For many, Maria Bakalova was the breakout star of Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat sequel, and her scenes with babysitter Jeanise Jones were a big highlight.
As Borat's daughter Tutar, Bakalova spent a short while filming with Jones, who quickly become one of the most beloved real-life people to appear in the film. Jones is one of the few people featured who doesn't paint themselves in a negative light, and was hired to babysit Tutar. The 62-year-old later revealed that initially she believed it was a documentary, not a comedy, and even told her church to pray for Tutar since she was so concerned for her well-being. Cohen donated $100,000 to a GoFundMe campaign launched for Jones after it was revealed she only earned $3,600 for her participation. (The fundraiser hit $184,000.
Now Bakalova has revealed in a Los Angeles Times profile that she has since been in contact with Jones as well.
"Jeanise is a true angel. I will probably always think of her as my godmother, a real hero and life coach," explained Bakalova. In the film, Jones gives Tutar advice on her to stand up for herself in a misogynist society, and explains to her that she doesn't need to seek the approval of men. "She just wanted to help this girl become a strong woman. We had a real human connection from the very first day we met," Bakalova said.
She even spoke with Jones on Thanksgiving this year, which Bakalova said was personally her first in America. "I was so happy to talk to her that I started to cry," she said. "When we were shooting, it was very hard for me, because I wanted to tell her not to worry about me. She is a really good example of how important it is to be a good person and care about others."
Elsewhere in the interview, Bakalova also remarked that she took somewhat of a method acting approach when working on the film and would sometimes confuse herself with Tutar in a similiar way to how Cohen would with Borat. "One of the things that really appealed to me about the movie was its message, that we have to treat everyone equally regardless of their nationality, race, gender and sexuality," she added.
Read the full Los Angeles Times profile here.