Why Ukrainian Immigrant Mila Kunis Told People She Was Russian Before The Invasion

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Mila Kunis opens up on the emotional toll of recent events in Ukraine.

In a candid interview with Maria Shriver, the actress and activist spoke at length about the newfound pride she herself has gained as a Ukrainian immigrant, why she makes it a point to tell her children they are “half Ukrainian and half American” and why it is important for Americans to separate the Russian people from those in power.

“I was born in Ukraine. I came to the United States in 1991 and we were the last of my family to migrate,” says Kunis, adding that she was around 8 years old at the time.

“I always felt like an American,” she continued, saying that growing up, “people were like, ‘Oh, you’re so Eastern European. I was like, ‘I’m so LA!’ What do you mean? Like, my whole life, I was like, ‘I’m LA through and through.’

Everything changed when Russia invaded Ukraine last month – an event Kunis says changed the way she embraces her Ukrainian identity.

“[Russia’s invasion] is happening and I can’t express or explain what came over me, but all of a sudden I was like, “Oh my God, I feel like a part of my heart is coming from s ‘snatch,’” she explained. “It was the weirdest feeling.”

That mindset has extended to the way she explains the situation with her children, daughter Wyatt, 7, and son Dimitri, 5, both of whom she shares with Ashton Kutcher.

“It doesn’t take away from who I am as a person, it just adds a whole other layer,” she explains. “I turned to my kids and said, ‘You’re half Ukrainian, half American!’ Like, I was literally like, ‘Look, you! And my kids were like, ‘Yeah mom, I get it.’ And I was like, ‘No! You’re Ukrainian and American.’ I was like, ‘You’re half Iowa, half Ukraine.’ And they’re like, ‘Okay, I get it.’ »

“It didn’t matter to me that I came from Ukraine. It never mattered,” she explained of her upbringing. “So much so that I always said I was Russian. As I’ve always been, “I’m from Russia” for a multitude of reasons. One of them being that when I came to the United States and told people I was from Ukraine, the first question I got was, “Where is Ukraine?” And then I should explain Ukraine and where it is on the map… But if I said, “I’m from Russia”, people would say, “Oh, we know this country. So I was great, I’ll just tell the people from Russia.

“Surely not! I’m from Ukraine. Everything has changed,” she says now. gave me.”

As for Kunis’ message to the American people, one of the most important points she wanted to make was to implore people to understand the difference between Russian people and Russian leaders.

“I don’t think we should see the Russian people as an enemy,” she explained. “I really want to point that out. I don’t think it’s said enough in the press. I think there’s now, ‘If you’re not with us, you’re against us’. And I don’t want to not that people confuse the two issues that are happening. I don’t think it’s the Russian people… I encourage people to look at it from the perspective of ‘it’s the people in power, not the people themselves “. “

“I also don’t want people to get discouraged and confuse different issues in the world, and I don’t want people to compare themselves,” she added. “I think one thing that kinda happens that I’ve noticed is people say, ‘Why is everyone paying attention to this issue, but nobody’s been paying attention to all these other issues that happened?’ And I don’t want people to confuse.

“Like everyone else,” she concluded. “People just [need] focus on what’s at hand right now and right now this issue can become incredibly catastrophic for the rest of the world, not just this part of the world, and I don’t want people to lose sight of that .”

Kunis and Kutcher put their money and time where their mouths are.

The couple recently reached a milestone in their fundraising efforts for Ukraine, raising $20 million in less than a week – just under $10 million from their original goal of $30 million. dollars, which they are confident of reaching sooner rather than later.

“Our goal is $30 [million] and we’ll get there,” Kutcher said in an update this week.

“But we want to say thank you to the 56,000 of you who were able to donate and supported us. Whether it’s the $5, $10, $1,000, whatever it is, it means a lot to us because it brings community and a sense of belonging and an ability to help,” Kunis added.

Their funds benefit Flexport and Airbnb, two organizations that “are actively on the ground providing immediate relief to those who need it most,” Kunis said.

“There have been over a million children – they are just children – who currently have refugee status,” Kutcher added. “Anything we can do helps and we appreciate you.”

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