Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul: Nicole Beharie on Playing Against Type

When Nicole Beharie read the script for Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul, it provided a rare opportunity to flex her comedic chops as Shakura Sumpter, a co-pastor, along with Keon Sumpter (Conphidance) in the satirical comedy. The film follows Trinitie Childs (Regina Hall), the proud first lady of a Southern Baptist megachurch, who, together with her husband Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs (Sterling K. Brown), once served a congregation in the tens of thousands. But after a scandal forces their church to temporarily close, Trinitie and Lee-Curtis must reopen their church and rebuild their congregation to make the biggest comeback that commodified religion has ever seen. Beharie spoke to Bleeding Cool about her co-stars, research, and what she found out about evangelicalism during the pandemic.

Honk for Jesus. Save Our Soul: Nicole Beharie on Playing Against Type
Nicole Beharie in HONK FOR JESUS. SAVE YOUR SOUL., (2022)
Credit: Steve Swisher / © 2021 Pinky Promise LLC / Focus Features

Bleeding Cool: What inspired you to take on the role in 'Honk for Jesus: Save Our Soul?'
Beharie: This was really a risky story to tell, and the script was incredible. When I found out Regina Hall and Sterling K Brown were doing this, I was like, "There's no question whatsoever. I want to be a part of this." It's also a little bit of a departure for me as far as tone. I do a lot of like dramatic stuff, so this was fun.

Honk for Jesus. Save Our Soul: Nicole Beharie on Playing Against Type
Conphidance and Nicole Beharie in HONK FOR JESUS. SAVE YOUR SOUL (2022)
Credit: Steve Swisher / © 2021 Pinky Promise LLC / Focus Features

Did you do any research as far as the subject matter with the evangelical aspects of the film?
I went to a bunch of virtual church [laughs]. I wanted to find out what the model was for this new way of pastoring. I'm a co-pastor with my husband in this particular story, and I wanted to see like, "Who is this based off of? Who's working in this dynamic?" I found it seems to be the way churches are growing now. A lot of them are building their platform in that way: A man and a woman co-pastor, which in the past was very similar to the other church where the woman was behind as a first lady. I was researching via a virtual church because we were also in the pandemic, and so there weren't a lot of services actually happening.

Honk for Jesus. Save Our Soul: Nicole Beharie on Playing Against Type
Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown in HONK FOR JESUS. SAVE YOUR SOUL (2022)
Credit: Steve Swisher / © 2021 Pinky Promise LLC / Focus Features

What was the most surprising thing you found about your role?
I honestly did not realize how competitive the business of starting a church is. If you're driving around in America, especially in the South or Midwest, and I've lived in the South quite a bit, you see a church on every corner. I didn't realize how much they're aware of the special events like Easter [and] who's going to get the Easter crowd? I never thought they were looking at the church across the street thinking, "I don't want them to take our congregation away" or "I want to make sure that people come to our church instead of the other church," never in my wildest dreams. I got a little bit of insight and also getting to work with these incredible comedians, who are also incredible actors. Adamma [Ebo], our writer-director, is taking huge risks. It's really interesting.

Honk for Jesus. Save Our Soul: Nicole Beharie on Playing Against Type
Focus Features

Did it feel like a liberating experience itself, departing from what you normally do?
It did, and it was different. Look, I'm only in it for a smidge, but it's just a different part of myself I want to use more. It was a lot of fun because normally I'm kind of heavy lifting, and in this one, I got to just have a little bit of fun.

Produced by Jordan Peele's Monkeypaw Productions and Daniel Kaluuya's 59%, Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul also stars Austin Crute, Devere Rogers, and Avis Marie Barnes. The film comes to theaters and streams on Peacock on September 2nd.

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Tom ChangAbout Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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