Mila Kunis recognized by ‘Time’ and ‘People’ for Ukraine war fundraising efforts

The actress, who was born in Chernivtsi in the former Soviet Union, and her husband Ashton Kutcher have raised over $37 million for aid agencies and refugees

Mila Kunis
Mila Kunis at the 94th Academy Awards on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California.David Livingston (Getty Images)

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These days, Mila Kunis lives in a world of open doors, including the bathroom. It’s not entirely her decision but as she recently told E! News, with an eight-year-old daughter, Wyatt, and a six-year-old son, Dimitri, she and her husband Ashton Kutcher have little choice. “I was like, ‘Oh, forget it. Just keep the door open,’” she said of the continuous family interruptions.

Something similar is now happening with Kunis, who was born in Chernivtsi, Ukraine, firmly in the media spotlight. The 39-year-old actress has been named one of the 100 most influential people of the year by Time magazine, and, along with Matthew McConaughey, Quinta Brunson and Jennifer Hudson, she has been chosen as one of People magazine’s 2022 People of the Year. Her latest release, Luckiest Girl Alive (2022), has also been a huge success for Netflix. For an actress who spent many years guarding her privacy in such a way that she was described as surly, and whose rudeness in interviews regularly had her publicists scrambling, it has been quite a year.

Kunis, who lied about her age to land her breakout role as Jackie Burkhart in That 70s Show when she was just 14, has grown up. Not only in age but in maturity and now her focus is on the country of her birth, which she left with her parents at the age of seven to move to the United States. She and Kutcher have raised over $37 million in aid for refugees of the Ukraine war through a GoFundMe campaign, putting in $3 million of their own money. As Kunis told People: “We can’t become desensitized. Helping — not even asking, just doing — should be our standard norm.”

Kunis was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in Black Swan (2010) and has had hit movies in several genres as well as being nominated for a Razzie for Jupiter Ascending (2016). She attributes all of this to her lobe of cinema, which led her to attend so many juvenile castings that won her roles such as playing Angelina Jolie’s daughter in Gia (1998). She also recalls that her early roles paid the bills after her family arrived in the US, fleeing growing anti-Semitism in the former Soviet Union. The actress described herself as a “Russian Jew from Ukraine” in an interview with this newspaper several years ago, but said she is not Orthodox and doesn’t speak the language. “I hate to say it, because I love Ukraine, I am for Ukraine, but it bothers many of my compatriots that I don’t speak Ukrainian.”

Mila Kunis and her husband Ashton Kutcher at an LA Lakers game at Crypto.com Arena on November 13, 2022.
Mila Kunis and her husband Ashton Kutcher at an LA Lakers game at Crypto.com Arena on November 13, 2022. Kevork Djansezian (Getty Images)

Kunis’ arrival in the US was a shock: “My parents lied to me and said we were moving one street over,” she recalls of the journey from Chernivtsi. Having been fairly well off in the former Soviet Union – her mother was a physics teacher and her father an engineer – suddenly the family was struggling to make ends meet. Her mother found work in a supermarket and her father drove a taxi. Kunis arrived unable to speak a word of English.

With acting success came fame and the paparazzi, especially during her relationship with Macauley Culkin. But fate would decree that Kunis would eventually marry the first person she ever kissed, on-screen and in real life. That kiss took place in 1998, during filming on That 70′s Show, with her castmate Kutcher. The couple were married in 2015 after a chance meeting at the 2012 Golden Globes. Kutcher had ended his six-year relationship with Demi Moore and Kunis later confessed she had been making eyes at him at the gala without realizing it was her old friend “Kutch.” They are now the contented inhabitants of a self-sufficient home designed entirely by the couple, built with recycled wood and solar panels that has its own farm, where the family grow their own food.

“I’m so lucky,” Kunis said during one of her recent encounters with the press, paraphrasing the title of her latest movie. Now she is sharing that fortune with her compatriots, even if she doesn’t speak Ukrainian, by donating the millions of dollars she and Kutcher have raised to organizations such as FlexPort, which helps with aid shipments to the millions of Ukrainians displaced by the war, and Airbnb.org, which is providing free housing to refugees. It is a mission she shares with her children, proudly half-Ukrainian, because as Kunis added, it is precisely the compassion she sees in the new generation that gives her faith about the future.

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