Hayden Panettiere Opens Up About Her Daughter Kaya, Who Lives in Europe With Her Dad: 'She's Amazing' (Exclusive)

The actress, who lost custody of her daughter to her ex Wladamir Klitschko in 2018, says her 9-year-old is into horses and already speaks five languages: 'She's a genius!'

<p>ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty</p> Hayden Panettiere in 2023


Hayden Panettiere in 2023

Hayden Panettiere is one proud parent — and for good reason.

Her daughter Kaya Klitschko, 9, who lives in Europe with her father, Ukrainian boxer Wladamir Klitschko, is already multilingual.

"Kaya speaks five languages," the Nashville actress, 34, tells PEOPLE. "English, Russian, Ukrainian, German, and she's now getting on with her French...she's a genius!"

"I think language is one thing we do poorly in the US," she continues. "By the time we start teaching them languages, their brain is already too formed. But when they're babies and young, they're like a sponge. You can teach them anything." She adds, "She doesn't appreciate it now, but I keep telling her she will!"

When Kaya was three, Panettiere agreed that her daughter should live with her Ukrainian ex while she was in the midst of a struggle with opioids and alcohol. However, in 2018, she revealed on Red Table Talk that she didn't realize it would be permanently.

Related: Hayden Panettiere Reveals Addiction to Opioids and Alcohol: 'I Was in a Cycle of Self-Destruction'

"I was gonna go work on myself and I was gonna get better," Panettiere told Jada Pinkett Smith. "And when I got better that things could change and she could come to me and I could have my time with her. But that didn't happen."

Franziska Krug/Getty Hayden Panettiere and Wladamir Klitschko in happier times
Franziska Krug/Getty Hayden Panettiere and Wladamir Klitschko in happier times

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

On the show, Panettiere noted that she thought her daughter Kaya was only on a visit with her father in Ukraine at the time — but later learned her toddler would be staying for good.

"She was almost 3 and it wasn't fully my decision," Panettiere said on the show, of relinquishing custody to Klitschko. "In fact, I didn't even know it was happening until she was already over there."

Related: Hayden Panettiere Says Daughter Kaya, 7, Is 'Safe and Not in Ukraine' Following Russia's Invasion

Since her daughter moved to Europe, Panettiere has gotten sober and made a return to acting. She's also about to embark on a three-night engagement with the speaking series "Intimate Conversation with Hayden Panettiere," and stays in regular contact with her child — who she says is obsessed with horses.

"I believe it's nature over nurture," she says. "I have horseback riding in my genetics — my great-uncle once won the Kentucky Derby. I got a video of her the other day watching Racing Stripes, which is a movie she watches on repeat, and she was sitting on this toy hippo and kind of racing the hippo and going crazy — I thought its ears were going to rip off!"

The actress also says her daughter loves swimming, which she attributes to her own love of being in water.

"She's just like me," Panettiere says of Kaya. "When I was working on Nashville, I was pregnant with her and just spent a lot of time in my pool. And she came out just loving water."

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.