There are few things on this planet as reliably cringe inducing as a celebrity faking an accent on purpose and with conviction for a ludicrously extended period of time outside of a movie role. Like watching a game of Olympic-level ping-pong, you think, How do they keep it going for so long? and also, Why is this the activity they’ve chosen to devote their life to? Madonna is the housemother of this field, and Lindsay Lohan is one of its greatest living practitioners. Over the holidays, when many people were doing things like not following minor celebrity drama on Twitter and Instagram, a compelling theory emerged about Alec Baldwin’s wife Hilaria: that she may have been faking her Spanish accent, and maybe even her Spanish heritage, for years.
Hilaria Baldwin entered the news when Amy Schumer reposted an Instagram photo of Baldwin from December 20. In the photo, Baldwin wore lingerie and posed with her and Alec’s new baby, Eduardo. Schumer reposted the image as if it were a photo of herself, with the caption, “Gene and I wanted to wish everyone a happy holiday season. Enjoy it with whatever family members are talking to you this year.” The joke is that Schumer looks nothing like Baldwin. Baldwin didn’t get it, Schumer deleted the post, and now the two celebrity mothers have made up and seem to have become Instagram friends:
While this was all still trending on December 21, Twitter user @lenibriscoe tweeted, “You have to admire Hilaria Baldwin’s commitment to her decade long grift where she impersonates a Spanish person,” followed by a thread of evidence that deserves its own true-crime podcast.
It turns out that while some of Baldwin’s online profiles previously stated that she was born in Mallorca, Spain, many people across the internet had come forward to claim that they grew up with her in Massachusetts, her birth name is Hillary Hayward-Thomas, and that she didn’t have a trace of an accent during her childhood or during the years when she taught yoga. @lenibriscoe’s thread provided what appeared to be evidence that both sides of Baldwin’s family hailed from Massachusetts as well, and that her mother would have been in med school in Massachusetts when Baldwin was born. (Baldwin’s parents and brother do currently live in Spain, however, and have for a number of years.)
These claims contrasted with footage of Baldwin faking a Spanish accent on Good Morning America shortly after her marriage to Alec in 2012:
And this moment from Today in 2015 when Baldwin seems to forget the word cucumber, which she completes with a chef’s kiss “How you say?”
On December 27, Twitter user Rachel Zarrell posted a clip of Baldwin on the podcast #MOMTRUTHS from April 2020 in which Baldwin claims she “moved here when I was 19 to go to NYU.”
On December 25, journalist Aura Bogado tweeted about why she found Baldwin’s alleged cultural mimicry to be harmful: For years, Baldwin was featured in Latinx outlets, including Latina and Hola!, appropriating the identity of a Spanish-speaking immigrant while others “have been denied opportunities for our actual accents … The fact that she pretended to be an immigrant, at a time of hatred, detention, and deportation, is sick.”
And on December 26, Instagram user Tracie Morrissey found that Baldwin is listed as a notable alumnus on the Wikipedia page for the Massachusetts private school which alleged former classmates have said they attended with her.
On December 27, Baldwin responded to the allegations in two separate Instagram videos. The first video, in which Baldwin wears pajamas, starts with an admission that contradicts her official bio: “I’m born in Boston. And then I spent some of my childhood in Boston and some of my childhood in Spain.” She also addresses her fluid accent, saying, “I am that person, that if I’ve been speaking a lot of Spanish I tend to mix them, and if I’m speaking more English, then I mix that,” and that this is not something she’s “playing at.” Baldwin admits that she went to high school in the United States and clarifies, “Yes, I am a white girl, I am a white girl. And let’s be very clear that Europe, you know, has a lot of white people in them, in there. And my family is white. Ethnically, I’m a mix of many, many, many things. Culturally, I grew up with the two cultures.” She adds, “The reason why I wanted to take it so seriously is because cultural conversations are a thing we’re having more and more.”
In the second video, Baldwin has changed from pajamas to clothes and revisits an old talking point: “I was moving around a lot, but I came here when I was 19 years old to go to college.” In the last 30 seconds of this video, she backtracks to clarify that when she said “I moved here at age 19” on the #MOMTRUTHS podcast, here was referring to New York, not the United States — so even if it might have seemed like she was implying that was when she immigrated, technically, she did not.
Baldwin finishes the video by refusing to apologize for being a beautiful example of diversity because she speaks two languages and calls her children the Baldwinitos: “Leave me alone. I’m not doing anything wrong by being me. And maybe that doesn’t look like somebody you’ve met before. But isn’t that the beauty of diversity?” she asks. “I’m not going to apologize for the amount of time that I’ve spent in two countries, and I’m not going to apologize for the fact that I speak two languages. And I’m not going to apologize for the fact that I have two versions of my name, which is the same name.” Her husband Alec can also be heard making comments off-camera during this confessional.
Speaking of Alec, he posted his own video to Instagram in which he calls TMZ and the New York Post a “sewage plant,” compares Twitter to a flea market in a very ineffective metaphor, and repeats the mantra, “Consider the source.” Because “when you love somebody, you want to defend them.” This video is somehow more chilling and creepy than Kevin Spacey’s Christmas address.
So, what is the truth? It seems as though Hilaria Baldwin genuinely believes that she is entitled to claim Spanish culture and identification because her American parents now live in Mallorca. “But isn’t that the beauty of diversity?”
Update, December 29: As “Page Six” points out, Hilaria Baldwin’s Creative Artists Agency speaker biography now no longer mentions where she was born or where she grew up. Previously, it had included the sentence, “Baldwin was born in Mallorca, Spain and raised in Boston, Massachusetts,” according to screenshots.
Update, December 30: Hilaria Baldwin defended her right to be spicy white in a new interview with the New York Times. She blamed the confusion on “people misrepresenting” her, saying “There is not something I’m doing wrong, and I think there is a difference between hiding and creating a boundary.” Baldwin now says her connection to Spain came from yearly family vacations, declining to go into specifics. “I think it would be maddening to do such a tight time line of everything,” she said. “You know, sometimes there was school involved. Sometimes it was vacation. It was such a mix, mishmash, is that the right word? Like a mix of different things.” A mix of different things is exactly what Baldwin believes herself to be. “Where is the smoking gun?” she asks about accusations of wrongdoing. “My intentions are I’m living my life and my life is created by my parents, my different experiences, my languages, my culture and, yeah, my kids do have very Spanish-influenced names.”