By and large, the job of Sacha Baron Cohen in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is to dupe people into revealing how terrible they really are. Just ask Rudy Giuliani. But not everyone in the new film comes off as a villain; in fact, audiences loved 62-year-old babysitter Jeanise Jones so much that they’ve raised over
$80,000 for her in a fundraiser set up by her pastor. Update: As of Thursday morning, more than $116,000 has been raised for Jones.
Jones is featured in a segment where she serves as babysitter to Borat’s daughter, Tutar Sagdiyev (Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova). Shocked by the sexist and misogynistic beliefs to which the supposedly teenage girl adheres, Jones does her best to lift the veil on the lies. In one scene, Jones reads Tutar her favorite story about a girl who got swallowed by her own “vagine” because she tried to touch herself. In another, she explains that big boobs won’t help her float.
The calm and empathetic attitude Jones exudes throughout her scenes made her a fan favorite. In a movie filled with people who come off as wackos with no moral compass, she’s a beacon of sanity. However, it wasn’t until recently that she discovered that Bakalova was only playing a part. Jones had spent the last year praying for Tutar, and was relieved to learn it was all an act.
Jones was paid $3,600 for her appearance, but some who were affected by her earnest persona felt she deserved more. In response, her pastor, Derrick Scobey, set up a GoFundMe fundraiser in her honor. “The joke is on us/Jeanise and that’s no problem,” Scobey wrote on the GoFundMe page. “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.”
Thus far, the fundraiser has brought in over $116,000 in donations. That’s not a bad haul for a babysitting gig. It couldn’t come at a better time, either, as Jones lost her job of 32 years due to COVID.
While Jones may have been tricked by Cohen and the Borat team, she (unsurprisingly!) holds no ill will. In an interview with Variety, Jones contradicted a New York Post article that claimed she felt “betrayed” by the filmmakers. “I don’t know where they got that from,” she said. “I’m not ever going to say I was betrayed because it was partially my fault I didn’t read the contracts. I’ll take my responsibility on that.”
She also said she was shocked when she first met Borat and Tutar, but tried to do her best to show understanding. “My patience comes from God. I used to not have any patience at all,” she explained. “But in that kind of situation, you can’t help but have patience because you’re trying to help somebody — at least, that’s what I thought. I was trying to give the best advice I know.”
In the end, she was “glad to know [Tutar] is not really in that situation,” and was actually left impressed by Bakalova’s acting. Cohen has been pumping her up as a potential Oscar contender, and Jones agreed. “Yes, she was good. She had me good and fooled. She’s a darn good actress. She played her part very well.”
This isn’t the only good news to come out of Borat. The real country of Kazakhstan finally embraced Cohen’s creation by making its new tourism slogan, “Very Nice!”