The Hilaria Baldwin Accent Controversy, Explained

Eufemia Didonato

Hilaria Baldwin has found herself in the middle of a somewhat bizarre controversy in the final days of December 2020. As a Twitter user once noted, “Each day on Twitter there is one main character. The goal is to never be it.” The yoga instructor and wife of actor Alec […]

Hilaria Baldwin has found herself in the middle of a somewhat bizarre controversy in the final days of December 2020.

As a Twitter user once noted, “Each day on Twitter there is one main character. The goal is to never be it.” The yoga instructor and wife of actor Alec Baldwin knows this first hand. However, the reason Hilaria went viral had nothing to do with her fitness posts or quasi-feud with Amy Schumer. Instead, the public began to dig into Hilaria’s background and supposed Spanish heritage after a Twitter thread suggested she’d been faking an accent for “decades.”

Here’s how one women’s accent became a major news story…

It started with a receipt-filled Twitter thread.

On December 21, Twitter user @lenibriscoe tweeted out the thread that started it all. “You have to admire Hilaria Baldwin’s commitment to her decade long grift where she impersonates a Spanish person,” she began.

In a series of replies, the user lays out a compelling case, including videos, articles, and documents that cumulatively show Hilaria, whose birth name is Hillary Hayward-Thomas, speaking with an off-and-on Spanish accent.

The thread also included responses from people who claimed to have known Ms. Baldwin while growing up, but most of what was posted either came from Hilaria herself speaking in videos or from third-party articles written about her or her family.

Though Hilaria had described herself as moving to the U.S. at nineteen to go to NYU in one podcast, CNN notes that her talent management bio claims she was born in Mallorca, Spain.

Her mother, Dr. Kathryn Hayward, attended medical school in Boston before working as an internist at Massachusetts General Hospital and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, according to Page Six. Dr. Hayward and her husband, David Thomas, reportedly didn’t move to Spain to retire until 2011, when Hilaria would have been 27-years old.

Over the next few days, finding information on Hilaria became something of an online treasure hunt. The conversation was less about Hilaria’s heritage—though that was a part of it—and more about the fun of catching a celebrity in a lie. Lots of people exaggerate online, but most don’t pretend not to know the English word for “cucumber,” as Hilaria did on one cooking show.

As major outlets started reporting on the story, the “scandal” became the Internet’s weekend distraction.

Then Hilaria (Hillary?) responded.

In fact, on Sunday, December 27, three Baldwins took to Instagram to address the story. In a seven and a half minute video, Hilaria confirmed that she was born in Boston, but raised in both the U.S. and Spain. She says that her family lives in Spain and that her accent comes from speaking both English and Spanish growing up.

“I am that person that if I’ve been speaking a lot of Spanish, I tend to mix them, and if I’m speaking a lot of English, then I mix that,” Hilaria said of her accent. “When I try to work, I try to annunciate a little more, but if I get nervous or upset or something, then I start to mix the two.”

She continued, “I try to speak more clearly in each language…but sometimes I mess it up, and it’s not something that I’m playing at, so I want that to be very, very, very clear.”

In a second response, Hilaria insisted that she spent much of her life in Spain. “I was moving around a lot, but I came here when I was 19 years old to go to college,” she said.

Other members of Hilaria’s family have weighed in.

Her husband Alec’s eight and a half minute video touched on a number of topics, like the utility of social media and Jeffrey Epstein. “There’s things that have been said lately about people I love, people I care about, which are ridiculous. Consider the source,” he said, seemingly in reference to Twitter, though the “sources” quoted online include Hilaria’s own statements.

Ireland Basinger Baldwin, Alec’s adult daughter with his ex-wife Kim Basinger, addressed the drama on Instagram Stories, telling the camera, “I just wanted to say a couple of things, if you’ll allow me.”

The 25-year-old model asked the public to “stop sending” her “this stupid-ass thread” about her stepmother. “It’s so pathetic that anyone would want to play detective and dig that deep into someone’s life that they don’t know, don’t know anything about,” she continued, adding that the holidays this year have been hard for many people, herself included. “The last thing we really need to do is start shit and gossip about something that is just so, so stupid.”

<h1 class="title">ireland basinger baldwin</h1><cite class="credit">Instagram:@irelandbasingerbaldwin</cite>

She noted that even in the “dug up” tweets from Hilaria’s old schoolmates, everyone remembers her as “really kind,” and says “that’s because she is very kind. She’s a good person.”

Twitter, of course, had thoughts on these responses.

A number of comedians recorded their own version of Hilaria’s response, while Alec’s monologue got clipped into one-sentence sound bites to make memes from.

Hilaria Baldwin, meanwhile, is back to posting about her family, and Twitter will probably have a new main character in a few days.

This post will continue to be updated if more information comes to light.

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Originally Appeared on Glamour

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