Very nice: Sacha Baron Cohen donates $100,000 to 'Borat' babysitter's church

Nardine Saad
·2 min read
Sacha Baron Cohen's Showtime series "Who Is America?" continues to court controversy.
"Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" star Sacha Baron Cohen. (Evan Agostini / Invision)

Babysitter Jeanise Jones, the unexpected hero and "moral compass" of Sacha Baron Cohen's "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm," has received a big donation from the political satire's star and producer.

Baron Cohen anonymously donated $100,000 to Jones' church on behalf of the Oklahoma City caregiver, who was charged with looking after his character's 15-year-old daughter in the Amazon Prime Video mockumentary, The Times confirmed Friday.

Jones' fans and loved ones, led by her pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, have been fundraising for the now-unemployed babysitter — a mother of three and grandmother to six — since her appearance in the film.

Jones lost her job of 32 years due to the pandemic, and her community has been beset with natural disasters this month. The GoFundMe page set up by her pastor, Derrick Scobey, has raised more than $154,000 for Jones, exceeding the crowdfunding campaign's original goal of $100,000.

A representative for Baron Cohen declined to comment Friday on the donation.

The money, which is to be distributed by Ebenezer Baptist Church at Jones' request, has been earmarked for shelter, food and any other needs in the community.

As such, the contribution is not reflected on the GoFundMe page, which was set up by Scobey this week "to give people a vehicle to say thank you [to Jones] in a tangible way."

Jones, 62, became a breakout star in the sequel when she advised Borat's daughter Tutar, played by 24-year-old actress Maria Bakalova, to learn to love herself, reconsider getting plastic surgery and reassess the "Melania" fairy tale and the lies her father told her while growing up in her home country.

Jones originally thought she was taking part in a documentary about child brides and played a pivotal role in the film's fictional arc. She was paid $3,600 for her two days of work, which aligns with the pay scale for Screen Actors Guild workers.

She told the New York Post she worried and prayed for Tutar and felt "betrayed" (though she partially walked back the latter comment).

In the lead-up to next week's presidential election, and amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has upended the future of movie releases, "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" still managed to garner a significant amount of mainstream interest.

The film has stayed in the headlines thanks to Jones' humanity, Baron Cohen and Bakalova's antics and its high-profile cameos, including President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, Vice President Mike Pence and actor Tom Hanks.

It's unclear how many people watched the sequel to 2006's "Borat," but e-commerce giant Amazon on Tuesday said “tens of millions” of customers streamed the film on Amazon Prime Video during its first weekend of release, though the company did not give specific numbers.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.