Mila Kunis is an American actress of Ukrainian descent, and her given name is Milena Markovna Kunis. She was born in 1983 in Chernivtsi, a city known to be a cultural and educational center in the western part of the country. At the time, Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union.
Kunis was seven years old when she relocated to the United States together with her parents, Mark and Elvira, and brother Michael with limited resources and the hope for a better life. Seven years later, she landed a life-altering role on “That 70s Show.”
A Hostile Home
Life in the Soviet Union was pretty grim for the majority of the population. Basic needs were often hard to come by for ordinary people, while the Communist elite grew wealthier. Explaining why her family left their homeland, Kunis said:
“My parents wanted my brother and me to have a future, and so they just dropped everything. They came with US$250.”
Mark was a mechanical engineer, and Elvira was a physics teacher. They could afford a relatively comfortable life for their family. But staying in Ukraine meant an uncertain future for their children. There was tension within the union, and no one could predict what would happen once political forces took their course.
Mila Kunis as a young girl at school in Ukraine. | Source: YouTube/@HouzzTV
Anti-semitism within Soviet society was a daily reality for Kunis’ family, who was descended from Holocaust survivors. The actress remembers that it was common to see antisemitic symbols at school or elsewhere in her community.
If leaving home is hard, then finding yourself in an unfamiliar environment can be agonizing.
In the absence of physical threats, what people say, how they treat you or look at you can be menacing enough. As a child, Kunis understood that she and other Jewish people were somehow unwanted and unwelcome. So Mark and Elvira made arrangements to relocate for the sake of their children.
The “Black Swan” actress said that her parents did not tell her that they were moving to a different country. At first, she thought they were just moving up the street. Explaining her parents’ reasoning, she said:
“At that point, it was still, like, at the fall of communism and we came on a refugee visa. It just wasn’t something you flaunted.
But after a series of novel events, a train ride to Moscow, her first time on a plane, and having a Coke, Kunis found herself in a whole new world. The family of four landed in New York and made their way to Los Angeles.
Mila Kunis as a young girl playing with a doll. | Source: YouTube/@HouzzTV
A Place of Refuge
If leaving home is hard, then finding yourself in an unfamiliar environment can be agonizing. They didn’t speak the language or understand the culture. Kunis described being a migrant as feeling trapped within one’s inability to communicate, saying:
“It must have been frightening because I blocked it out. I don’t have any memories. Apparently, my parents tell me, I cried every morning and when I came back from school.”
But life must go on. Kunis and her brother were enrolled in school a few days after arriving in Los Angeles. Though her parents had well-paying jobs back home, their qualifications were not transferable to the American system. So the couple took odd jobs to provide for their children.
Mila Kunis with her mother Elvira Kunis and brother Michael Kunis | Source: YouTube/@HouzzTV
Kunis said her mother bagged groceries while her father had seven jobs, including painting houses, making deliveries, and driving a cab. While working multiple jobs, they went to night school to learn English and increase their chances for better-paying employment.
Though they could ill afford it, her parents enrolled her in an acting class.
They found their footing with time. Kunis’ father became a business owner, operating several cabs, and her mother rose through the ranks to be the manager of a pharmacy.
Elvira and Mark kept working hard and soon took pride in buying a home where they raised their children. they also bought a car, a great achievement for the refugee family. The actress spoke lovingly of her parents’ sacrifice:
“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.”
Though they could ill afford it, her parents enrolled her in an acting class. There, she met her future manager, Susan Curtis. Soon Kunis was booking TV commercials for brands like Barbie. She also got parts on shows like “Days of our Lives,” “The John Larroquette Show” and “7th Heaven.”
In 1998, Kunis joined the cast of “That 70s Show.” She played Jackie Burkhart, the typical entitled rich girl, alongside other young actors, including Ashton Kutcher, Wilmer Valderrama, and Topher Grace. A far cry from her real personality, the role enabled her to showcase her acting and comedic ability.
Kunis revealed that as a young actress, she “had money” while her family was still struggling financially.
Her note-worthy performance attracted the attention of executives. And soon after, she got an opportunity to voice the character of Meg on Seth McFarlane’s animated series “Family Guy.” In 2006 “That 70s Show” came to an end, and Kunis was free to pursue more challenging roles in movies.
Mila Kunis poses for a portrait at a bowling alley in Hollywood, CA on May 02 2006. | Source: Getty Images
Kunis also experienced significant changes in her personal life. After a long-term relationship ended, she began dating her friend and “That ’70s Show” co-star Ashton Kutcher in 2012. Speaking about being in a relationship with her best friend, Kunis said:
“I literally can’t lie to him. He can call me out on everything, and I can do the same, because there’s nothing about the other person’s face that we don’t know.”
The couple welcomed a daughter, Wyatt Isabelle Kutcher, on September 30, 2014. In 2015, Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher quietly tied the knot over the Fourth of July weekend. They had their second child, Dimitri Portwood Kutcher, on November 30, 2016.
A Great Gift
In a clip that has amassed more than 20 million views online, Kunis revealed that as a young actress, she “had money” while her family was still struggling financially. But her parents never touched any of her earnings. Speaking of her modest parents, she said:
“Like to this day, I’ll be like, ‘Let’s go out to dinner for your birthday Dad’. And then he calls the restaurant before we get there and puts his card down.”
In 2016, Kunis was inspired to do something for her parents. Knowing that they would have balked at an extravagant gift, she convinced them to turn their condo over to her. Working with design and renovation experts, she transformed her childhood home into a modern living space.
The six-week renovation was documented on “My Houzz,’ an online home improvement series that her husband, Kutcher, executive produced. The actress’ design brief centered on making a more functional living/kitchen area.
Mercifully, the actress left the rest of the hard work to the professionals.
The first design challenge was that when one was in the kitchen, they were isolated from the rest of the family in the seating area. Kunis said that it was hard to hear each other even when shouting. The kitchen was also cramped and had limited space for several people to occupy at the same time.
The second thing that the team would tackle was finishes and styling, including the furniture. Kunis likened the condo’s original look to the show “Miami Vice” in the 1990s, saying:
“Lots of leather couches, green and pink walls which, you know, you wouldn’t think belong in the same room, but according to my parents, they do.”
Kunis was nine months pregnant with her second child, Dimitri, at the time of filming, but she was determined to take the first swing on demolition day. Mercifully, the actress left the rest of the hard work to the professionals.
Outdated Living Area | Source: YouTube/@HouzzTV
The solution was to remove the divider, creating an open plan for the kitchen, dining, and living area. Next was to reorganize the kitchen to create more space for storage and movement. There was even enough space for an island in the new setup.
He commented that the beautiful space now matches the love that it holds.
The team brightened the walls with light paint color, giving the whole room a cohesive look. They also installed new fixtures, including a stunning modern chandelier over the dining table. New furniture was the icing on the cake: a soft grey sectional in the seating area and an extendable dining table with royal blue chairs.
When Kunis presented the finished product to her parents, her father, Mark, couldn’t help but grin, and her mother, Elvira, shed tears of joy. The actress had wanted to give something back to the ones who gave her everything. Speaking from an adult’s perspective, she said:
“Knowing how hard I’ve worked now for what I have, puts things in perspective for how much harder my parents had to have worked to have given my brother and I the life that we had.”
Kutcher, who was present for the reveal, poured some champagne to toast the successful project, and his lovely in-laws. He commented that the beautiful space now matches the love that it holds.
The actress credits her parents for giving her confidence. Their love and hard work ensured that she never felt less worthy than other children. It also inspired her to put her family first. She is proud of her decision to take a break from acting to have babies with Kutcher.
Mila Kunis has also shown a great ability to take a position based on her principles and advocate for the less fortunate.
Kunis is also determined to raise open-minded children who are secure in themselves. Like herself, they should be clear about what they believe in and unafraid to speak their minds.
Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, with their children Wyatt and Dimitri, attend the diving competition at the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest, on July 17, 2017. | Source: Getty Images
The actress, who has been working since she was nine, has had varied experiences of the world. But being a mom has been a challenge in itself. Citing a great lesson from parenting, she said:
“Another important thing to learn is that kids have a personality that has nothing to do with you. I’ve realized you can control only so much.”
Kunis has shown that she is a gifted actress shifting comfortably from dramatic films like “Book of Eli” and “Black Swan,” to sci-fi, as seen in “Jupiter Rising.” But her sweet spot is in comedies like “Forgetting Sarah Marshal,” “Ted,” and “Bad Moms.”
Mila Kunis has also shown a great ability to take a position based on her principles and advocate for the less fortunate. She and her husband raised over 20 million dollars to help refugees fleeing conflict in Ukraine. Her efforts earned her an audience with the president and first lady of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky and Olena Zelenska.