If you’ve gone your whole life without knowing who Hilaria Baldwin is, you’re no doubt wondering why the yoga aficionado and wife of actor Alec Baldwin has been popping up all over your social media feeds these past few days.
Perhaps you’re wondering why comedian Amy Schumer is involved and why people are making jokes about how to pronounce the word “cucumber”?
Hilaria, 36, (born Hilary Hayward-Thomas) stands accused on social media of using a Spanish accent when she isn’t Spanish, perpetuating the story that she was born in Mallorca, Spain, when she wasn’t, and asking on US TV: “How do you say in English, cucumber?” when she was born and raised in Boston.
It was Twitter user lenibriscoe's tweet – "You have to admire Hilaria Baldwin's commitment to her decade-long grift where she impersonates a Spanish person" – which went viral and caused evidence to pile up which appeared to show that Hilaria had, in the past, used a Spanish accent when appearing on television, even though she is US-born and raised.
Having taken to Instagram to defend herself, with husband Alec also posting a video in which he repeatedly insisted "consider the source", the mother-of-five has been accused of “cultural cosplay” appropriation.
“My thing is about being authentic,” she declares in an Instagram video, “and if people say I’m not being authentic, that hurts my feelings.”
Read on for a breakdown of this furore ...
Who is Hilaria Baldwin?
Hilaria is a podcaster, author and yoga instructor, known for sharing images of her various yoga poses on Instagram, as well as photos of her children. She is also the wife of 30 Rock actor Alec who, until recently, played Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live. The pair were married in June 2012 and have five children: Carmen, 7, Rafael, 5, Leonardo, 4, Romeo, 2, and three-month-old Eduardo.
Why is Amy Schumer involved in the Hilaria Baldwin controversy?
The Trainwreck actress inadvertently kicked the whole controversy off after she reposted an Instagram photo from Hilaria's account in which the yoga teacher posed in her underwear with baby Eduardo alongside a caption about baby moisturiser. Schumer added her own caption, which read: "Gene and I wanted to wish everyone a happy holiday season."
The comments section went wild with some finding Schumer’s post funny, while others accused her of body shaming, leading her to remove the post.
What’s with Hilaria’s accent?
What happened next really fanned the internet flames, as Hilaria posted a four-minute-long video on Instagram in which she insisted: “I love jokes, I love people making fun of me … But my only concern with it is that it seemed to spiral out of control … where we’re getting into a place of body shaming.”
However, it wasn’t what she said that caught social media’s attention, but rather the accent in which she said it: an American accent which was markedly different to the one she uses in the video above.
Where was Hilaria Baldwin born?
In her response video, Hilaria declares: "I was born in Boston, which was the first thing I told my husband, and yeah I’m a different kind of Bostonian."
However, the biography for her talent agency, CAA Speakers, states: “Baldwin was born in Mallorca, Spain and raised in Boston, Massachusetts”, and her IMDb biography reads: “Hilaria Baldwin was born on January 6, 1984 in Mallorca, Spain as Hilaria Lynn Thomas.”
Both biographies have since been updated; CAA Speakers no longer discloses her place of birth and IMDb reads: "Hilaria Baldwin was born on January 6, 1984 in Boston, Massachusetts, US, as Hilaria Lynn Thomas."
Did Hilaria Baldwin ever claim to be Spanish?
Here’s where it gets tricky. Instagram user Sophie Ross (@Soph_ross) created an Instagram Story in which she compiled all the instances in which Hilaria appeared to use a Spanish accent on camera, along with interviews and biographies which stated Hilaria was born in Mallorca, where her family has a holiday home, to which her American parents have retired.
Ross has saved all of the highlights from her investigation here:
Ross also found old interviews Hilaria had done with Hola! magazine, which reported: "Hilaria, who was born in Spain, has made certain to raise her children with her native language, Spanish." And, "Hilaria reveals that teaching her daughter her native language is crucial."
Furthermore, in the MomTruths podcast, when asked by hosts Cat and Nat: "So you moved here with your parents?" Baldwin was ambiguous, replying: "I moved here when [I] was 19 to go to NYU ... From, my family lives in Spain, they live in Mallorca."
What has a cucumber got to do with all this?
During a cooking segment on the Today show in which Hilaria explained the ingredients she was using, she told the host: "We have very few ingredients, we have tomatoes, we have, how do you say in English, cucumber?" Leading her to be accused of pretending to not know the word "cucumber", when she is a fourth-generation, English-speaking American.
What does Hilaria have to say about it all?
Hilaria has responded with two separate videos on Instagram, but has been accused of not directly answering any questions.
“I have in the past tried to be clear, but people don’t always report and write what you say,” she began, in what’s being seen as an accusation against journalists.
A stance she later clarified, saying: “In the past I would get very frustrated that reporters would report this or report that and I’d try to be very clear. And they’d go: ‘Oh so you were born in Spain,’ and I’d go: ‘OK, let me give you a spoiler alert, you’re the only one who knows.’ And we’d be laughing anytime I would say it."
Is Hilaria Spanish or American?
“I was born in Boston and I spent some of my childhood in Boston, some of my childhood in Spain, my family, my brother my parents my nephew, everybody is over there in Spain,” she has since said on Instagram, by way of explaining her sporadic Spanish accent.
“So that was one thing I think people asked sometimes about how I speak. I am that person that if I’ve been speaking a lot of Spanish I tend to mix them and if I’m speaking English then I mix that.
"If I get nervous or upset or something then I start to mix the two. And again this is something I’ve always been a little bit insecure about, but I’ve decided maybe 2021 we will get over that and I’m definitely addressing it very openly right now.”
What does Alec Baldwin say about his wife?
The actor took to Instagram to go on a long diatribe against social media, #pizzagate, Jeffrey Epstein, TMZ, the New York Post and Facebook.
“You have to consider the source," he said. "We live in a world now where we’re hidden behind the anonymity of social media, people feel they can say anything, they probably would like to do anything if they weren’t at risk of being caught and going to prison.
"The only thing I can do is talk to that half of the public, that portion of the public that understands me when I say consider the source, consider the source. When you love somebody you want to defend them … Consider the source.”
Ireland Baldwin calls accusers 'sad and pathetic'
Hilaria’s step-daughter, Ireland, Alec’s daughter with his ex-wife Kim Basinger, rushed to her stepmother’s defence, saying in an Instagram Story: “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, how they were raised, who they were actually raised by. It's just kind of sad and pathetic.”
A final word from Hilaria…
“You can’t change your background, nor would I want to. I’m really proud of who I am, and all of my different experiences.
"So, for all of those of you who are confused about where I’m from and why I speak two languages, I grew up speaking two languages and my family lives in Spain.”
Now is that very, very clear?