Hilaria Baldwin’s former dance partner has weighed in on the controversy about her alleged Spanish heritage, saying in an interview that the woman he knew as Hillary Hayward-Thomas “always” had a “desire to be considered Spanish.”
Alexander Rechits, who danced alongside the 36-year-old from 2006 to 2009, told The New York Times that the ”‘Hilaria’ thing is hilarious to me,” in a piece published Wednesday.
He told the Times that after they stopped dancing together, Hillary Hayward-Thomas took on the Spanish-inspired version of her first name.
“I understand why she did it. It was always her desire to be considered Spanish. She had roots in Spain, her brother lived there, she visited there a lot. 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?” said Rechits, an immigrant from Belarus, who added: “I have a lot of nicknames in Russian, but I’m still Alexander everywhere I go.”
The wife of actor Alec Baldwin has been the subject of heated internet chatter for the last week after a viral Twitter thread called her out for a “decade long grift.” The apparent grift is that Hilaria Baldwin has been claiming she is Spanish, when she was actually born in Boston, Massachusetts. Both her parents apparently have deep genealogical lines in the U.S.
In response to the internet conversation, both Baldwins have defended her characterization of her heritage. In a video on Instagram over the weekend, Hilaria Baldwin said that she 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. We celebrate both cultures in our home ― Alec and I are raising our children bilingual, just as I was raised. This is very important to me,” she said. “I understand that my story is a little different, but it is mine, and I’m very proud of it.”
Alec Baldwin later logged on and posted his own video on the platform, telling fans: “When you love somebody, you wanna defend them. Consider the source.”
In the Times piece published Wednesday, Hilaria Baldwin offered another response to this weird saga.
In the interview, she called the controversy “very surreal” and insisted that “there is not something I’m doing wrong, and I think there is a difference between hiding and creating a boundary.”
She reiterated her Boston and Spain connections and said, “I feel like I have spent 10 years sharing that story over and over again. And now it seems like it’s not enough.”
“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,” Hilaria Baldwin told the Times.
In another part of the interview, she defended her claims of “going home” when she travels to Spain.
“Home is where my parents are going to be,” she said. “If my parents move to China, I am going to go to China and say, ‘I’m going home.’”
The Times added that “though she has said her family has roots in Spain, she said she was speaking colloquially.”
“These people who I call my family, I am learning in this particular situation, I have to say, ‘People who we have considered to be our family,’” Hilaria Baldwin said.