With entertainment venues slowly beginning to re-open, stand-up comics are making their way back to stages across the country. This includes Chris Rock, who hit up New York’s Comedy Cellar this week with fellow Saturday Night Live alum David Spade. But Rock’s reemergence has got us reminiscing about his pre-Covid life—specifically his highly publicized 2016 divorce from Malaak Compton-Rock.
Now that the legendary comic is back bringing laughs, what is his former spouse up to? Read on to get the scoop on Chris Rock’s ex-wife and the projects she’s working on.
Chris Rock And Malaak Compton-Rock Married In 1996
According to a Rolling Stone profile, Chris met Malaak in 1994 when he crashed the Essence magazine awards. At the time, the public relations veteran oversaw the Special Events and Celebrity Relations Department for UNICEF. With her job requiring her to be bi-coastal, Malaak dated the funnyman long-distance before they tied the knot in 1996.
Despite their roving lifestyles, she saw kids in their future. The couple wound up having two daughters: Lola Simone, born in 2003, and Zahra Savannah, born in 2005. A third girl, Ntombi, was adopted from South Africa in 2008, but her status in the family is a bit complicated (more on that later).
In 2006, word spread that their marriage was on the rocks. TMZ broke a story that the comedian filed for divorce, but his rep refused to comment. The couple tried to squash the rumors in a joint statement to People.
“Though we have tried in the past to take the high road and not comment on the tabloid media, we find it necessary to express on record how unfortunate it is that… tabloid outlets have chosen to print untrue rumors and lies about our family and marriage,” they said.
“It is extremely hurtful to us, our children, and our extended family. We remain, as always, very happy and committed to our marriage and the beautiful family that we have built.”
Why Did Malaak Compton-Rock And Chris Rock Get A Divorce?
Despite their denials, the couple divorced in 2014.
“This was a long time coming,” an insider told People. “Chris has known it wasn’t salvageable for a while. He was the one to file because he knew it was time to just move forward already.”
By 2017, the reasons for the split were no longer a secret. “I was a piece of [expletive],” he said during a set at the Comedy Cellar; he then confessed to three different types of women he cheated with: one famous, one semi-famous, and one “member of the retail class.”
Page Six then claimed that the famous woman was his I Think I Love My Wife co-star Kerry Washington.
“He was cheating on his wife with Kerry when they were filming [I Think I Love My Wife] about him, ironically, having fantasies of cheating on his wife,” said a source. “That went on for a while, for like six months, and she found out. There’s no gray area.”
Rock took accountability for his mistakes in 2018’s Tamborine—his first stand-up special in a decade.
“When guys cheat, it’s like we want something new,” he told the audience. “But then you know what happens? Your woman finds out, and now she’s new — she is never the same again. So now you have new, but you have a bad new.”
He continued, “Some of these lessons you’ve just got to learn. Like, I brought this [expletive] on myself.”
Their Divorce Was Super Messy
The divorce wasn’t pretty. For starters, a “sunset clause” made their prenup void after a certain number of years. This meant that Chris was subject to child support, alimony, and other payments requested by his ex.
He argued that she had “the ability to work and contribute to her own support, as well as the support and other financial needs of the children.” But Malaak hit back and demanded support that matched her standard of living at the height of her estranged husband’s fame.
Another major sticking point was child support for Ntombi, who was brought home from South Africa in 2008. In December 2015, it was reported that the Rocks were the subjects of an investigation related to how the girl landed in their care. She entered the country on a trade visa, but Malaak didn’t file for legal adoption until the divorce proceedings revealed that neither of the Rocks was her official legal guardian.
“While the adoption by Malaak is not yet finalized, it is actively in process under the rigorous guidelines and safeguards of international adoption policy,” said Malaak Compton-Rock’s lawyer David Aronson. “The child is in the country lawfully with the written consent of her birth parents, and while here, has been cherished and adored by the entire Rock family.”
Chris refused to acknowledge Ntombi as his child, and Malaak battled with him in court over custody of their biological children. The divorce was finalized in 2016, and Chris retold his side of the story on stage.
What Malaak Compton-Rock Is Doing In 2021
Malaak no longer works for UNICEF, but she continues a career as a humanitarian. In 2010, she wrote the book If It Takes a Village, Build One: How I Found Meaning Through a Life of Service and 100+ Ways You Can Too. She’s also the founder of the Angelrock Project, an “online e-village promoting volunteerism, social responsibility, and sustainable change.”
Additionally, Compton-Rock is on the board of the Children’s Defense Fund, a nonprofit organization that advocates for “poor children, children of color, and those with disabilities.”
Lastly, she remains a dedicated mom. When she’s not using her Instagram feed to honor Black leaders and publicize Angelrock’s latest initiatives, she uses the space to praise her three girls.