Mila Kunis and her family fled their home of Ukraine in 1991, escaping antisemitism and settling in the U.S. on a religious refugee visa. When war broke out in the country earlier this year, Kunis, a proud Ukrainian American, immediately launched a fundraiser with her husband Ashton Kutcher.
"This was one of the first times I've ever spoken out about being philanthropic, because in this case there was no other way of getting this accomplished. When we saw Putin was going after the entire country, we knew a massive crisis was about to ensue," Kunis told People in a new interview.
She continued, "The luxury of the situation was we didn't have time to overthink things. Because I'm from Ukraine, I started getting calls from people who [wanted to help and] thought I knew the politics or had an understanding of NGOs on the ground. That was my realization: If they don't know who to go to, how will anybody? There were problems we knew we could help solve."
Soon, Kunis and Kutcher's GoFundMe surpassed their goals—and as of this writing, their effort "Stand With Ukraine" has raised over $37 million. "We can't become desensitized," Kunis said. "Helping — not even asking, just doing — should be our standard norm." The celebrity couple contributed $3 million themselves to the fundraiser.
In March, Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Kunis and Kutcher for their support, tweeting he was "Impressed by their determination. They inspire the world."
Kunis had actually met Zelensky years earlier, when a remake of his show Servant of the People was being shopped around Hollywood. She recalled, "I had a deal with ABC, and I was trying desperately to bring the show to the network. We ultimately got outbid, but in the process, I talked to this actor named Zelensky. Years later I was reading the news and saw Ukraine had a new president. I thought to myself, 'A Jewish president? Mazel tov! That name sounds so familiar.' I searched my emails and was like, 'I know him!' Our own little meet-cute."
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