In what’s starting to feel like an ongoing saga where white women are adapting identities of women of color, yoga instructor and podcaster Hilaria Baldwin is now being accused of pretending to be of Spanish descent for a decade. It started when comedian/actress Amy Schumer reposted a photo Hilaria posted on Instagram holding her toddler 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.” According to People she since deleted it but Baldwin responded to the post with a video talking about inclusivity but it wasn’t the words that got people’s attention since her accent was very much American.
Twitter user @lenibriscoe’s viral thread includes videos in which Hilaria – who is married to actor Alec Baldwin – has a Spanish accent in interviews and claims to have moved to the U.S. from Mallorca, Spain. There’s video footage of an interview where she has a Spanish accent and another where she seems to forget the English word for “cucumber.”
You have to admire Hilaria Baldwin’s commitment to her decade long grift where she impersonates a Spanish person
— elena ilana alana alina elana (@lenibriscoe) December 21, 2020
In a 2018 Hola! profile, it states she was born in Spain and was ensuring her five kids speak Spanish. She had previously stated that she moved to the U.S. at the age of 19 to attend New York University but, as Tracie Egan Morrissey, a writer, producer, host of Pot Psychology points out, she is actually “Hillary Hayward-Thomas” and graduated high school from the Cambridge School of Weston in Weston, Massachusetts.
Fake Spanish accent debut – this woman grew up in Massachusetts pic.twitter.com/TZO47iHgO7
— elena ilana alana alina elana (not) (@lenibriscoe) December 21, 2020
Her parents are Dr. Kathryn Hayward, whose family is from Massachusetts, and David Thomas, whose family has roots in Vermont. Thomas, Hilaria’s father, studied Spanish literature in undergrad, and he and Hayward moved to Mallorca in 2011, Vox reported. In response to the controversy, Hilaria posted a video on Instagram calling herself “a white girl” and confirming she was born in Boston and spent time in Spain after her family moved there.
She posted a follow up video stating that journalists were the ones that created the Spanish immigrant narrative but it’s also apparent she’s never corrected them despite knowing articles like the Hola! profile stated she was born in Spain. “We’ve gotten calls from some different outlets that are planning to do different stories, and what’s frustrating is that they’ll say things that I’ve never said,” she says in the video. Her pinned tweet is from 2018 where she identifies her family as “The Baldwinitos” where she promotes the video series Canticos on Nick Jr. saying they’re a dual language household.
Hilaria also said she decided to adapt the name “Hilaria” since that’s what her family calls her. This adaptation of aspects of another culture that she chooses illustrates her white privilege, a reality many immigrants of color don’t have instead being forced to acclimate and even erase aspects of their cultural identity. Hilaria was mainly known as Alec Baldwin’s wife but now she’s achieved a new level of fame (infamy to be precise) as the white girl who allegedly pretended to be from Spain.