Vaughn Hebron may be one of the leads of BET's hit series, The Oval, but the Baltimore-bred actor is the perfect leading man off- and on-screen. Though he plays Bartholomew "Barry" Hallsen, a young father to daughter Callie and son of the esteemed White House butler, Hebron's chiseled physique and abs for days are a tempting distraction from any lines he might be reading.
The Lafayette College alumnus attended his alma mater on a partial scholarship for Division I football where he became an active member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. After graduation, he pursued a short career in pharmaceuticals, and in January 2017, he decided to give acting a shot by moving to Los Angeles. Who would've thought that two short years and a push of encouragement from his stepfather later, he would be booked as a series regular on one of the leading shows on BET?
xoNecole caught up with the actor about physical health as a factor in attractiveness, why he didn't date while he was in college, and his thoughts on the relationship between mother and son being a reflection of how a man will treat a woman. Take a look at our conversation below!
xoNecole: How do you believe Barry has evolved since we met him in the first season?
Vaughn Hebron: The Oval for Barry started like a regular day just going to help his father out at the White House—something that he's always done. He thought it was going to be a regular night and then he gets accused of rape, which is something he's never obviously encountered before, especially in a place that was so familiar to him. He managed to get off even though his life was almost ruined. Literally, within one day, his whole life just flipped and changed. As a young man, he was trying to better himself, get his own place, and out of his parents' spot just so he could grow into his manhood and be independent.
Pretty much until the end of the season, he's dealing with blow after blow of his reality being shattered, his baby being taken, and the people that he thought would be on his side really not showing the support he thought. That's what makes him lash out a lot and makes him do some reckless things. You start to see where a good guy—when faced with a lot of extreme adversity and hardship in such a short period—just cracks under all of that pressure.
Related to romance, in what ways do you feel you connect with Barry's story?
Well, I don't have baby-mama drama, thankfully. If I ever did, I'm hoping that she's not part of a crazy cult that's kidnapping kids and stuff. I surely hope not, but it's Hollywood so you never know (laughs). I think Sharon reminds him so much of his mother, and I understand trying to find your mother in your spouse and trying to find those good qualities that really love about your mother. At the same time, as Sharon talks about throughout the season, she never really had a close relationship with Barry's daughter. Barry and the way he lashed out at his mother is the same way he lashes out at Sharon a few times when he just can't trust any woman (laughs).
I have way better luck with women than Barry does. I do believe that he genuinely wanted the world with Sharon and wanted to be a good father. It's sad that extreme circumstances can really affect everything and everybody around you.
Speaking of mothers, I was always taught that you can tell a lot about how a man’s going to treat you based on how he treats his mother. How true do you find that to be?
I don't know if that's always true because mothers—as much as we love them and they're a God-sent blessing—they're not always perfect. Sometimes a mother can do something that really affects the relationship that she has with her son. I think the way that a man respects his mother and holds her in regard is what you can expect, yes. [However,] just because they don't have the best relationship doesn't mean that's gonna reflect in a relationship that a woman will have with a man.
My mother and I—of course, she's still my mother—but at this point, we kind of have more like a big sister-little brother relationship. We joke, laugh, and talk to each other like we really grew up together (laughs). It's so funny because that's my friend, and of course, I would never disrespect her or anything like that, but I will still have a real conversation and banter with her in a way some people might not ever go back and forth with their mother. That's just the relationship that we have with each other.
I think you have to gauge that and I don't always think it's a reflection. You know if he doesn't respect or at least know how to talk to his mother, then he might not know how to talk to you as a woman.
You’re the oldest of nine siblings. What has being this taught you about love and patience that can be translated into relationships?
What being the oldest has probably taught me the most is that everybody matures, grows, and comes into their maturation and who they are in their own time. What works for somebody or what standard that somebody has for themselves isn't going to be the same standard for everybody else. For me, by the time I graduated, I went straight into the workforce and I was pretty independent. I was also independent in college. For my brothers, it either took them a longer time to graduate or after they graduated, they moved back in with our parents. Everybody had a different standard of where their life was going to lead them and what they were going to do with themselves.
When it comes to relationships, it taught me that the standard you might've had for your ex, somebody you used to talk to or any other situation, you can't always bring that to this new person. You have to gauge where they are and see if where they are works for you or not, but you can't really compare them or try to hold somebody else to a standard where somebody else was at, especially if it didn't work for you. That kills me sometimes. A lot of times people will be like, 'I'm used to this. I'm used to a man doing this. I'm used to a man saying this," and I'll be like, "Well, are you still with that person?' (laughs). If it didn't work for you and if it didn't work out, why are you comparing this to something that didn't work?
"When it comes to relationships, it taught me that the standard you might've had for your ex, somebody you used to talk to or any other situation, you can't always bring that to this new person. You have to gauge where they are and see if where they are works for you or not, but you can't really compare them or try to hold somebody else to a standard where somebody else was at, especially if it didn't work for you."
That's definitely true. If it didn’t work back then and you keep trying to make that work, chances are that it may not work. Let’s just hang that up.
Yeah, everybody moves in a different way. Everybody has their own beat that they dance to. All you have to do is see if it works for you or if it doesn't. Trying to compare and hold somebody else to a standard that they don't even think about, I find it to be less effective most of the time.
You mentioned that straight out of college, you started working. How would you compare dating in college to dating while you’re working out in the real world?
Honestly, I didn't really date like that in college. I was on the football team, then I pledged and became a Que so dating wasn't really in the cards for me in college because I had other priorities. I would say if I did get close to somebody in college, we did little things like go to the movies, go out to eat here or there or we would hang out on campus. Everything was carefree and I don't think we were really looking towards the future with things back in college.
I've always dated older women, too, to be honest with you so when I graduated and started working, the women I dated after that just seemed to know where they were going or they knew what they were trying to work toward. It was one of those things where if I wasn't helping them, or if I wasn't on the same page, it probably wasn't gonna work out. They weren't really just trying to chill out and be casual with things. They were like, 'Look, if we ain't building toward a relationship or something more than just us hanging out, it's not for me.'
Dating after college became something like seriously dating, building, and progressing and not just a relationship where it's like, "This is my girlfriend and we do girlfriend-boyfriend stuff." We make each other better and we're working toward something long-term. The standards and the expectations went up.
What are the top lessons that the entertainment industry has taught you about dating?
The No. 1 lesson that I've learned out here is people have different priorities and you have to know what those priorities are before you take them seriously. What I mean by that is coming from Baltimore—the East Coast—everybody seems to be on the same wave. You graduate college, you go get a job, you become successful in that job, you find a woman, you make her your wife, and then y'all live happily ever after with your big house, some equity, some investments, and some kids. That's what everybody was on where I was from.
Over here, people have different priorities because people don't move to L.A. to get married. They move to L.A. to become movie stars, actresses, the next biggest model, or the next big R&B singer. Everyone has different priorities when it comes to being out here, so you have to know that before getting involved with somebody. Even if they say they're open to a relationship, if their actions show that you are not a priority and their job, clout, or image is a bigger priority, that's something that you have to make sure you understand so you don't end up getting hurt. You can't just assume that because somebody says they want a relationship—or they're acting like they want a relationship —means that they really want a relationship.
You’re also recognized for being really smart. You graduated with degrees in Economics and Business and a minor in Africana Studies. How important is it to you that a woman has brains?
It's very important to me because I love intelligence. I love a woman who's witty and smart, and because I'm a person that loves intelligence, I like going back and forth with people and having good conversations, debates and exchanges of thought. That's intimate to me. It can be very intimate, actually. That's one of the things that I cherish and appreciate when I talk to someone. If I can't have a real conversation with you and talk to you about some deep stuff, then it's just not going anywhere.
To add to that, one of the biggest things that I also appreciate is when somebody can teach me something and can add onto the knowledge I have and get me to think about things in a different way. If she's not intelligent, always learning or growing herself, or developing personally, she wouldn't be able to do that for me if she's not working on herself individually. I think that goes for anybody. If you're not bettering yourself and if you're not constantly feeding your mind and soul—pouring into yourself—how can you pour into somebody else? Intelligence and wit is something I value a lot when it comes to women.
"If she's not intelligent, always learning or growing herself, or developing personally, she wouldn't be able to do that for me if she's not working on herself individually. I think that goes for anybody. If you're not bettering yourself and if you're not constantly feeding your mind and soul—pouring into yourself—how can you pour into somebody else? Intelligence and wit is something I value a lot when it comes to women."
You’re not just brains. You’re also brawn! On your IG, we see the arms, abs and in 'GQ South Africa', you talked about fitness and working out.
A little bit, a little bit (laughs).
No, you do it. Don’t flex! How does working out and physical fitness play a role when you’re looking for a woman?
It plays a big role and it's probably gonna be the first thing I see. The physical appearance is probably the first thing I'm attracted to—it is what it is. I'm not saying she has to look like Beyonce or J.Lo, but I definitely need a woman who takes care of herself physically. If I'm putting so much time and energy into my body—and I'm not saying you have to do what I do— and you're not making sure you're not on top of your own body, physical fitness, and mental health, then there's gonna be an issue.
When it comes to diet, it plays a role in a lot of things—your mental health, how tired you are, your sexual health. Fitness is a universal thing, so I have to make sure you're on it because I'm going to be on it. Luckily I'm in an industry where they take their physical health and appearance pretty seriously, and it's L.A.. More often than not, I meet women who are already working out and taking care of themselves, so that's been a good thing.
You put in your Instagram bio that you are an “intellectual bad boy”. If you could put your perfect woman in three words, what would it be?
Wow, I really said that? (Laughs.) Intelligent, committed, and priceless. Oh yeah, that's a good one.
*Some answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.
Featured photo courtesy of Rowan Daly