Christmas is the giving season, and one person who gave back in a big way this year was Sacha Baron Cohen. Following the premiere of the comedian’s blockbuster comedy “Borat Subsequent Movie Film” in late October, the internet rallied around Jeanise Jones, an unknowing participant in the film who is hired as a babysitter for Maria Bakalova’s Tutar. Jones’ virtuous personality made her a breakout star and the recipient of over $100,000 via a crowdfunding campaign that went viral after word got out that Jones was not properly compensated for starring in “Borat 2.” Baron Cohen himself made an additional $100,000 donation to Jones, the specifics of which he detailed for the first time in a Guild interview this month with IndieWire’s own Eric Kohn.
“I think this has been the hardest year in living memory for most people,” Baron Cohen said. “Jeanise is this incredible figure in the movie. She helps Tutar find her own beauty and helps her stand up for herself and value her independence as a woman. I heard they were doing a crowdfunding for her afterwards. I called her up and I wanted to help in some way. I said, ‘What’s important to you? Is there some way I can help?'”
Baron Cohen continued, “At the time there was a natural disaster in Oklahoma and they were struggling to house and feed a lot of members of her community. It was the least I could do really. By the way, her pastor was saying this woman Jeanise had spent all her time helping others in the community. He virtually took us around the church and they were housing and feeding a lot of people who were struggling. What else can you do?”
The $100,000 donation Baron Cohen made to Jeanise Jones went directly to helping her community members overcome a string of recent natural disasters, including ice storms that caused power outages. The original crowdfunding campaign was organized by Pastor Derrick Scobey of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, who reacted to Baron Cohen’s donation earlier this year: “I was blown away but not surprised because I was told about what type of heart this man has. Maybe it’s a little risqué, some of the things in the movie, but he has a good heart.”
“Borat Subsequent Movie Film” is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.