In a twist absolutely nobody saw coming, the internet decided to focus itself this week on a controversy about Hilaria Baldwin's family and, more specifically, her accent and heritage. There's a disappearing/reappearing Spanish accent, a video of her apparently forgetting how to say "cucumber" in English, discrepancies regarding where she was born and grew up... it's a lot. So let's unpack what's been going on.
It all started when Twitter user @lenibriscoe tweeted, "You have to admire Hilaria Baldwin’s commitment to her decade long grift where she impersonates a Spanish person." They backed up this claim that Baldwin has perhaps exaggerated her Spanish identity with a deep dive into past TV appearances and social media posts by the celebrity yoga instructor. In these earlier clips, she does have a much more pronounced Spanish accent than she does in more recent Instagram videos and other appearances.
Baldwin's official CAA speaker's page states she was born in Mallorca, an island in Spain, and was raised in Boston. Earlier this year, Baldwin claimed on the Cocktails and Conversations with Cat and Nat podcast that she came to the United States at 19 to attend NYU, but there's plenty of evidence that she spent large portions of her childhood — and was educated in — in the Boston area.
Additionally, in a lengthy Instagram Story, reporter Tracie Morrissey pointed out that the influencer had not corrected repeated and uncorrected references to her alleged Spanish heritage, including in Spanish magazine Hola!, where she was profiled twice. Numerous sources responded to the thread claiming to have known Baldwin in her younger years and claimed she had no accent and went by the name Hillary. The story has drawn comparisons to Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who pretended to be Black for years.
On Sunday, Baldwin took to Instagram to tell her side of the story. "I’ve seen chatter online questioning my identity and culture. This is something I take very seriously, and for those who are asking — I’ll reiterate my story, as I’ve done many times before," she wrote. "I was born in Boston and grew up spending time with my family between Massachusetts and Spain. My parents and sibling live in Spain and I chose to live here, in the USA. We celebrate both cultures in our home — Alec and I are raising our children bilingual, just as I was raised. This is very important to me. I understand that my story is a little different, but it is mine, and I’m very proud of it."
"I've tried in the past to be clear," she said in the accompanying video, "but sometimes people don't always report and write what you say and I've kind of just put my hands up." Baldwin explained that she grew up speaking two languages and that she's always been "a little bit insecure" and mixing the two. Regarding the alleged changing of her name from "Hillary" as she was known by classmates in Boston and "Hilaria," she explained that she would go by either growing up but decided to "consolidate" and go by Hilaria a few years before dating her husband Alec Baldwin in 2011, as that's what her family called her. "It's the same name, just a few letters different," she said. "So I think we shouldn't be so upset about it."
Now that Baldwin has addressed the controversy, here are some things we do know for sure.
She Was Born In The USA
In her Instagram post, Baldwin states definitively that she was born in Boston. An alum of The Cambridge School shared her yearbook photo on Twitter, which revealed she attended high school there under the name Hillary Hayward-Thomas before attending New York University. Of her heritage, Baldwin emphatically stated in her Instagram post that she is "a white girl" but was raised with two cultures, speaking two languages, but that "ethnically, I'm a mix of many, many, many things."
Her American Parents Live In Spain
Both parents, Dr. Kathryn Hayward, a doctor and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, and David Thomas, an attorney were born and raised in the US, according to a report from The Daily Mail. Internet sleuths have even found an obituary for her grandfather, which places her father's family as having been in America since the before the Revolutionary War. Her parents do currently live in Mallorca, Spain but did not move there until 2011, according to Vanity Fair.
She Shares 5 Children With Alec Baldwin
Baldwin began dating actor Alec Baldwin in 2011 and the pair married in 2012. They have five children together: 7-year-old Carmen, 5-year-old Rafael, 4-year-old Leonardo, 2-year-old Romeo, and 3-month-old Eduardo. The actor has not explicitly addressed the controversy, but took to Instagram on Sunday saying that Twitter is "full of sh*t." Alec Baldwin has previously referred to his wife as Spanish, including during an interview with David Letterman in 2013.
Beyond this controversy, Hilaria has recently been in the spotlight due, in part, to Amy Schumer's Instagram Christmas card — a repost of a photo Hilaria shared of herself Baldwin and her new baby, Eduardo — which the comedian shared in a now-deleted post. Baldwin, it would seem, wasn't too happy, responding on Instagram, "I literally had to have someone explain this joke to me...still don't get it 100%...but... I'll like it and I'll comment some emojis." (Schumer has since apologized.)