News

Inside the chaotic life and career of Chynna Phillips, the other Baldwin wife

It’s no coincidence that Chynna Phillips, born into music royalty, wrote the smash hit “Hold On” for her girl group Wilson Phillips in 1990.

The emotional song became a personal anthem for Chynna — the daughter of Michelle Phillips and John Phillips of the legendary ’60s band Mamas and the Papas, and wife of actor Billy Baldwin — who has been thrown curve balls all her life. The latest was hurled at her just this week.

On Tuesday, an interview to talk about her new, Christian-themed YouTube series, “California Preachin’,” took place the same day that Baldwin’s sister-in-law, Hilaria Baldwin, appeared on the front page of The Post. Hilaria, it turns out, had spent years faking a Spanish identity. Her real name is Hillary and she was born in Boston, yet she once acted like she didn’t know the English word for “cucumber” on live television.

“This is probably an awkward and embarrassing time for Alec and Hilaria,” Billy Baldwin told The Post in a FaceTime interview with Chynna from their Santa Barbara, Calif., home Wednesday. “I’ve been texting Alec the whole time to make sure he’s OK and if he needs anything.”

“My family has been through this before,” added Chynna, 52. “I was born in a fishbowl, and this kind of stuff has been happening around me since 1968.”

And in a video posted Wednesday, she elaborated: “I feel terrible. Who’s going to throw the first stone at my sweet sister-in-law? She’s a good woman and you know none of us are perfect. We all have issues.”

Chynna wrote “Hold On” when she was struggling with early sobriety and a bad breakup — and a year before she met her now-husband. Holding on is how she’s navigated a tumultuous life as a Hollywood baby who’s often in the eye of the media storm.

In 2009, when she appeared on “Good Morning America” to promote her first album in five years, the interview was hijacked by more sensational news. Her half-sister Mackenzie Phillips’ memoir “High on Arrival” came out the same day as Chynna’s album and detailed Mackenzie’s claims of a 10-year consensual sexual relationship with their father.

“I shut down emotionally,” Chynna said at the time. She was one of the few people in her family back then who stood by Mackenzie. Her mother voiced doubts and Chynna told The Post she still isn’t sure if Michelle believes the incest happened. Mackenzie said three years ago that many in the family still shun her.

“I believed her because who in their right mind would say something like that about your father?” Chynna said.

Although Chynna’s belief is genuine, it became “a little bit political,” she recalled. “My record company at the time told me that if I didn’t go on ‘Oprah’ with Mackenzie they wouldn’t promote my album.”

(Left to right) Denny Doherty, Mama Cass Elliott, Michelle Phillips and John Phillips of the legendary ’60s band Mamas and the Papas.RB/Redferns

“One Reason,” a Christian pop album with Vaughan Penn, bombed anyway, she said, selling “about four copies.” She plans to sell the extra 5,000 copies of the record that she has stored in her backyard shed along with other “California Preachin’” merchandise like hoodies once she gets her website up.

Chynna now focuses on her “faith-filled” channel she launched last year, which consists of shockingly candid observations about her life and mental health. She films many of them inside her home, on the winding roads outside or at the beach. The number of subscribers to “California Preachin’” has quadrupled in less than a year.

Her videos describe a lonely childhood with her divorced mom and absent dad, early substance abuse and a sometimes volatile (but loving) marriage to Baldwin, with whom she shares three kids, including Vance, a son who (successfully) battled stage 4 cancer. She also brings up her extended family, many of whom make headlines more than she does.

Chynna’s half-siblings include actress Mackenzie, 61, as well as actress Bijou Phillips. Bijou, 40, is married to actor Danny Masterson, who was charged with three counts of rape last year stemming from three separate incidents between in 2001 and 2003.  Chynna’s famous in-laws include not only Alec and Hilaria but also Stephen Baldwin, father of Hailey Bieber, who with his wife Kennya helped turn Chynna into a born-again Christian.

Actor William Baldwin and singer Chynna Phillips at NYC’s Ethel Barrymore Theatre in 1992.Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Chynna and Billy, who often host niece Ireland Baldwin at their home, spent New Year’s Eve watching Hailey’s husband Justin Bieber perform at the Beverly Hilton Hotel with their kids and Stephen Baldwin. “It was awesome,” Chynna said of the concert, which she plans to upload to her channel. “It was the first time he’d really done a full concert concert in about four years. We were all praying for him, not that he needed it … but just so he would have an amazing experience and be able to rock the house and to rock 2021, which he did.

“They’re a cute couple,” Chynna added. “We love them, and we admire their faith.”

Her mother Michelle, now 76, and her kids, Jameson, 20, Vance, 19, and Brooke, 16, occasionally appear on “Cal Preachin’” and husband Billy joins Chynna for videos titled “Chilly.”

The YouTube series paints a vivid picture of how Chynna, who abandoned a promising acting career and singing stardom after marrying Baldwin in 1995, has both thrived and suffered as an adult. She said her Christian faith has saved her.

“Jesus has rewritten my story,” Chynna said. “I could have had a really bad ending. But everyone has to take responsibility for themselves. I was determined not to make the same mistakes my parents made.”

Some revealing video titles include: “After My Dad Did This to Me My Life Changed Forever,” “Been in Tears All Morning,” “I Don’t Want to Call it a Rape But That’s Exactly What It Was,” “Satan is a Punk!,” “I’m Hanging on By a Thread,” “A Predator Groomed Me at 14 Years Old and I Fell Prey” and “I’m Not Unstable or Manic, Just Gutted.”

“I know the world is not waiting for a new definition of Christianity,” Chynna said. “People are sick and tired of the dogma and the fundamentalists. I just want to show someone being very humbled and walking with the Lord. I’m sharing my experiences in a raw, authentic sometimes ugly way. I don’t edit it.”

Michelle Phillips (top) with her daughter Chynna Sygma via Getty Images

Today, she said she’s forgiven her father, who died in 2001, and is still close to Mackenzie, who she said owns two rehab centers, is still acting and “doing great.”

She’s also tight with Bijou, and said it’s been “terrifying” to witness Danny Masterson’s legal ordeal after being charged with rape.

“He’s got the best lawyers so we’re hoping for the best,” Chynna said. She also credits Bijou with changing her mind about leaving Billy after she filed for divorce from him in 2010. Chynna had been struggling with anxiety at the time but withdrew her petition after just two days.

Unlike her calm interview demeanor, Chynna sometimes appears to come undone on her videos, causing alarm among fans and family.

Billy Baldwin said he received concerned messages last week when Chynna recorded a video crying in a hospital bathroom. She was there for her son Vance, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2018 but is now apparently clear of the disease after undergoing 28 rounds of chemo. He had just had a benign tumor removed — something she expected, but was nonetheless emotional about.

“I had to reassure everyone she’s fine,” Billy Baldwin said. “She was just getting it all out.”

Chynna said that’s exactly how she wants her videos to be — honest — opening up to her fans about her life and faith. Billy calls her his “holy hottie.”

“I went to therapy for five years and read every self-help book,” Chynna said. “I was always determined to have a life different than my mom and dad and to break intergenerational patterns.”

Carving a new path took some hard work, however.

“I felt my life was senseless when I was young,” she said. “I went down some rabbit holes. I spent a lot of time at the Bodhi bookstore. I read ‘Autobiography of a Soul.’ I was meditating, doing a lot of yoga, seeing a lot of psychics. I dabbled in Kabbalah.”

Billy Baldwin, his son Vance (center) and Chynna Phillips (right)Instagram

Chynna added that her childhood, while seemingly glamorous, was marred by the frequent absence of her dad, her mother’s string of lovers and Michelle’s efforts to jump-start an acting career.

“I was bullied a lot and we were not rich,” Chynna said. “My mom was struggling, like, to get an arc on ‘The Love Boat.’ I was in a vortex. I felt like damaged goods. I’d been molested a few times.”

When she met Baldwin at the airport getting ready to board the same flight to New York in 1991, she said she thought he was “gorgeous. I was smitten. He asked me out by the time we got to baggage claim.”

She fell in love with Baldwin, but worried he was not the right guy for her.

“My therapist said, ‘Chynna this is a good man who loves you so much,’” she recalled. “But I started to panic. I said he’s not complex enough for me, he’s not a rebel, he’s not an alcoholic. I need to be with an alcoholic.”

But Baldwin — and what Chynna calls his “stability” — prevailed, and the two got hitched. She said it was her decision to focus more on motherhood than showbusiness.

“It’s kind of impossible to be a mom and have a career, or at least it’s pretty difficult,” she said. “I knew I didn’t have the constitution for it.”

(Left to right) Wendy Wilson, Carnie Wilson and Chynna Phillips of the pop group Wilson Phillips. Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

Wilson Phillips, which consisted of Chynna and her childhood friends, Wendy and Carnie Wilson, daughter of Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson, disbanded in 1992. They later reunited to release an album of Christmas songs and an album of cover songs and still tour a few times a year.

Chynna said she would love to get back into acting, as long as she could find roles in Christian-themed movies and television, but sounds content to focus on “California Preachin’” for now.

Her life, with the exception of her son’s cancer ordeal, looks enviable to an outsider, with a gorgeous home and doting husband. But, Chynna insists, it’s not as easy as it looks.

“People may think I have this perfect life, but the grass truly is always greener on the other side,” she said. “At the end of the day, we’re all just walking each other home.”

Follow Me