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Baby, It’s You
Mariska Hargitay | Photo: Carlos Ruiz | October 24, 2013
When beloved actor and inveterate Hamptonite Alec Baldwin chatted up a pretty dancer/yoga instructor at an outside cafe one crazy-warm winter night, who knew they’d be hitched, happy and hugging a brand-new baby girl less than three years later? Now Hilaria Baldwin, who recently released a pregnancy-yoga DVD, tells galpal Mariska Hargitay how she ended up with that “30 Rock” on her hand.
Mariska Hargitay: You’re doing so much right now, with your new baby, Carmen Gabriela, and the new DVD. Is it getting easier every day?
Hilaria Baldwin: Yes—I mean, I don’t know! The hardest part is the lack of sleep, but I don’t mind it.
I have to say, every time I see you, you have this beautiful, calming, warming energy. You strike me as such a natural, like you were born for motherhood.
You’re sweet! I have to say, it takes two to tango, and she’s a good partner.
There you go… So, first, tell me about your own childhood.
I was actually born in Boston, then we moved to Spain when I was pretty young. We traveled back and forth and, in the end, we came back. I’m very happy I had the privilege of learning both Spanish and English.
What made you come to New York City?
I came to go to NYU. I took a year off between high school and college to work, not only to be able to have experiences, but to save up for school. I was a dancer at that point, and I moved here with my dance partner. I went to NYU full time and danced full time, and taught and competed. You do what you have to in New York—you just go, go, go or you never make it. But it was a wonderful experience, and I loved NYU.
How did you get into yoga?
Well, although the dance world is wonderful and you get to wear incredible costumes, it’s so much about the external. I was trying to find something a bit healthier. I was very, very thin and always focused on outward appearance—how other people perceived me, especially in Latin ballroom dancing, which is what I did.
Then I stumbled on a yoga class, and afterward the instructor said, ‘I want to “apprentice you” to be a yoga teacher.’ I thought, ‘OK, I’ll add this to my work. I already teach dance, how different can it be?’ So I started with him, and taught very soon after that—which doesn’t mean my classes were very good, they just really needed a teacher. I actually apologized to all the students in my first classes!
I bet you weren’t terrible at all. You’re like a little Zen Buddha, peaceful and strong at the same time.
Well, I learned that. I was a very high-strung dancer, and through teaching yoga I learned to calm down more; I learned a lot of deep life lessons. I think there was a part of me that was a calm and peaceful person, I just didn’t know how to channel it until I started down that path. I needed to find something else for my body, and something where people treated each other well. The competitive-dance world is, well, competitive, and you’re constantly on your toes—no pun intended.
So, the big question: How did you meet Alec?
I know, the big question, right? [Laughs] We met at a restaurant. I’d opened two yoga studios with one of my students, a friend who’d worked on Wall Street and lost his job in the crash. We opened one on 12th Street and University Place, then a year later we found a second location. Up until then, I was almost never outside. I’d work seven days a week—often from 5am to 11pm—and then I’d just come home and sleep. My students used to joke that I slept in the studio because they’d see me at the last class of the day, then again at the first class the next day!
But the night of Feb. 10, 2011, two of my girlfriends convinced me to go out for a glass of wine, and we found this place that had three tables outside. It was a bizarrely warm night—like, in the 70s. We were the first people there, then a couple sat next to us, then Alec—who I didn’t see—and his friend went over to the third table, which was the farthest from us.
I was talking and laughing—I never really drink, so one glass of wine was making me pretty happy—and ended up talking to the couple next to us. The man was from Argentina, so I was giving him advice or saying something silly in Spanish. Alec’s friend had studied in Spain, and I think he was translating what I was saying, which I’m sure was absolutely ridiculous. I wasn’t in a relationship at the time—I was just trying to find the right one, as everybody in New York is, it seems. So, at one point I said to my girlfriends, ‘All right, Universe. I have an announcement to make: I’m ready to meet somebody and fall in love.’
And one of my girlfriends smacked me and said, ‘Hilaria, shut up! Alec Baldwin is looking at you!’ And I leaned over the table and there he was, staring at me. I winked at him, which is also out of character—it was the wine winking!—and then I leaned back. He was looking at me, and he kept on looking. I didn’t really think too much of it because we’re so different. Everyone has commented on our age difference, and it is big; and I’m not someone who watches TV. So he’s somebody completely out of my world—not someone I’d necessarily think of.
But when we were leaving, I knew he was going to talk to me. I walked right past him, and he said, ‘Who are you? I must know you. I must know you.’ I think I commented what a silly line that was. But I ended up talking to him and his friend for about 10 minutes. He gave me his phone number, but I didn’t call him for a few days, until one of my girlfriends convinced me to do it. I left like the most awkward message: ‘Hey, this is Hilaria, the yoga teacher you met the other day. Call me if you want.’
And he did! I was teaching a class at the time and didn’t know what to do. I never even listened to his voice message—I had my assistant at the time listen to it. She gave me the courage to call him back, and it was perfectly nice.
Then we went out on our first date, and guess who we ran into? You!
Yes, I loved it so much. So, how long after you met him did you know he was the one?
Definitely not right away. That first night, I didn’t realize we were going on a date, so I shared a cab home with another woman at the table. She basically told me—and she wasn’t being very nice—that he was never going to speak to me again. At that point I wasn’t sure I wanted that anyway, but when I got home, I did what I’d typically do, which was to send him a text message saying, ‘Thanks so much for dinner, had a wonderful time.’
He immediately wrote back saying, ‘What do you think about dating me seriously?’ Guess that woman was wrong!
For the next six weeks he was very open, which was something I wasn’t used to. Very few people are so open right at the beginning. He talked about his past. I talked about mine. We talked about our hopes for the future... and he didn’t kiss me for six weeks! He shook my hands for six weeks. We’d have the most romantic dinner date, and afterward he’d drop me off at my house and shake my hand. I’d proceed to go upstairs, and my girlfriends would call me and say, ‘Anything yet?’ and I’d say, ‘Nope, nope, nope.’ Then they’d say, ‘Maybe he just wants to be friends.’
No, I think he knew you were the one, baby!
Maybe. I think we knew fairly soon because we built a real relationship very early on. We got to know each other in a way I think most people forgo if they start dating first, then learn about each other after. Five months into our relationship, we got an apartment together; then we started talking about getting married; then he proposed; then we got married; now we have a kid. So it all went quite fast!
And she’s the most beautiful child. Peter [Hermann, Hargitay’s husband] and I were just speechless after meeting that little angel.
You have to see her again because she’s grown a ton.
Obviously, sleep deprivation is one of the big challenges of being a new mom. What are some of the surprises?
One is the fear. I don’t want to say I’m a fearful mom, but you start to think about all the ways your child could get hurt.... Also, I was surprised at how much I really love her. I don’t want to say I love her more than I love anyone else, because I love Alec, too. But you love them in very different way—it’s such a deep, deep love.
You can say, ‘More than you love anyone.’ Her father will understand that. [laughs] That was my joke with Peter after I had August. I was like, ‘Peter, I love you and you’re great, but...’ We always joked about that. It’s a different kind of love, and it’s so beautiful. It explodes your heart—I think it redefines you.
It really does. As much as she’s changed over the past weeks, I’ve changed, too.
Without a doubt—and you’ll continue to.
I’m going to reference a book of poems called The Prophet [by Kahlil Gibran], which you may know. It talks about how you shouldn’t try to make your children like you, but rather be like your children, because they’re the future. I think so much of that is true.
Absolutely. So, tell me about your new mother-to-be yoga video.
It’s a series of short sequences: One’s for back relief; one’s for hip opening; and then there’s something called the ‘express de-stressor,’ which is if you have only 10 minutes, you can practice it and it’ll loosen up your body, get your circulation going and, hopefully, get you into a peaceful state. And then Alec and I did three ‘partner stretches’ that are very beneficial while you’re pregnant. It gets your partner involved, which is great for both of you. They’re mostly exercises that were working really well for me during my pregnancy.
Well, I have to say, you were the most gorgeous pregnant woman I’ve ever seen.
I don’t know if that’s true, but thank you.
It’s true—people would see you and say, ‘I know, I know, please, she’s gorgeous.’ Anyway, I can’t wait to see the video. I’m not pregnant, but I’m going to do it anyway, because who doesn’t need stretches and little stress relievers for 10 minutes at a time?
Exactly. Obviously, its geared toward pregnant women, but it’s great for anyone. I had a wonderful pregnancy—I didn’t get swollen limbs or joints, and my circulation was good. Of course, there are aches and pains throughout any pregnancy. And you have to pee all the time, and no amount of yoga can relieve that. But I credit the fact that I stayed active, doing yoga, for having a great pregnancy and delivery.
What’s your health routine now?
I exercise nearly every day. Every once in a while I’ll take a day off, but even then, I’m pretty active. I walk a lot, do yoga and Physique 57, which is a ballet barre class.
You’ll have to take me because I’ve never been, and I’m scared of it.
The first three to five classes are the most unpleasant things of your life.
But then you look at your butt and you’re like, ‘OK, I don’t hate it that much.’ [laughs] I also jog and spin. In general, it’s about treating yourself well—eating to nurture yourself, listening to your body, exercising. And doing it because your body wants to move, not because you’re punishing yourself.
It’s so interesting about exercising—I go on and off with running, but after I do it for three days straight, my body starts craving it.
It’s about developing a routine. As with anything, the hardest part is starting. Once you stop, you have to pick yourself up and force yourself to get back on the wagon.
Exactly. So tell me about your life in the Hamptons.
I love the beach—I’m a beach girl, even if I’m not visiting the water every single day. I’ve always lived in cities, so to come out here and find a little bit of paradise, it’s very peaceful. It balances out the hectic week in the city. You come out here, and you see your friends and have amazing meals, and it’s just lovely. People smile at each other out here, and I like that.
Yes, it’s a whole different vibe. Do you have a favorite beach?
We like Indian Wells—but I’ve never met a beach I didn’t like!
Things have been so crazy since you met Alec. You’ve gone from being a dancer and yoga teacher to now navigating this crazy celebrity life, with a husband who’s brilliant and does so many different things, with his philanthropy—not to mention his acting career. How did you navigate that huge change?
It was really surprising in the beginning because I was a very private person and led a very private life. When I first started dating him, I didn’t really think about what other people were going to say. I never thought about the outside world coming in and invading our relationship, our personal life.
At the beginning, I refused to read anything about him online. People would send me articles about him—which alone was very bizarre—and I’d just delete them. I wanted to get to know him for him. So when things started coming out on “Page Six,” and there were paparazzi and people pointing at me and knowing who I was, it freaked me out.
I’ve started to get a little used to it, but I don’t think I’ll ever get fully comfortable with it. There are elements that drive me crazy, and elements I realize can allow me to do a lot of good. The more people you can interact with, the more people you can help. I teach yoga because I like to help people. Plus, my husband does so much with charity, which is one of the reasons I fell in love with him.
He is so generous.
And he touches so many people—because he’s famous, he can serve as a role model and raise awareness about things. But at the same time, we have the paparazzi outside our house every day—it drives me crazy. There are people who think you deserve it because of who you married. And that, for me, is very bizarre, that they don’t see your humanity.
At the end of the day you really have to be secure in your relationship and your home life; you have to learn to close the door to the outside world. Then the next day you focus again on why you’re doing what you’re doing, and put one foot in front of the other.
And here you are in, like, the greatest time of your life—in love, and with your angel daughter. What do you see for the future?
One thing I’m very happy about is this DVD; I’m also hoping to come out with more because teaching is something I’ve always loved doing. I started dancing when I was 2, so fitness has always been an area where I feel I can make a difference.
As for the rest? I don’t know. Be a good mom, maybe have another kid. We’ll see where everything goes.