Michael Swartz / Jan. 8, 2021

The Hilarious Case of Hilaria Baldwin

Is Alec Baldwin’s “Spanish” wife a better actor than he is?

We all know that actors and actresses are paid performers, with the best becoming known as much for their roles as their real-life personalities. Think of Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry, for example.

Yet there are those who assume a role of a different sort by taking on an identity they may wish they had. They may do this because they feel their real existence is somehow unsatisfactory, or because they see it as a way to gain something. One good example of the latter is everyone’s favorite 1/1024th American Indian, Elizabeth Warren, who conned her way onto the Harvard faculty by convincing them that she was Native American based on her high cheekbones and family lore.

An even deeper example of invented persona is Rachel Dolezal. You may remember her: Dolezal identified herself as black for most of her adult life — long enough to become a local NAACP head in Washington state — before ultimately being outed by her white parents. Yet to her, race was just “a hierarchical system that was created to leverage power and privilege between different groups of people.” In other words, because she believed she was black, that’s who she was and she did her best to look the part.

Interestingly enough, the subject of this latest “heritage scandal” of adopting a different identity is actually the wife of a well-known actor. But as National Review’s Kevin Williamson explains, Alec Baldwin’s wife Hilaria is “a creature of the shadow world of pseudo-celebrity. In her case, she possesses derivative celebrity thanks to her husband, Alec Baldwin, who is a genuine movie star of the old school. She is a celebrity by marriage, which is something like having a trust fund of celebrity.”

Hilaria was actually born Hillary Hayward-Thomas and belonged to a wealthy Boston family. Not content with that society page identity, however, she adopted Hilaria as her first name. Then, thanks to some Internet sleuthing, after an interview in a Latina magazine she became what Williamson describes as “the social-media hate object du jour, having used a partly invented biography, an entirely invented accent, and perhaps a bit of cosmetic derring-do to pass herself off as a Mallorca-born Spaniard, when she is in fact the Boston-born daughter of a Harvard professor and a Georgetown-educated businessman-lawyer, a family with pre-Revolutionary roots in New England.”

We’re not in a position to know whether there’s a heaping helping of guilt being fueled by the concept of white privilege, but one has to question what was really wrong with Hillary just being herself. And while she didn’t completely create her Hilaria identity out of whole cloth — she claims to have spent part of her childhood in Spain and her parents moved there a decade ago — the tangled web she used to deceive has finally caught up to her, resulting in an embarrassing mea culpa and at least one lost endorsement deal.

Given our cultural propensity for digging up dirt, it’s no surprise someone finally ratted Hilaria out. There’s nothing wrong with trying to raise bilingual children who understand ancestral culture, but after her “decade-long grift,” perhaps it’s time for Hillary Baldwin to leave the acting to her husband and just embrace her blue-blood self.

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