In Spain, She's No Longer 'Hilaria'

Alec Baldwin's 'Spaniard' wife became a beloved cover girl for Vanity Fair España and elsewhere until they, too, discovered she wasn't Mallorcan born but an American from Boston. Adios, los Olés!

EVEN IF YOU DON’T READ SPANISH, you may understand enough to know that the headline in the Vanity Fair España online edition isn’t favorable:

¿HILARIA O HILLARY? SE DESMORONA EL PASADO COMO ESPAÑOLA DE LA MUJER DE ALEC BALDWIN, OBLIGADA A ADMITIR QUE NO NACIÓ EN MALLORCA SINO EN BOSTON

If you think the news in English about Hillary Baldwin’s charade as a Spaniard is embarrassing for her and her Hollywood star husband, it’s much worse in Spanish. And it’s also especially humiliating for the Spanish news media, particularly Vanity Fair España, which has fawned lovingly over her for almost a decade, reporting extensively on her romance and wedding, on her marriage and career, and especially on the births of her five children, all given Spanish names in keeping with her made-up Spanish ancestry.

It’s especially humiliating now that it’s so obvious that Vanity Fair, a kind of wholly owned subsidiary of the world’s celebrity culture, has been not only a media victim but also party to this elaborate con job. Vanity Fair España has been publishing adoring puff piece after adoring puff piece about a fictitious Spaniard who exists only in Hillary Baldwin’s mind. Now they are so incensed at the magazine that they no longer call her Hilaria but Hillary, her American name, and they refer to her, in a surprising streak of meanness, as “LA MUJER DE ALEC BALDWIN.” Not as the famous movie star’s esposa — his wife — but as Alec Baldwin’s “woman.” This may sound harsher than anything she’s been called in America for good reason. It is. She now, for the moment, may be the country’s most digraced public figure, second only to once venerated King Juan Carlos I who announced last summer that he was leaving Spain because of increased media press about his business dealings in Saudi Arabia.

The translation of the Vanity Fair España headline told the story of Hillary Baldwin’s own reckoning with her past:

HILARIA OR HILLARY? ALEC BALDWIN'S WOMAN'S PAST AS SPANISH FORCED HER TO ADMIT THAT SHE WAS NOT BORN IN MALLORCA BUT IN BOSTON

The Vanity Fair España story’s subheading ends with perhaps an even more damning conclusion:

“But how much truth is there in the rest of her biography of the “Spanish woman"?

Once apparently her vacation home during her childhood, Spain may now give ¿HILARIA O HILLARY? a new appreciation for her real homeland.

The following is a translation of the story, which can be accessed in the original Spanish here.

BY JAVI SÁNCHEZ

The strangest controversy of the last hours has a name or, rather, two. The first is the one that Hilaria Baldwin, or Hilaria Thomas or Hilaria Hayward-Thomas, depending on the year, has given herself. That Hilaria is Mallorcan by birth, has a mother of Spanish descent and lived in Spain until she was 19 years old. Already in New York, the yoga teacher taught sevillanas to her husband for eight years, Alec Baldwin, who was also discovered by the Nenuco neighborhood, and carries an — intermittent and strange — Spanish accent with which he also educates his five children in our language. But there was always something that squeaked: even in 2014, in an interview for the Spanish edition of Vanity Fair, that Hilaria "refused to give or confirm any biographical data, beyond anecdotes chosen with care."

Partly because the real one is the other one: Hillary Hayward-Thomas, the daughter of two upper-class Anglo-Saxon professionals, is from Boston, with an ancestry so distant from Spain that it takes more than a century to find non-Bostonian blood in their supposed Spanish lineage. Hillary went to one of the most exclusive schools in Massachusetts (the Cambridge School of Weston, where tuition starts at 40,000 euros per year), spent her childhood and her training between Massachusetts and the Balearic Islands, speaks the native English that sometimes "forgets" -or in the one that she confessed to us seven years ago that it was difficult for her to pronounce Baldwin - and that her parents did not move permanently to Mallorca until a year before Hillary and Alec met.

Hillary has gone to Instagram to confess, after her supposed origin faltered on social networks. Part of the fault is her speaker agency profile, there it is still stated that “se was born in Mallorca, Spain, and raised in Boston, Massachusetts". Exactly the opposite of what Baldwin's wife defended a few hours ago in a video of almost eight minutes, where she acknowledges that her name is Hillary, who was born in Boston but grew up in our country (despite the fact that there is multiple evidence of her school education and childhood in Weston, an idyllic town in the Boston metropolitan area, where the average income is around 700,000 euros per year) and recognizes that she is "a white girl" (in the United States, Spaniards are also considered Hispanic for ethnic).

Several of her former classmates recall that that shedid not have the exaggerated accent that she has used in some public interviews, and the genealogical tree of her family also casts doubt on another of the statements in the video, where Hillary states that "ethnically, I am a mixture of many many many many things. " Something a bit complicated because, to summarize, neither Hillary Hayward-Thomas nor her parents have had a direct relative who was not descended from the white Anglo-Saxons who make up the dominant majority in the United States. Something that also makes his statement that "it is clear that in Europe there are many white people and that my family is white" also a bit shameful.

Also, her last name is revealing: when she was Hilaria Thomas, Hillary was hiding the last name of her mother, Dr. Kathryn Hayward, her supposed "Spanish" mother. Hayward worked no less than 38 years as an internist in Massachusetts (two more than Hillary’s age now), was a professor at Harvard, and generally has a biography that makes it difficult for Hillary to spend more than a few months with her family in Spain per year, maximum. There is another reason to hide that surname: by declaring herself Spanish, or letting the headlines call her that, she was playing with a small legal element: even if she had been born in Mallorca, Hillary would never have been Spanish with those parents. Our country requires that one of the parents be Spanish to grant nationality by birth to the children of foreigners under normal circumstances.

The one who really had more to do with Spanish culture was his father, David L. Thomas. His professional degree may have been in Law from Georgetown University (in the US federal capital) but he has a second degree (in Haverford, Pennsylvania): Spanish Language and Literature. Thomas was passionate about Spain who, at some point in his 37-year professional career in Boston (and a few more in Washington and other states on the East Coast) as a lawyer and consultant on real estate and business issues, decided to buy a holiday home in Mallorca.

It was on vacation when the family starred in the "comings and goings" that Hillary wielded in her defense to identify herself as Spanish, which is more or less as if Gwyneth Paltrow would defend tomorrow having grown up in Talavera de la Reina beyond her summers as an exchange student , or directly identified as Talaverana.

Hillary had stretched the depth of her identity too much in this past decade: she had created a public persona who did not know American pop culture because she had learned to dance Sevillanas in Seville (tra, tra); She called herself Hilaria with a terrible accent, but a non-Spanish pronunciation (Jilaria); She forgot words in her native language, despite the fact that she was taught in a private school with six students per teacher and, in short, she tried too hard to be a more exotic person than she was.

That her cultural appropriation, so to speak, has now exploded as controversial is simply because the world his paying more attention to history. Since at least 2017, on forums and subreddits, several alleged ex-classmates of Hillary Hayward-Thomas have been marveling at the transformation of their childhood friend, with an exquisite New England accent, in becoming a Balearic girl.

Two hours after his wife's attempt at a confession, Alec Baldwin has also addressed the public, in a video in which he speaks of the "falsehoods and slander" allegedly directed against his wife. And in which he encourages viewers to disregard the information that denies Hillary's Spanish identity because it comes from U.S. networks and tabloids. Meanwhile, the professional profile of his wife continues to affirm that she was born in Mallorca.

Tony Castro is the author of seven books, whose newest — MARIS & MANTLE: Two Yankees, Immortality and the Age of Camelot — will be published in 2021.
Email Tony Castro at tony@columnist.com