Hayden Panettiere is now dating a man named Brian Hickerson. The couple were spotted holding hands outside of a West Hollywood restaurant last week, and E! Online reports that they’re very serious about one another. A source tells E! that they Panettiere and Hickerson met through mutual friends, and that “hit it off” immediately.
Panettiere, 28, has been seeing Hickerson, also 28, for little over a month, and recently announced her split from fiancé Wladimir Klitschko, whom she has a 3-year-old daughter named Kaya with.
Here’s what you need to know about Brian Hickerson:
1. He’s Been Supporting Panettiere During Her Split from Klitschko
According to E! Online, Hickerson has been supportive of Panettiere’s decision to call off her engagement. “Brian has been her sounding board since Hayden split from Wladimir and has really been there for her,” says an inside source. “They have been seeing each other for the past month and are hooking up.”
Panettiere and Klitschko have been dealing with rumors of an impending split since 2016, where they were photographed without their engagement rings on. A close friend of the couple said there was nothing to worry about. “Hayden was not wearing a ring, but they are definitely a couple,” they said. “They were affectionate and smiling as they walked around town. They had dinner by the water and he had his arm around her.”
After the couple confirmed their split, a source for E! Online said that Panettiere and Klitschko remain good friends. “At this point, Hayden is single and she and Wladimir are co-parents to Kaya. Kaya is primarily with her dad and his family in Europe and Florida,” they said. “They also spend time together as a family with Hayden. Hayden and Wladimir are on great terms and friendly. They are a big part of each other’s lives and will continue to be. Hayden is back in Los Angeles and figuring out what’s next.”
2. He Recently Moved to Los Angeles to Become an Actor
Hickerson hails from South Carolina, and only recently moved to Los Angeles. According to E! Online, he’s pursuing a career acting as well as real estate. “He is from South Carolina and moved to Los Angeles to do real estate and acting,” they revealed. “He just started getting into the acting business and is going on castings trying to break in the industry.”
To date, Hickerson only has one acting credit on his IMDb profile, which is the 2017 thriller M.F.A. starring Clifton Collins, Jr. and Clint Eastwood’s daughter Francesca. Hickerson plays a policeman named Officer Williams.
While it remains to be seen whether Hickerson will land any big roles, Panettiere has spoken about the difficulty of dating people who work in the same industry. “There’s no such thing as casual dating in this business,” she told Nylon magazine.”But then when you go through a breakup, it’s like a divorce. You have to put it out there eventually, because if you’re ever seen with another guy, even if he’s just a friend, you’re immediately cheating.”
3. He Used to Date Instagram Model Baskin Champion
According to E! Online, Panettiere is not the first celebrity that Hickerson has been romantically linked to. He has also dated Instagram model Baskin Champion, who subsequently gained attention for being seen with pop superstar Justin Beiber.
Champion has been modeling since 2012, and was crowned the 2014 Miss Alabama Teen USA. Two years later, she was named Miss Photogenic in the Miss Teen USA pageant. “I have already reached so many of my goals, such as moving to New York and Los Angeles, and modeling for bigger companies such as Hollister and Frankies Bikinis,” she told W Magazine at the time. “I am excited to see what else the Lord has in store.”
In March, Champion was pegged as the “mystery blonde” that Beiber was seen cozying up to outside of a club on the Sunset Strip. “The Biebs, who normally gravitates to brunettes, threw a change up outside the Roxy Tuesday night by opting for a blonde companion,” wrote TMZ.
Despite hanging out a few more times, Champion and Beiber’s relationship appears to fizzle out by May. “It was never a serious relationship, but they haven’t hung out in over a month,” a source told E! Online. “He really liked hanging with Baskin because she was down to earth and laid-back, but the distance has definitely been a factor.”
4. Panettiere Previously Dated Actors Milo Ventimiglia & Kevin Connolly
Like Hickerson, Panettiere has been romantic with other celebrities in the past. She dated her Heroes co-star Milo Ventimiglia from 2007 to 2009. The couple were quickly thrust into the spotlight– an aspect that ultimately led to the dissolution of their relationship. When asked whether he would date a co-star, Ventimiglia told People Magazine “never again.”
“There are things that happen to you in your life that shape who you are,” he explained. “Everything I’ve been through from jobs to friendships to partnerships, everything has built me to who I am. You learn from it. You learn a better way of doing things. It wasn’t until my mid to late twenties that the job wears on you, relationships wear on you.”
Panettiere was also romantically linked to Entourage actor Kevin Connolly. The rumored couple were spotting multiple times in 2009, though they never publicly confirmed their relationship. “I’ve known Kevin for so long,” the actress told Just Jared. “You can’t have friends with the opposite sex. It’s so funny. We’re just friends.”
5. He & Panettiere Were Seen Together Before Her Engagement Was Called Off
While Panettiere and Klitschko announced their split less than a week ago, it appears that she and Hickerson have been seeing each other much longer. E! Online reports that the couple have been romantically involved for over a month.
When asked what she looks for in a partner, Panettiere told The Telegraph that she wants someone mature. “It was never a case of me making a decision, saying, “I want to date older men,” she said. “But I am drawn to people who make me up my game, who bring me up to their level. I want to be with somebody who is more worldly than me, somebody who can give me guidance and is completely secure and comfortable with who they are.”