From Ukraine to LA: How Mila Kunis’ family fled the Soviet Union when she was 7 years old

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Mila Kunis, born Milena Markovna Kunis, is a proud Ukrainian, originally from Chernivtsi. Her Jewish family fled Ukraine, which at the time was a Soviet republic, when she was only seven years old in 1991, right before its fall. 

Her father Mark was a mechanical engineer in Ukraine and her mother Elvira was a physics teacher. 

She has previously cited antisemitism in the Soviet Union as one of the reasons her family fled the country. In 2011, the successful actress opened up to the Daily Telegraph about her early childhood.

Mila Kunis, born Milena Markovna Kunis, is a proud Ukrainian, originally from Chernivtsi.

Mila Kunis, born Milena Markovna Kunis, is a proud Ukrainian, originally from Chernivtsi.
(Reuters)

“My whole family was in the Holocaust. My grandparents passed and not many survived,” she said. 

MILA KUNIS, A ‘PROUD UKRAINIAN,’ AND HUSBAND ASHTON KUTCHER LAUNCH FUNDRAISER FOR PEOPLE OF UKRAINE

“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 antisemitic signs.”

“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.

Her Jewish family fled Ukraine, which at the time was a Soviet republic, when she was only seven years old in 1991, right before its fall. 

Her Jewish family fled Ukraine, which at the time was a Soviet republic, when she was only seven years old in 1991, right before its fall. 
(Reuters, File)

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In an interview with Glamour magazine in 2016, Kunis detailed the struggles her parents endured to give herself and her brother Michael, now 46, a new life. 

“My parents went through hell and back. They came to America with suitcases and a family of seven and $250, and that’s it,” she said in the interview. 

“My parents, for years, worked full-time and went to college full-time. They would go to night school to learn English. My mom started working at Thrifty in Culver City as a box lady. That’s what she did until she learned English; then she became a cashier. My dad worked—f–k if I know—seven jobs? He painted a house. He would deliver toilets. He drove a cab, delivered pizzas.” 

Mila Kunis

Mila Kunis
(Reuters, File)

“Whatever he could do, he did. Ultimately, my dad owned cabs, and my mom worked her way up to manager of a Rite-Aid; they bought a car and a condo. But growing up poor, I never missed out on anything. My parents did a beautiful job of not making me feel like I was lesser than any other kids.” 

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Kunis also spoke to the Los Angeles Times in 2008 to share how immigrating to the United States at such a young age affected her. 

“It was very communist, and my parents wanted my brother and me to have a future, and so they just dropped everything,” Kunis told the outlet. 

The Kunis family packed all their belongings and moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of a better life.

The Kunis family packed all their belongings and moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of a better life.
(Reuters)

Kunis said she adjusted “fairly quickly and fairly well.” 

However, Kunis did admit that she struggled to find ways to fit in during the 2nd grade.

“I cried every day,” she revealed. “I didn’t understand the people. I didn’t understand the language.” 

In 2014, the “Black Swan” actress said immigrating to America “was much harder for my 13-year-old brother, it was much harder for my parents.”

Kunis and her husband, Ashton Kutcher, 44, recently vowed to match up to $3 million in donations to help provide immediate humanitarian aid to Ukrainian refugees. 

Kunis and her husband, Ashton Kutcher, 44, recently vowed to match up to $3 million in donations to help provide immediate humanitarian aid to Ukrainian refugees. 
(Miikka Skaffari/Getty Images)

During the interview with the Star-Ledger, the reporter tried to get Kunis’ thoughts on her native country – at the time, Russia had invaded and annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine. But Kunis noted that she was a child when her family had left. 

“Just because I lived there until I was 7 doesn’t mean I identify with Ukraine,” she said in part. Kunis – as mentioned in a recent social media video – has said she “always considered myself American,” however, amid the Russia-Ukraine war, Kunis emphasized she couldn’t be “more proud to be a Ukrainian,” and is proudly defending the country against Russia’s invasion.

Last week, the “That 70s Show” star and her husband, Ashton Kutcher, 44, vowed to match up to $3 million in donations to help provide immediate humanitarian aid to Ukrainian refugees. 

In a video that Kutcher shared with his Instagram followers on Thursday, Kunis started off the video saying, “I was born in Chernivtsi, Ukraine, in 1983. I came to America in 1991. I have always considered myself American, a proud American, I love everything that this country has done for myself and my family.” 

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In a video that Kutcher shared with his Instagram followers on Thursday, Kunis started off the video saying that she is a "proud American" but that she has "never been more proud to be a Ukrainain."

In a video that Kutcher shared with his Instagram followers on Thursday, Kunis started off the video saying that she is a “proud American” but that she has “never been more proud to be a Ukrainain.”
(Getty Images)

“But today, I have never been more proud to be a Ukrainian,” Kunis concluded. 

“And I’ve never been more proud to be married to a Ukrainian,” Kutcher added.

“The events that have unfolded in Ukraine are devastating. There is no place in this world for this kind of unjust attack on humanity,” the “Bad Moms” actress added.

"The events that have unfolded in Ukraine are devastating. There is no place in this world for this kind of unjust attack on humanity," the "Bad Moms" actress added to her statement. 

“The events that have unfolded in Ukraine are devastating. There is no place in this world for this kind of unjust attack on humanity,” the “Bad Moms” actress added to her statement. 
(AP, File)

The couple then vowed to match $3 million in donations through a relief effort via GoFundMe. It will benefit Flexport.org and Airbnb.org, two organizations that are actively on the ground providing immediate assistance to Ukrainians.

“While we witness the bravery of the people of the country that she was born in we’re also witness to the needs of those who have chosen safety. We’re raising funds to support a relief effort that will have immediate impact and supply much-needed refugee and humanitarian aid in the area. The principal challenge right now is logistics. We need to get housing, and we need to get supplies and resources into the area,” Kutcher said. 

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The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has confirmed that 406 civilians were killed in Ukraine since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion began on Feb. 24. And 801 more civilians were injured as of midnight Sunday, the office said, noting that fighting has stymied accurate reporting, and the numbers are actually higher.

The attack has prompted 1.7 million Ukrainians to flee the country.

Fox News’ Stephanie Pagones and Melissa Roberto contributed to this report

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