You may know Lee Barney's face from the recent thirst trap-themed commercial bestowed upon us by Shea Moisture.
Or you may remember him when he made his first modeling debut in 2016 thanks to Marvin Bienaime who saw fit to capture the budding model Lee in all of his bearded glory. Whichever way he was introduced, you better believe he left a lasting impression. And it wasn't just his blessed facial features or his chiseled frame that made us want to take a second, more fixated look. This Pennsylvania native is a devout family man who is blessed to be surrounded by a pair of loving and supporting parents and a gang of lively siblings.
Lee knows the importance of getting and staying on the right track, especially when it comes to achieving your dreams and making the most out of tough environments. Growing up in Erie, he knew he had to set a positive example, not just for his family or himself, but also for his son. He was able to secure a scholarship playing college football at Johnson C. Smith University where he obtained his Bachelor's degree in English. He would later have a short stint in the NFL but that proved to only be the beginning for Lee.
Since then, he's been able to secure modeling gigs for multiple brands and has even graced the runway for New York Fashion Week. Now, he's set his sights on perfecting his craft and pursuing other creative outlets, such as acting with a couple projects set to film soon.
We got the chance to catch up with Lee to discuss the importance of positive male role models, his ideal partner, and how it feels being “Bearded Bae."
xoNecole: Congratulations on the Shea Moisture commercial. How'd that come about?
Lee Barney: Thank you! Actually, a photographer ended up messaging me and asking me if I'd be interested in doing it. So, I flew out for it. I get there and the set up was real dope. The guys were really cool. We were all just kind of kicking it, you know? The way we were filming it, I didn't think it was going to turn out the way it did. But it was really cool, I liked it a lot.
Now you were fortunate enough not to experience an absentee parent, but there's been this longstanding stigma surrounding black men and their presence or lack of, in the home. How do you feel about that?
I think there's a shift happening of more black fathers wanting to be in their child's life. You know we see what type of world we're living in. We can see that we're not respected. So, I think more black men want to be around their children to tell them they're loved, that they have the same rights as everybody else, and that they're just as good as anybody else. I love driving down the street seeing a black father out with his son or daughter, just enjoying life together. It's a beautiful thing.
There's definitely been this whole sort of movement dedicated to showcasing and emphasizing the importance of positive black family dynamics, specifically when it comes to the father and child. You have a son, so how important do you think that is?
It's very important. Personally, I think it's important not just for what it says about black men, but also what it says about black women. The men need to be seen with their children and need to play an active role in their child's lives. I love being able to go and get my little man and hang out with him, I love it. And I know sometimes we as black men are hard to deal with. It's some dudes out here who think just because they're doing right by the child, they can talk how they want to the child's mother. That's not right, but the fact that the mother still allows him to be a part of their kid's life shows how strong they are.
Black women sometimes let a lot of stuff slide just to make amends and that just really speaks to how strong they can be.
In addition to “strong," how else would you describe black women?
They are magical and wondrous. Black women make you feel so much better about your life. They have a different insight than anyone else in the world. They understand the world in ways that no one else can. Like, what would the world be without women in general but specifically, black women? It's dope when you meet that one that understands what you're going through and you can just go through life with them.
They are magical and wondrous. Black women make you feel so much better about your life.
Speaking of meeting that “one," how do you go about dating now?
I don't try to find or look for anything. I like for things to happen. But I do feel like it doesn't take anything to slide in someone's DMs, I don't like that. Like, if you get turned down, you can just go about your business, you know? (laughs) But to actually see a woman, approach her, get her name, and figure out more about her, I still like that. That's usually how I go about it.
What would make you approach a woman?
She has to have the right vibe to her, like this aura. She's got to draw me in. There's got to be something about her in the way that she carries herself.
If you could create your ideal partner, what characteristics would they have?
I love women who know how to laugh and are God-fearing women. And I like spontaneous women. I don't like to be bored and I'm very spontaneous too so… On a physical note, I like brown-skinned women since my color is a little darker. They just do something to me (laughs). My Mother is brown-skinned, my sister. I love them.
Are you currently dating?
I'm dating, but I am getting to know someone. (laughs)
What are the some of the things you really hope to have in your next relationship?
She has to have her own. If we were building something together and it didn't work, I don't want to feel bad that I left you and you didn't have anything. Now, if you're with me, if you're mine? You won't ever need your purse. I got you. I'm a gentleman. I open doors. I still say yes ma'am, no ma'am. And she has to cook! I can cook too so, we can share that together, but that's kind of huge for me. (laughs)
What are some of the major life lessons that you've learned so far?
Be patient. I thought I would have learned that playing sports, but life is really about being patient. And having a plan. If you just have this dream but you don't have any goals leading to it, then all it will be is a dream. I had dreams and a plan to play pro football and I accomplished that, but it wouldn't have happened if I didn't map out what I needed to do. So, have a plan, be patient, and just be yourself throughout all of it.
On being dubbed “Bearded Bae": It's dope to actually have people look at us in that light but I'm just chilling. It's more fun seeing the other guys turn up. It's cool to see them and for all of us have that exposure. There was one guy on the set; he was real chill when we were there. But now? Oh, he's a rock star on the 'Gram. (laughs)
On his Woman Crushes: Sevyn Streeter, Karrueche, and Ryan Destiny are gorgeous.
On the worst date he's ever been on: I went to the movies with this girl. When we met up, she was 20 minutes late and I like the previews, so I missed all of that. So, when we're inside, the movie has already started and the whole time her phone keeps going off. So, she'll check it, text back or ignore the call then put it down, and she keeps doing it. So, I asked her could she turn her phone light down just to, you know, kind of clue her in to put her phone away. But she ended up walking out to take a phone call and she was gone for like 10 minutes. So, I got up, I saw her outside and just told her bye. I felt disrespected, it was crazy. (laughs)
On 3 things people would be surprised to know: I perform poetry. I like the challenge of keeping someone's attention just with your words. Also, I love to eat (laughs). I'll eat everything, seafood is probably my favorite though. And I can dance! A lot of people don't really expect that either. They see the muscles and all of that, but I got them moves too. (laughs)
For more of Lee Barney, follow him on Instagram.
Shanelle Harris is a Southern-based freelance writer & fashion social media curator. When she's not in class or writing, you can catch her quoting Drake lyrics and spreading #BlackGirlMagic one outfit post at a time. You can follow her on IG: @random__nelle.