Jeanise Jones unwittingly featured in Borat 2 as a babysitter for Tutar, the fifteen-year-old daughter of Borat. After the release of the movie, Jones revealed she had not been aware of the nature of the project she had participated in, and had not been compensated properly for her role. Supporters mounted a crowdfunding campaign to give money to Jones. In an interview with IndieWire, Sacha Baron Cohen, who played Borat, revealed how the $100,000 dollars he donated to the campaign helped Jones and her community.
"I think this has been the hardest year in living memory for most people. Jeanise Jones 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?' 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 Borat mockumentary movies are often praised for holding up an uncomfortable mirror to society, where wealthy and powerful people unwittingly expose their deeply-held prejudices and callousness. But not all the people who unknowingly take part in Borat's adventures are bad. In Jones' case, she revealed that she had genuinely thought that Tutar was a destitute child from an impoverished nation, who needed mental and spiritual help in order to stand up for herself.
"I'm feeling like [Tutar is] from the Third World and that kind of stuff does happen where they sell women. I'm thinking this is for real so I felt kind of betrayed by it. They told me it was a documentary for this young lady to understand she has rights and she can do whatever a man can do. I felt pain for her and tried [to see] if there's any way we can get through to her that she doesn't need to do all that. We were concerned. We were up there praying for her and asking God to help her and we were doing what we thought was the Christian thing to do. I was just kind of shocked and that it was that kind of movie."
Even when Sacha Baron Cohen donated the $100K to Jones' crowdfund campaign, some accused him of only doing so to protect his image after failing to compensate her properly while making Borat 2. But Pastor Derrick Scobey, who kickstarted the campaign in the first place, expressed gratitude to the actor.
"I was blown away [by Cohen's donation] 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."
This news arrives courtesy of IndieWire.