Jeanise Jones became an unwitting star of Borat 2. She appeared in her actual role as a babysitter and, of all the members of the public pressganged into appearing in the movie, unwittingly, she shone out as the only one who would not pander to prejudice, and confront Borat's bigotry. She was harsh with Borat, yes sympathetic, understanding and supportive to his fictitious daughter, empowering her not to follow her father's prejudices and undergo plastic surgery to please a man. In the entire history of Sacha Baron Cohen's schtick, it's basically been Jeanise Jones, and the late Right Honourable Tony Benn MP. who have successfully and with purpose countered the narratives he has given. That is it.
Despite not being an actor in Borat 2, Jeanise Jones is about to become one, playing God's right-hand angel in Jane Bussman and Naisola Grimwood's upcoming movie Reincarnated Royal, a satirical comedy targeting high-profile figures including self-proclaimed 'mentors' of teenage girls and a certain prime CEO. This week, Jeanise Jones spoke to Bleeding Cool about her experiences on Borat 2.
Bleeding Cool: Jeaniese, can you tell us a little about yourself and your life?
Jeanise Jones: I'm 62-year-old mother with five grandchildren. I have lived in Oklahoma most of my life, I've worked for an insurance company for over thirty years. I started to work at a counselling center as a receptionist, which I really enjoyed, then COVID hit so I was laid off.
Bleeding Cool: Can I ask how and when you were recruited for the Borat movie, what it was you thought you were agreeing to, and when it was you realised things were not as they were meant to be?
Jeanise Jones: Three ladies stopped by our church, the Ebenezer Baptist church. They told our church fiance secretary that they were looking for a Black grandmother-type, Bentia called me to come up to the church for this interview and the rest is history. See how God works, I thought I was going to be in a documentary. I first learned that it was a movie when my little cousin showed me the trailer, he told me that it was coming out on that Friday on Amazon Prime. I don't have Amazon Prime so it was a week before I saw the movie.
Bleeding Cool: You are one of the very few people who have ever appeared in Sacha Baron Cohen's work to stand up to his characters, first with patience but then also challenging him on the offensive and nonsensical things his characters say. Can I ask where you found the fortitude, grace and spirit to do all this on camera?
Jeanise Jones: This was the first time I had ever seen or heard of Borat. I thought that I was helping a teenage girl, that she was beautiful and she didn't need all those surgeries to make her beautiful – she was already beautiful as she was.
Bleeding Cool: The scene that has caused the most celebration online was when you talked to the actress playing the daughter about her choices in life. What was it you were asked to do?
Jeanise Jones: I was asked to talk to her about what her father wanted her to do
Bleeding Cool: When and how did you find out that you were in the Borat movie, what was your reaction to the news and to seeing yourself on screen?
Jeanise Jones: I found out day before it came out. I first learned that it was a movie when my little cousin showed me the trailer, he told me that it was coming out on that Friday on Amazon Prime. I don't have Amazon Prime so it was a week before I saw the movie. When I finally saw the movie, all I could see how fat I am.
Bleeding Cool: If there's anything you could say to Sacha Baron Cohen right now, what would it be?
Jeanise Jones: All I would say to Sacha Baron Cohen is that you got me.
I'm not sure that's entirely true, Jeanise, I think you got him – and his audience – in a way he could not have expected. As a result of her experience, facing her own financial troubles, her local pastor from the church that Cohen approached, Derrick Scobey, set up a Go Fund Me appeal. Jeanise asked me to "please also add a special Thank you for setting up Go Me Fund and to all who gave. Give God the Glory". The appeal has reached almost $180,000, and Sacha Baron Cohen himself donated another $100,000 , but at Jeanise Jones's request, the money from Baron Cohen will not go to Jones but will be donated to her Oklahoma City community allocated to shelter, food and any other needs by the Ebenezer Baptist Church. On the GoFundMe page, Pastor Scobey says;
Jeanise Jones is a Mother(3), Grandmother (6), faithful church member and just an overall great person who will help anyone. She recently emerged as the "STAR" in the new Borat movie. She was recruited from our church the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Oklahoma City after Producers spoke to me about needing a "Black Grandmother" for a small role in a "documentary." Jeanise emerged as that person and she was completely unaware that this was a comedy, and all of this was made up. We have been praying for the young lady in the movie because we all genuinely thought she was in trouble. The joke is on us/Jeanise and that's no problem. Many of you have reached from around the world to say thank you, so I thought it would be great to give people a vehicle to say thank you in a tangible way, She wasn't paid much money at all for her role in this movie.
This was not scripted for Jeanise. It all came from the heart. She is one of the most authentic people I've ever met. One good thing that has come from this is that Jeanise doesn't have to worry about "Tutar" anymore. She has WORRIED about this young lady for a year. Please consider saying thank you to Jeanise with a tangible gift. She's unemployed right now due to Covid. Previously, she worked on a job for 32 years! She's faithful!
Please consider giving a contribution to simply to say thank you to Jeanise for being "A moral compass and a light shining in darkness" in this movie. I would be remiss if I didn't thank Sacha Cohen Baron and Monica Levinson (Producer) for casting Jeanise in this movie.