Can You Fake an Accent for Ten Years? Hilaria Baldwin Might Know

Alec and Hilaria Baldwin

As someone was born in Australia to British immigrants and spent twelve years living in the United States and the accent that came with it, I was intrigued by the unfolding drama surrounding Hilaria Baldwin over Christmas.

To recap, many people came out of the woodwork to say Baldwin’s Spanish heritage and accent were all a ruse and that she’s really just Hilary Hayward-Thomas: a white girl from Boston who fabricated an exotic heritage for reasons unknown. 

On December 22, Twitter user @lenibriscoe tweeted, “You have to admire Hilaria Baldwin’s commitment to her decade long grift where she impersonates a Spanish person.”

Social media was promptly flooded with receipts from people who said they had attended school with Baldwin and could confirm that the accent was indeed the vocal equivalent of a counterfeit Chanel purse and that the yoga teachers’ insistence she had been born in Mallorca, Spain was also fake news.

One enterprising Twitter user even unearthed an old video in which Baldwin allegedly pretended to forget the English word for “cucumber” during a cooking segment. Incidentally, the Spanish word for the gin and tonic garnish is “pepino” which is so cute I am contemplating adding it to my already confounding cadence. 

The idea that Baldwin had been faking both an accent and an ancestry was amusing to some, and deeply troubling to others — particularly in the Latinx community who pointed out that if the mother-of-five was indeed lying, she had taken up valuable space in media that could otherwise have been occupied by people who actually make up the underrepresented heritage. 


Journalist Aura Bogado shared her thoughts on the matter tweeting, “The fact that @hilariabaldwin pretended to be from Spain with that ridiculous accent, while some of us have been denied opportunities for our actual accents, is disgusting. The fact that she pretended to be an immigrant, at a time of hatred, detention, and deportation, is sick.”

Baldwin, who is the second wife of Emmy-winner Alec, decided to address the matter and uploaded a video to her Instagram account in an attempt to explain the controversy. 

“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 USA,” she explained in the video’s caption.

“We celebrate both cultures in our home – Alec and I are raising our children bilingual, just as I was raised.”

Baldwin chalked up the vacillation  between her accents to being bilingual and, on occasion, nervous.

“I am that person who if I have been speaking a lot of Spanish then I tend to mix them and if I’ve been speaking a lot of English then I mix up my Spanish,” she said.

“It’s one of those things that I’ve always been a bit insecure about. When I get nervous or upset then I tend to mix the two.”

She also acknowledged why so many people found her alleged behaviour to be problematic saying, “Yes, I am a white girl, I am a white girl. And let’s be very clear that Europe, you know, has a lot of white people in them, in there. And my family is white. Ethnically, I’m a mix of many, many, many things. Culturally, I grew up with the two cultures. The reason why I wanted to take it so seriously is because cultural conversations are a thing we’re having more and more.”

Ultimately, Baldwin refused to apologise for the cultural appropriation of which she had been accused saying, “Leave me alone. I’m not doing anything wrong by being me. And maybe that doesn’t look like somebody you’ve met before. But isn’t that the beauty of diversity?”

She continued, “I’m not going to apologise for the amount of time that I’ve spent in two countries, and I’m not going to apologise for the fact that I speak two languages. And I’m not going to apologise for the fact that I have two versions of my name, which is the same name.” 

I can certainly understand one of the points Baldwin made in her confessional/non-apology. Having spent years adapting my vocabulary to the Americanised versions of words — mainly for efficiency reasons because I loathed having to repeat myself when people didn’t understand my Aussie-isms — I now find myself having to work extra hard to switch back to Australian spellings, the metric system and even how to write the date (in America it goes month/day/year.) 

While I am painfully aware that my flip-flopping between the two versions of English can be frustrating for some people (like my lovely editors), it is influenced by several variables and is not deliberate. It is also not harming or marginalising anyone as it would be if Baldwin’s Latinx identity were assumed, perhaps because she simply wasn’t satisfied by the endless privilege being a white woman from Boston affords. 

Regardless of the truth, or Baldwin’s motives, it does seem as though she is a little confused about her origins and how nationality works, so here’s hoping Santa left a kit from Ancestry.com.au in her Christmas stocking. 

Read more stories from The Latch and follow us on Facebook.