Senator Kamala Harris, the former prosecutor and California attorney general who won the 2020 election alongside president-elect Joe Biden to become the vice president-elect, has a loving and supportive family. Her husband Douglas Emhoff has two children, Cole and Ella—to them, Harris is "Momala," because "Cole, Ella, and I agreed that we didn’t like the term 'stepmom.'" Harris has spoken publicly about her close bond with her stepkids and how much Cole and Ella mean to her. Now, given her new role and increased visibility, we'll likely going to hear even more about them.
Kamala Harris was careful and thoughtful about meeting Cole and Ella.
Cole and Ella are named after John Coltrane and Ella Fitzgerald. As Harris wrote in ELLE, being the child of divorced parents herself, she was very careful about her relationship with them both when she and Emhoff first started dating.
"I was determined not to insert myself in their lives until Doug and I had established we were in this for the long haul. Children need consistency; I didn’t want to insert myself into their lives as a temporary fixture because I didn’t want to disappoint them. There’s nothing worse than disappointing a child."
But she needn't have worried. The initial meeting went well, and Harris fell in love with the two kids. She was nervous at first and wanting to make a good first impression she "picked up a tin of cookies and tied a ribbon in a bow around them," but worried they might find the gesture "weird" or "too much."
They loved it.
"Cole and Ella could not have been more welcoming. They are brilliant, talented, funny kids who have grown to be remarkable adults. I was already hooked on Doug, but I believe it was Cole and Ella who reeled me in."
Now, Cole and Ella are an important part of her life.
Emhoff and Harris officially got married in 2015. To the kids, Harris is now "Momala":
In an interview with Glamour, the two kids shared a story about when they met Kamala for the first time. "I think for all of us, it was love at first sight. We had an incredible evening at one of my favorite restaurants—The Reel Inn. We had a long drive down the Pacific Coast Highway, sharing music. I got to know her first on a much more personal level—her music tastes, her cooking, how she interacts with Doug, which was hilarious. She would just be ribbing him. It was perfect," said Cole. "Over time, I got a sense of who she was and her career up to that point. It gave me a new understanding of what she's been able to accomplish, and I was so impressed."
Ella then added: "I think when we met her, I was about to go into high school, so I was in an equally intense time, but for different, more angsty reasons. It felt serious when he was just talking about her, because I could hear it in his voice. When we did meet, it all felt so natural that it wasn't even a big deal. It felt like we had known each other forever. And I think what was important was getting to know her as a person first—a person before a politician."
When Harris made the decision to run for president, she explained: "They are my endless source of love and pure joy...I can say one thing with certainty, my heart wouldn’t be whole, nor my life full, without them."
Obviously, their schedules (especially Harris') are crazy, but it's pretty clear they still try to make time for each other:
They may not do it in person anymore, but the family would gather for Sunday dinners for a time. Per the Glamour interview, Doug, Kamala, and the kids now have a weekly Zoom call on Sundays.
"We have a Sunday Zoom, and we talk during the week. Not as much as I'd like, but we talk. But when you're on the road like this and you see what's going on in other people's families, it just gives you so much time to reflect. It's really opened my eyes, frankly," said Doug. "And it's made me a better surrogate because I listen and I take it back to Kamala and Joe. And then it informs what the campaign is talking about."
Cole works as an executive assistant for Plan B Entertainment after graduating Colorado College. BTW it's the very same company founded by Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston when they were still an item, per Variety, and Brad later took over ownership.
Ella is a student at Parsons School of Design where she's pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Apparel and Textiles. She's a pro-knitter making all kinds of sweaters, shorts, and pants that I desperately would want in my closet. Lucky for me, she also accepts custom commissions via her website.
She's "dear friends" with Doug’s ex-wife Kerstin too.
Yep, you read that right! She and Doug's ex-wife, Kerstin, get along too, as Harris jokes that their "modern family is almost a little too functional." Kerstin's totally supported their relationship from the get-go. She told Marie Claire that when he revealed they were dating, she just thought, "Wow, that's cool. Don't mess this up!"
Kerstin even offered her creative talents and connections (she's the co-founder and chief executive of the production company Prettybird) for Harris' presidential campaign. She recalled to Marie Claire, "They were like, 'The ex-wife wants to do what?'"
In an essay written for ELLE, Harris wrote about their unexpected friendship and what it means to Emhoff's children: "To know Cole and Ella is to know that their mother Kerstin is an incredible mother. Kerstin and I hit it off ourselves and are dear friends. She and I became a duo of cheerleaders in the bleachers at Ella's swim meets and basketball games, often to Ella's embarrassment."
Harris is also a supportive aunt.
Harris' sister Maya—the two women are close both personally and professionally—also has a daughter, Meena. Maya recently posted this pic of the three of them:
In an essay for Elle, Meena shared what her aunt taught her about ambition and how it came full circle in Delaware on Saturday when her aunt celebrated her Vice-President elect win. She wrote:
I stood on that stage with my two young daughters, listening to a victory speech delivered by the first Black, first South Asian, first female Vice President-elect of the United States. She spoke directly to children everywhere: “Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourselves in a way that others may not.” That evening, amid the dazzling lights and honking cars of a euphoric crowd in Delaware, I wasn’t just celebrating a historic win. I was also celebrating the reality that, to my little girls up on stage—and little girls all across the country—the ambition that propelled my aunt to the White House will finally be seen as normal. Because like her, more and more ambitious women aren’t running from what they could be. Instead, they’re chasing the dreams they were born to achieve, and demanding a more equal world where they can succeed.