Hilaria Baldwin's Former Dance Partner Says It Was 'Always Her Desire' to be Considered Spanish
By Paige Gawley
JP Yim/Getty Images for Carbon38
Hilaria Baldwin's former dance partner is speaking out amid her ongoing heritage scandal. In Baldwin's recent New York Timesinterview, Alexander Rechits, who danced competitively with the mom of five from 2006 to 2009, explains why her post-2009 name change from Hillary Hayward-Thomas to Hilaria is "hilarious" to him.
Boston-born Baldwin's name change, as well as questions about whether she exaggerated her Spanish accent and her connection to Spain, were recently raised by social media users.
"The whole 'Hilaria' thing is hilarious to me. I understand why she did it," Rechits says, noting that he knew Baldwin to be kind, caring and talented.
"It was always her desire to be considered Spanish. She had roots in Spain, her brother lived there, she visited there a lot," he explains. "But Hillary is a very good strong name, so why would you change that when you were born here and you weren’t born in Spain?"
"I have a lot of nicknames in Russian," Rechits, who immigrated to New York from Belarus, adds. "But I’m still Alexander everywhere I go."
Meanwhile, in regard to her name change, Baldwin notes that her family referred to her as Hilaria for most of her life. As for the specific reason for the change, Baldwin, who calls the controversy "surreal," points to her desire for 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," she says. "... There is not something I’m doing wrong, and I think there is a difference between hiding and creating a boundary."
In a video posted to Instagram, Baldwin expanded on the reason behind her name change.
"When I was growing up, in this country, I would use the name Hillary, and in Spain I would use the name Hilaria… my whole family called me Hilaria. It always bothered me that neither name sounded good in the other language," she said. "A handful of years before I met [her husband] Alec [Baldwin], I decided to consolidate the two, because it was so many different documents with so many different things."