German Esther Haubensack (Hao Lianlu, 郝莲露) is best known in China as the American wife Diana in the popular Chinese TV series “Wailai Xifu, Bendi Lang” (外来媳妇本地郎), which has aired since 2000 and tells the story of a Chinese family in Guangzhou with four sons and their “outside” wives (whether from outside their region or outside the country). She has impressed many viewers by her ability to speak excellent Cantonese in her role, a language that some consider even more challenging than Mandarin.
But she has also captured the hearts of the Chinese public for another reason – in real life, she married a local Beijing taxi driver.
Esther Haubensack studied Mandarin and ancient Chinese at Peking University in the early 1990s and learned under the legendary cross-talk artist Ding Guangquan, who also mentored Dashan (aka Mark Roswell), one of China’s biggest foreign celebrities.
But while she was a student, she also met Wang Hongye, a Beijing taxi driver. At the time, she wasn’t so familiar with Beijing, and Wang was happy to serve as her “guide,” showing her all around the city. An article published in Chinese on Sina talks about how their courtship and eventual marriage, and here’s my translation of that excerpt:
Every time they went out to dinner, Wang Hongye would actively pay the bill. Hao Lianlu [Esther Haubensack] would feel embarrassed, and beneath the table would secretly stuff money [into his hands]. Hao Lianlu said, “I knew he didn’t have money in his pocket, but I also couldn’t allow him to lose face.”
After she finished her studies at Peking University, she decided to marry Wang Hongye. This international love really wasn’t as romantic as imagined. Hao Lianlu said, her husband had never said words like, “I love you.” The two of them together was just one small bit of everyday life.
Esther Haubensack and Wang Hongye got married in 1995. Nowadays, they reside with their two children in Guangzhou, where Haubensack has taken on a number of TV roles including Diana in “Wailai Xifu, Bendi Lang” (外来媳妇本地郎). She credits Wang for being a very supportive husband, as chronicled in this report:
She said, “Luckily, my husband is always there with me. He cooks for me, shares the chores, and takes care of the children when I am busy. To help me adhere to breast[feeding], he took the child to travel around with me during that period of time. Sometimes, I would go to the studio at 8:00 am and come back at noon to feed the child; if I get no time to come back home, he would take the child to the studio, so that I can make time to feed the child. Without him, I couldn’t have pulled all this off. He is always there for me.”
In a China where many still believe men should be the major breadwinners in the family, it’s refreshing to see a guy like Wang Hongye truly stepping up so his wife could still have her career.
Have you heard of Esther Haubensack before or her marriage to taxi driver Wang Hongye? What do you think of her story?