The â€œBad Momsâ€ star was born in Chernivtsi but moved to the United States with her family in 1991 around the age of 8. Kunis told Maria Shriver in a candid interview uploaded to YouTube Friday that because of this, she â€œvery muchâ€ has â€œalways felt like an American.â€
â€œPeople were like, â€˜Oh, youâ€™re so Eastern European.â€™ I was like, â€˜Iâ€™m so LA! What do you mean?â€™ Like, my whole life I was like, â€˜I am LA through and through,â€™â€ Kunis said.
Kunis said that because she identified so strongly as an American that being Ukrainian felt â€œirrelevantâ€ to her for a majority of her life â€” although she still has close friends in Ukraine and visited the country often with her family and her husband, Ashton Kutcher. Nonetheless, she admitted that whenever people would ask her where she was from, sheâ€™d say she was Russian for â€œa multitude of reasons.â€
â€œOne of them being when I came to the States and I would tell people Iâ€™m from Ukraine, the first question Iâ€™d get was, â€˜Where is Ukraine?â€™â€ Kunis said. â€œAnd then Iâ€™d have to explain Ukraine and where it is on the map, and i was like â€˜Ugh, thatâ€™s exhausting.â€™â€
So, she soon figured out a shorthand.
â€œBut if I was like, â€˜Iâ€™m from Russia,â€™ people were like, â€˜Oh, we know that country.â€™ So I was like, great, Iâ€™ll just tell people from Russia,â€ Kunis said.
But all of that changed for the â€œFour Good Daysâ€ star when Russia invaded Ukraine late last month.
â€œThis happens and I canâ€™t express or explain what came over me, but all of a sudden I was like, â€˜Oh my God, I feel like a part of my heart just got ripped out,â€™â€ she said. â€œIt was the weirdest feeling.â€
She now says that she wonâ€™t tell people sheâ€™s from Russia anymore.
â€œHell no, Iâ€™m from Ukraine!â€ she told Shriver.
She also noted that the way Ukrainians are handling the conflict has given her a renewed sense of â€œpride.â€ She said that she was recently speaking to one of her Ukrainian friends about how his family is handling the conflict.
â€œThey refuse to evacuate,â€ Kunis said of her friendâ€™s family. â€œAnd they all go to work everyday. So theyâ€™re in their bomb shelter at night, they wake up in the morning, they take whatever they have to protect themselves in the city, and they go to their office to continue working. It is a different breed of people,â€ Kunis said.
Ukrainiansâ€™ resilience in the face of devastating circumstances is an aspect of the conflict that has caught many peopleâ€™s attention. Videos of a pianist playing Louis Armstrongâ€™s â€œWhat A Wonderful Worldâ€ outside of a train station in Lviv and a girl singing â€œLet It Goâ€ in a bunker have gone viral on social media. There are many heroic stories about Ukrainians having to travel hundreds of miles to escape violence. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declined an offer from the U.S. to evacuate him and has reportedly dodged multiple assassination attempts.
â€œThe fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride,â€ Zelenskyy said in February, soon after the Russian invasion.
Kunis told Shriver sheâ€™s now trying to instill Ukrainian pride in her children, daughter Wyatt, 7, and son Dimitri, 5, both of whom she shares with Kutcher, who was raised in Iowa.
â€œI turned to my kids and I was like, â€˜You are half Ukrainian, half American!â€™ Like, I literally was like, â€˜Look, you!â€™ And my kids were like, â€˜Yeah mom, I get it.â€™ And I was like, â€˜No! You are Ukrainian and American.â€™ I was like, â€˜You are half Iowa, half Ukraine.â€™ And theyâ€™re like, â€˜OK, I get it.â€™â€