Sen. Kamala Harris's Step-Kids Call Her "Momala"

McKenzie Jean-Philippe
·4 mins read
Photo credit: @kamalaharris
Photo credit: @kamalaharris

From Oprah Magazine

  • As a senator, former attorney general and former Vice President Joe Biden's running mate, Kamala Harris's career is stacked, but we can't help but be curious about her personal life.

  • Below, everything we know about step-children Cole and Ella, her husband Douglas Emhoff's kids from his first marriage.

On Tuesday August 11, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden ushered in political history when he announced Sen. Kamala Harris would be his vice presidential running mate for the upcoming 2020 election. The California politician is the first Black and South-Asian American woman to earn the nomination for any major party.

Though Harris, 55, a lawyer and former attorney general of California, has been in politics for 10 years now, the nation is zeroing in on who could become our first-ever female VP. From her personal background and policies she's passionate about, to her family and equally talented sister, we want to know it all.

Her love story with her husband of five years, Douglas Emhoff, is one of our favorites. Harris herself didn't have children before marrying Emhoff, but after they met she became a stepmom to his two kids, Cole and Ella.

Below, everything we know about the close-knit relationship between the children and Harris.

Kamala Harris is stepmom—or "Momala"—to her husband's two children.

Emhoff has two children from his previous relationship with ex-wife Kerstin: daughter Ella and son Cole. Harris wrote in an essay for Elle that the two are named for the famous musicians Ella Fitzgerald and John Coltrane. She officially became their stepmom in 2015 when she and Emhoff were married, and they both call her "Momala" because they all "agreed that we didn’t like the term 'stepmom,'” she wrote.

The politician explained that when she and Emhoff first met, they decided to take some time before she met the kids, but when she finally did, she brought along a tin of cookies tied neatly with a bow. "I was determined not to insert myself in their lives until Doug and I had established we were in this for the long haul," she said. "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."

Harris says Cole and Ella are "brilliant, talented [and] funny."

Though neither have ever given a public interview, Cole is the most private of the two. What we do know from a 2018 Vogue article is that he graduated from Colorado College in May 2017 and at the time was working as an assistant at William Morris Endeavor, a Beverly Hills talent and media agency. Oh, and he has a longtime girlfriend according to his Instagram account.

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by @ coleemhoff on May 24, 2019 at 8:24pm PDT

Ella, 21, is a a student at Parsons School of Design in New York City, where she majors in apparel and textiles according to her LinkedIn. She shares many of her designs on her Instagram account and even has her own website,, where she accepts commissions for her work.

"They are brilliant, talented, funny kids who have grown to be remarkable adults," Harris wrote in Elle. "I was already hooked on Doug, but I believe it was Cole and Ella who reeled me in."

They are a happy, blended family.

The California senator explained that she and Emhoff's ex Kerstin became "dear friends" and became incredibly close once she entered Cole and Ella's lives.

"She and I became a duo of cheerleaders in the bleachers at Ella’s swim meets and basketball games, often to Ella’s embarrassment. We sometimes joke that our modern family is almost a little too functional," she said.

View this post on Instagram

Family Selfie!

A post shared by Douglas Emhoff (@douglasemhoff) on Jul 18, 2019 at 8:05pm PDT

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