Hilaria Baldwin Explains Cucumber Moment and Her Connection to Spain Amid Heritage Scandal

Hilaria Baldwin
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

'I think there is a difference between hiding and creating a boundary.' she tells 'The New York Times.'

Hilaria Baldwin is opening up amid public scrutiny. In an interview with The New York Times published on Wednesday, the 36-year-old entrepreneur and wife to Alec Baldwin speaks to her heritage following recent social media claims that she's exaggerated her connection to Spain. 

The controversy began after one Twitter user wrote about Hilaria's "decade long grift where she impersonates a Spanish person." An Instagram user took it from there, sharing posts that called into question the mother of five's ethnic and cultural background, as well as her accent. 

"It’s very surreal. There is not something I’m doing wrong, and I think there is a difference between hiding and creating a boundary," Hilaria tells the Times. "... You are entitled to your privacy. I am entitled to my privacy. People say, 'No, you’re not entitled to your privacy because you married a famous person and you have Instagram.' Well, that’s not really true."

One clip that began making the rounds amid the allegations was an appearance Hilaria made on the Today show in which she appeared to forget the word for cucumber. Baldwin considers the moment a "brain fart," the result of nerves from one of her first TV appearances.

As for her accent, which appears heavy in some clips and nonexistent in others, Hilaria tells the outlet that the strength of her accent varies based on how happy or upset she is at any given moment.

Hilaria, who was born Hillary Hayward-Thomas in Boston, Massachusetts, also addresses the public belief that she was born in Spain. 

She says ¡Hola! magazine's repeated reports that she was born in Spain were incorrect, and claims that she didn't correct the outlet because she doesn't read articles about herself. As for her Creative Artists Agency bio that likewise stated she was Spanish born, Hilaria chocks that up to the company using unverified information, something she calls "very disappointing."

While Hilaria was not born in Spain, her family does live there now. Her brother, Jeremy, lives in Mallorca, a Spanish island in the Mediterranean, the same place her parents, David L. Thomas Jr. and Dr. Kathryn Hayward, moved in 2011.

The country, Hilaria says, was a big part of her life growing up, just as it had been for her dad. She first visited Spain as a baby, and had frequent travels to Madrid, Seville and Valencia, throughout her childhood.

"Who is to say what you’re allowed to absorb and not absorb growing up?" she says. "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."

"... Sometimes there was school involved. Sometimes it was vacation," she adds of her trips to Spain. "It was such a mix, mishmash, is that the right word? Like a mix of different things."

The Spanish influence is something she's brought into her children's lives, by sending them to a bilingual school and speaking Spanish at home. The Baldwins are parents to five kids, Carmen, 7, Rafael, 5, Leonardo, 4, Romeo, 2, and Eduardo, 3 months.

"My kids do have very Spanish-influenced names. You want to know what? Their names are after people who were important to me, they’re not names that we pulled out of a hat," she says. "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."

All the secrecy around her upbringing was purposeful, Hilaria says, an effort to keep her parents away from the spotlight.

"Where does something stop being your story and start being someone else’s?" she asks. "... The things I have shared about myself are very clear. I was born in Boston. I spent time in Boston and in Spain. My family now lives in Spain. I moved to New York when I was 19 years old and I have lived here ever since. For me, I feel like I have spent 10 years sharing that story over and over again. And now it seems like it’s not enough."

While Hilaria says the present conversation is an "important" one, she is eager for people to accept who she is.

"I want to talk about the things I am passionate about. My intention is not to be an American TV personality. My intention is not to be a Spanish TV personality. My intention is to talk about health and fitness and being a mom," she says. "... There is a reason this conversation is happening right now. These are important conversations to have. But as people are able to come out as different parts of themselves and how they identify and have people listen, I think that’s extremely important."