Mila Kunis’ unusual name made people wonder where she comes from and many assumed that she’s actually Russian. Is there any truth to these speculations?
Mila Kunis isn’t a Russian citizen. She was born in the Soviet Ukraine and moved to the United States at age seven on a religious-refugee visa. The Golden Globe-nominated actress is fluent in Russian but holds American citizenship.
Stick around to learn more about Mila Kunis’s incredible journey, Soviet roots, and her struggles to adjust to life in America.
Coming to America
Mila Kunis was born as Milena Markovna Kunis in the Soviet Union, and that’s what led many people to believe she’s Russian. Kunis’ hometown Chernivtsi, however, is located on the territory of today’s Ukraine, but she can speak Russian fluently.
The Black Swan actress grew up in a Jewish family but had a hard time practicing her religion due to antisemitism in the former Soviet Union. This was one of many reasons why her parents felt it would be better to raise their children on the other side of the pond.
“My parents both had amazing jobs, and I was very lucky. We were not poor when we lived in Russia, whereas most people were very unfortunate. My parents thought that my brother and I would have no future there, though, so we moved to the United States,” Kunis told Telegraph.
Her parents moved to Los Angeles on a religious-refugee visa with nothing but $250 in their pockets. They were far from living the American dream since their degrees weren’t transferable and had to accept several odd jobs to make ends meet.
Mila’s mother Elvira worked at a local convenience store, while her father Mark drove a cab, painted houses, and delivered pizzas. They didn’t have time to earn back their degrees because supporting their children came first.
Struggling to Fit In
Only two days after coming to America, Mila Kunis was enrolled at Rosewood Elementary School. She knew little English at the time and had a hard time adjusting to her new life.
“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,” the actress told the LA Times.
Kunis felt lost and out of place, but she eventually found her safe space where she fit right in. She started attending acting classes at nine, even though her parents could barely afford them, but it’s proven to be a great investment.
Her first audition was a huge success, and she landed a role in a Barbie commercial. It was just the first in a long series of commercials she appeared in, and her parents supported her acting aspirations as long as she got A’s and stayed in school.
Kunis was only 14 when she was cast as Jackie Burkhart on That ‘70s Show. She even had to lie about her age because actors had to be at least 18 to be eligible for casting, but that didn’t stop her from landing the role that kick-started her career in Hollywood.
Mila’s Soviet Roots
Mila Kunis is honoring her Soviet roots by teaching her children Russian, and she’s also staying true to her faith by celebrating Jewish holidays with her family. Her attempts to pay homage to her heritage weren’t always successful – she tried to visit her childhood home during a trip to Ukraine, but the new owner refused to let her in.
Kunis didn’t seem too eager to discuss the political situation in Ukraine during an awkward interview from 2014, but she was more outspoken about Donald Trump’s anti-refugee stance.“We came here on a religious-refugee visa, and I’m not going to blow this country up. I’m clearly paying taxes. I’m not taking anything away… It saddens me how much fear we’ve instilled in ourselves,” the Golden Globe-nominee told Glamour.