Ali Wong doesn't shy away from joking about how she "trapped" her husband. She talks about it at length in her 2016 debut Netflix special "Baby Cobra" and 2018 follow-up "Hard Knock Wife," recounting how she met her husband, Justin Hakuta, at a friend's wedding and proceeded to court the Fulbright scholar and Harvard Business School student while living in New York City.
The "trap" didn't go off without a hitch, though. She's joked onstage that, before getting married in 2014, she was forced by her husband's family to sign a prenuptial agreement. (Hakuta grew up in a wealthy household and is the son of Japanese-American inventor and TV personality Ken Hakuta, also known as "Dr. Fad.")
And as she reveals in her new book, it's actually done wonders for her career.
"I was very motivated to make my own money because I signed a document specifically outlining how much I couldn't depend on my husband," she writes in "Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets and Advice for Living Your Best Life," out Oct. 15. "My father always praised 'the gift of fear,'" she continues, "and that prenup scared the s--- out of me. In the end, being forced to sign that prenup was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me and my career."
The 37-year-old entertainer's memoir is written as a letter to her two young daughters, and she shares her thoughts on family, marriage, motherhood and the highs and lows of her career thus far. Her brutally honest brand of humor weaves in and out of stories that are at times laugh-out-loud funny, and other times vulnerable, as she imparts life lessons about growing up.
Jokes aside, Wong's commitment to her work is underscored, as she tells stories about breaking into the San Francisco comedy scene, landing TV acting roles and joining "Fresh Off the Boat" as a staff writer in 2015.
While her husband may have had a more lucrative career in tech when they got married, Wong's hustle has paid off since then, and she's joked about being the higher-earner in the relationship because of it. "It is said that if you earn more in the relationship, then you are the breadwinner," Wong says in a "Hard Knock Wife" bit. "I think my husband's the real breadwinner, because he won a bread machine."
The past few years have been a whirlwind of career growth for the multi-hyphenate, including landing a recurring role on the show "American Housewife" and writing, producing and starring in Netflix's star-studded "Always Be My Maybe." She's also been on a stand-up tour across the U.S. since February.
Another thing that's helped Wong's career as both her stable of work and family grow: learning how to manage housework and childcare with her husband, though she says it's far from a 50/50 split.
She writes that, while responsibilities rotate based on schedules, it's sometimes necessary for Hakuta to take on the majority of home maintenance when her workload is high. She says they've taken great lengths to spend as much time together as a family as possible.
For example, when Wong was filming "Always Be My Maybe" in Vancouver during the summer of 2018, she rented an apartment near set, so the girls could be there with her, instead of having to travel back and forth from their home in Los Angeles every weekend. Hakuta flew in to visit throughout the six-week filming period while working as a vice president at a multi-billion-dollar tech company in L.A.
In some of the more intimate moments of the book, Wong shares how much she values the teamwork she and her husband have maintained in order for both to succeed professionally and personally. It's not without some outside help — and humor — of course.
"We go to couple's therapy every Friday morning at 9 a.m.," she writes, "because it's cheaper than a divorce."
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