Let’s be honest, the whole drama surrounding Hilaria Baldwin and her questionable heritage is one of the messiest and confusing celebrity scandals to come out in a while. Everyone seemed to have an opinion and Salma Hayek is just the latest star to weigh in.
“All of my friends asked me, ‘Did you hear about this? Oh my God, she lied,’ ” she shared with host Andy Cohen. “We all lie a little bit.”
The flawless 54-year-old knows Baldwin personally as she appeared alongside the mom-of-five’s husband Alec on the NBC comedy 30 Rock in 2009. The yoga-enthusiast married the Emmy winner in 2012 and they share five children: sons Eduardo “Edu” Pao Lucas, 4 months, Romeo Alejandro David, 2½, Leonardo Ángel Charles, 4, and Rafael Thomas, 5½, plus 7-year-old daughter Carmen Gabriela.
“She makes my friend happy,” she said justifying her defense. “She fooled me because she’s such a good mother. You know, I don’t care. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to betray or hurt anybody’s feelings, and I don’t know if it’s right or if it’s wrong. I’m not going to judge somebody just because of that one thing.”
Instead of being offended that the 37-year-old reportedly rebranded herself from Hillary from Boston as Hilaria from Spain and faked an accent, the actress added that she feels “honored” somebody would want their “alter ego to be something that is similar” to her roots.
“It makes me feel proud that people are inspired,” Hayek said. “I am Mexican-Lebanese, but my grandparents — my ancestors on my mother’s side — are Spanish. I think she’s smart to want to be Spanish. We’re cool, you know?”
“She’s very kind to me, and that’s all I care about,” she continued. “Spanish people are cool, I don’t blame her for choosing that.”
Back in December, when a Twitter user posted the bombshell: “You have to admire Hilaria Baldwin’s commitment to her decade long grift where she impersonates a Spanish person,” and included the Today show video in which Baldwin seemingly forgot the English word for “cucumber.”
The Twitter thread went viral and prompted a number of news articles and accusations of cultural appropriation. A post in The Cut provided clips of Baldwin speaking with both American and Spanish accents, noting “There are a few discrepancies in Hilaria Baldwin’s bio,” and brought attention to her CAA Speaker site which listed her birthplace as Mallorca, Spain.
The fitness instructor had previously said that she moved to the U.S. when she was 19 to attend college. The Daily Mail obtained a yearbook photo from Cambridge School of Weston in Massachusetts, which showed Baldwin’s name as Hillary Hayward-Thomas and with much paler skin and blonde hair.
“I went to high school with her. Genuinely lovely person, I recall, but fully a white girl from Cambridge,” a former classmate recalled.
“I went to high school with her. She was perfectly nice and serious about ballroom dancing. Her name was indeed Hillary Hayward-Thomas and she did not have her current accent,” another wrote.
Other articles mention that Baldwin is often misidentified as either Mallorcan, Spanish, or Latina, encouraging positive press by Hispanic media. For example, she appeared twice on the cover of ¡Hola! and is often mentioned in other issues. Popular writer, Claire Lampen, also posted that Baldwin’s accent was “conspicuously American, which – as certain internet detectives have since noted – marks a change from the Spanish accent she has adopted in past interviews.”
“Looking through Hilaria’s tweets, it does seem like she’s gone to great lengths to never explicitly say that she’s Spanish – but she has gotten pretty close,” noted Buzzfeed writer, Natasha Jokic.
An article from The Things mentioned that even Baldwin’s own cousin stated that her visits to Spain were for vacations only and that she’s “zero percent Spanish.”
Baldwin responded, via Instagram saying she identifies as white, and her ethnic background includes “many, many, many things.” She stated she spent “some” of her childhood in Spain and “some” in Massachusetts, but had never been enrolled in school in Spain, only spending time there during family holidays. She stated she was born in Boston. In an April 2020 podcast, she had stated, “I moved here [New York] when I was 19 to go to NYU.” When asked where from, she said, “My family lives in Spain; they live in Mallorca,” and that, “I came for school and I never, ever, ever left.”
Baldwin also noted in a New York Times interview that her inability to remember the word “cucumber” on Today came from stage fright and that her accent comes and goes depending on stress and other factors because she is bilingual.
“It is a bizarre story, but don’t we all create our own character in life?” Hayek concluded. “I mean, this might be extreme, okay, but she’s not a bad person.”
Tile image credit: Thomas Niedermueller / Getty Images