Jeanise Jones, 62, thought she had been recruited by her place of worship, Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, in Oklahoma City to mentor a teenager named “Tutar” who came to the U.S. with her father from a developing nation. But Jones didn’t find out until the film was released on Amazon Prime last week that “Tutar” was an actress and the man — whom she believed was the girl’s father — was actually Cohen.
She previously told Variety that she blamed herself for being tricked into doing the movie and not reading her contract close enough. However, she noted that she felt her role in the film, which included a trip from Oklahoma to Washington state, could have received better compensation.
Rev. Derrick Scobey, the church’s senior pastor who started a crowdfunding campaign for Jones, said Cohen made the donation on Wednesday. Scobey added that he and other church members also were not aware of the movie.
Scobey said he wasn’t surprised by the donation, just the amount, noting that the money had been earmarked for community use, The Oklahoman reported. Scobey added that Cohen knew the church is a community hub where people gather for spiritual hope and help.
The movie follows Borat Sagdiyev, portrayed by Cohen, as he returns to America from Kazakhstan, with his daughter portrayed by Maria Bakalova, to offer a “bribe” to American leaders. It is a sequel to “Borat,” which was released in 2006.
After the latest film’s debut, many on Twitter described Jones’ character as the movie’s hero, moral compass and breakout star. But she’s simply relieved that “Tutar” was never in trouble.
“I’m glad to know she’s not really in that situation. I hate to hear of anyone in that situation,” she told Variety when asked what she’d say to the two actors. “Him, I don’t know. It wasn’t real, so I would shake his hand and say, ‘You got me.’”
Jones has not seen the movie but she said one of the film’s producers called to check on her after it was released. Cohen reached out to her on Wednesday, said Jones, who noted the call was “enlightening.”
Scobey started a GoFundMe account for Jones, saying that she believed the scenario was real and that she lost her job as a counseling service receptionist job because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Jones said Thursday that she was surprised to hear $128,000 had already been donated.
“It is amazing. I would never expect nothing like this,” she added. “It’s blowing my mind.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.