“My parents wanted my brother and me to have a future, and so they just dropped everything. They came with $250.”
Mila Kunis arrived in America unable to speak the language, having fled her home country which at the time was still a part of the Soviet Union.
Kunis was born in the city of Chernivtsi in southwestern Ukraine in 1983, she along with her family, immigrated seven years later.
Back in 2008, she told the Los Angeles Times her family fled right at the fall of the Soviet Union, “It was very communist, and my parents wanted my brother and me to have a future, and so they just dropped everything. They came with $250.”
Mila said her father Mark did odd jobs like installing toilets, delivering pizza, and painting houses despite being a mechanical engineer in his home country. Her mother Elvira, a physics teacher back in Ukraine, found work in the back room of a drugstore; once she learned English she moved on to cashier.
“Ultimately, I adjusted fairly quickly and fairly well,” Kunis continued. “But it must have been hard, because I blocked out second grade completely. I have no recollection of it. I always talk to my mom and my grandma about it. It was because I cried every day. I didn’t understand the culture. I didn’t understand the people. I didn’t understand the language.”
She later revealed she had written her college admission essay about the experience, asking the reader to “imagine being blind and deaf at age seven.”
“That’s kind of what it felt like moving to the States,” Kunis noted. “But I got over it pretty fast.”
Mila later cited antisemitism to be another reason she and her family had fled the country in an interview with the Daily Telegraph in 2011.
“After the Holocaust, in Russia you were not allowed to be religious. So my parents raised me to know I was Jewish. You know who you are inside. When I was in school you would still see anti-Semitic signs,” she told the publication.
“One of my friends who grew up in Russia, she was in second grade. She came home one day crying. Her mother asked why and she said on the back of her seat there was a swastika. This is a country that obviously does not want you,” Kunis added.
Since the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine, Kunis and her husband Ashton Kutcher have created the “Stand with Ukraine” campaign which aims to raise $30 million for Ukrainian refugees.
The couple have even pledged to match donations up to $3 million dollars and the campaign has already raised more than half of its goal within 48-hours of its launch.
In a video for the fundraising campaign, the 38-year-old addressed fans and followers who might donate to the cause, “I have always considered myself an American, a proud American. I love everything that this country has done for myself and my family, but today I have never been more proud to be a Ukrainian.”
“And I’ve never been more proud to be married to a Ukrainian,” Kutcher added.