothing. It was some friends, members of the team, crew and people like that. They all know each other and were hanging. Like come on, they’re on an open balcony in New Orleans and he’s famous. It was nothing.”

A rep for Wainwright also told PEOPLE: “There is no validity to this speculation. They are currently working on a project together. Members of the cast and crew were all together.”

Palmer, directed by Fisher Stevens, stars Timberlake as a one-time college football star who ends up serving time in jail and later returns to his hometown to try and pick up the pieces.

Here’s everything to know about Wainwright.

Credit: Jamie McCarthy/FilmMagic; Emma McIntyre/E! Entertainment/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

She Studied Botany Before Becoming an Actress

Wainwright’s career has followed an unusual path.

Although she was first approached to be in commercials at a young age, she told Wonderland magazine earlier this year that acting wasn’t in the cards at first — and that she first studied botany, as well as winemaking, at the University of Florida.

After graduating, she even moved to Panama to get her PhD, but lost interest when there didn’t seem to be much interest in the work she wanted to do.

“I had a very weird anthropological-botanical focus, and I couldn’t find anyone to give me the money to study it,” she told W magazine last month. “I had to shift my focus to something a little broader, and I wasn’t as interested in it.”

After spending a year traveling throughout Central America, and then making the move to California, Wainwright was ready to give commercial acting a try. “I never had a fear about it; I never had any hesitation to try,” she told Wonderland. “It just so happened that my luck unfolded in a way that I have pretty much worked consistently ever since I started.”

Alisha Wainwright in Shadowhunters

She Bartered with a Photographer for Her First Headshot

In an interview with Backstage, Wainwright opened up about her very first headshot — and the unusual way she paid for it.

I traded this local wine photographer a case of wine for a couple of headshots. He did mostly profile photos for people in corporate businesses, but I showed him examples of headshots and he took photos of me [in that style],” she told the outlet.

While she said the headshots “looked very professional,” she admitted that they gave off “corporate” vibes.

“At the end of the day, it was an opportunity to get my foot in the door at the agency in San Francisco, [where they] encouraged me to get new ones,” she remarked.

She Got Her Big Break Opposite Michael B. Jordan

Although Wainwright continued to find work following her move to California, her big break came when she was cast in the Freeform supernatural drama Shadowhunters in 2016.

Her next major project was Netflix’s Raising Dion, a science fiction series which premiered last month and revolves around Wainwright’s character Nicole, a single mother who finds out her son has supernatural powers following the death of her husband, played by Michael B. Jordan, who also served as an executive producer for the series.

“He is one of the most kind and generous people on our producing team,” she recently told BET of the Black Panther star. “Obviously, he’s a beautiful person, but I also think he’s so admirable in what he’s trying to do with his business, and I respect that.”

“I would love to emulate that myself,” she added. “So, more so than a heartthrob, I think of him as a role model.”

She’s Got the Travel Bug

Wainwright says her love of travel — which she documents on Instagram — is a direct result of her parents.

“My mother is Jamaican and my father is Haitian, so growing up I spent a lot of my very early years going back and forth between both countries,” she told Conde Nast Traveler in September, adding that traveling so much at a young age was full of life lessons.

“My first meaningful memories of traveling to Haiti are from when I was a little older—like five or six. That was the first time I saw what impoverishment looked like, and how different someone’s life could be from my own—someone who’s right outside my front door,” she added.

Although the actress doesn’t have quite as much time to jet around the world these days, she still makes a point of getting away when she can.

“When I do travel I want it to be purposeful. I want to feel like I’m traveling with intention,” she explained. “I recently took a week off and went on a scuba diving trip to Bali by myself—I was super overwhelmed with my work schedule at the time and I wanted to decompress a little bit. Sometimes you need a trip like that.”

She Boxes to Stay Fit

Wainwright is an avid boxer and her Instagram is filled with videos of her workouts.

“Boxing and twerk lessons brought to you by @hitmonjohn,” she captioned one video from July, which showed her sparring with a partner at the gym before the pair playfully stopped what they were doing to show off their moves.