Hilaria Baldwin Claims People Have Been 'Misrepresenting' Her amid Appropriation Controversy
In an interview with The New York Times, Hilaria Baldwin says Spanish culture has "been a part of my whole life"
Hilaria Baldwin is continuing to speak out in the wake of allegations that she has been pretending to be Spanish.
In a new interview with The New York Times, published Wednesday, the fitness instructor and mother of five — who was born and raised in Boston and whose birth name is Hillary — insisted "there is not something I'm doing wrong" and claimed those accusing her of cultural appropriation "have been confused in some ways by people misrepresenting me."
Hilaria, 36, claimed to the Times that she never read the multiple Hola! stories about her that identified her as Spanish, including when she posed for covers, and found it "disappointing" her biography on the website of her agency, the Creative Artists Agency, said she was born in Mallorca, Spain (where her parents now reside) until it was changed this week.
According to the Mom Brain podcast host, "home" is where her parents are, regardless of where that might be. Her parents moved to Spain in 2011. "If my parents move to China, I am going to go to China and say, 'I'm going home,' " she said.
Hilaria explained that her "deep bonds" with Spain have been passed to her from her dad, David L. Thomas Jr., who "would go [to Spain] when he was younger."
"It was something my father introduced to my mother when they met, when they were pretty young," she said.
As for her own time in Spain, the yoga guru declined to say exactly how often she visited or stayed in the country but did explain to Times that she went at least annually starting when she was a baby and spent time in cities like Seville, Valencia and Madrid.
"I think it would be maddening to do such a tight timeline 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."
"Who is to say what you're allowed to absorb and not absorb growing up?" she continued, adding of her family's connection to Spain, "This has been a part of my whole life, and I can't make it go away just because some people don't understand it."
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Hilaria has frequently done media appearances using a Spanish accent while speaking, including one on Today where she seemingly struggled to remember the English word "cucumber."
She told the Times that the Today moment was a "brain fart." As for her accent, Hilaria said that how much it comes out depends on her emotions at the time.
And according to Hilaria, she was honest with her husband Alec Baldwin about her geographical roots from the moment they met.
"He said, 'Where are you from?' And I said, 'I'm from Boston.' That was the first thing I said; that has always been my narrative," she said. (The Times points out that Alec, 62, once told David Letterman that Hilaria is from Spain.)
RELATED VIDEO: Hilaria Baldwin, Husband Alec Respond to Allegations That She's "Pretending" to Be Spanish
Last week, Hilaria began trending on Twitter as social media users — including journalist Tracie Morrissey and Twitter user @lenibriscoe — dug into her past, alleging that she fabricated Spanish roots after having been born and raised in Boston. Additionally, Morrissey and @lenibriscoee claimed to have evidence that the accent she often uses is not real.
The Living Clearly Method author soon addressed the speculation about her background in two videos posted on Sunday.
"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 along with a seven-minute video on Sunday. "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 U.S.A."
Hilaria confirming that she was born in Boston comes in contrast to when she previously said she moved to the U.S. from Spain at age 19 to attend New York University during an April appearance on the #MomTruths podcast.
Also speaking with the Times, Hilaria's former competitive-dance partner, Alexander Rechits, said, "The whole 'Hilaria' thing is hilarious to me." (Rechits said he knew her as Hillary Hayward-Thomas when they danced together from 2006 to 2009.)
"I understand why she did it," said Rechits. "It was always her desire to be considered Spanish. She had roots in Spain, her brother lived there, she visited there a lot. But Hillary is a very good strong name, so why would you change that when you were born here and you weren't born in Spain?"
Alec defended his wife on Instagram this week, responding to one user who questioned Hilaria's background in a comment on a post he made sharing a Mark Twain quote, "She was born in Boston but grew up in Spain. You got it?"
Hilaria and Alec, who married in 2012, share five children, all with "Spanish-influenced names," she told the Times. "Their names are after people who were important to me — they're not names that we pulled out of a hat. All my kids' given names, the first names, are all from people in my life, and they have my husband's last name. And we were very thoughtful about it. Especially the second name; sometimes the first name is something that sounds for me, good in both languages."
Hilaria insists her "intentions" today are not negative: "I'm living my life and my life is created by my parents, my different experiences, my languages, my culture."