Jeanise Jones, who was tricked into appearing in Sacha Baron Cohen’s new Borat movie, made the news earlier this week when an article from the New York Post reported that she felt “betrayed” by the film, but now she’s making some clarifications in a new interview with Variety. The Oklahoma City–based Jones has a substantial role in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, in which (spoiler alert) Baron Cohen’s character brings his daughter Tutar (played by Maria Bakalova) to Jones to babysit. Jones plays an important role, encouraging the supposedly underage Tutar to embrace her beauty and live an independent life free of her literal ball and chain, and she has the rare honor of being one of the few Baron Cohen victims to come out of the whole thing looking great and not like an idiot.
The 62-year-old Jones told both the Post and Variety that she landed the part after the production team went to her church looking for “elderly Black women” to participate in a documentary, which was being made to help Tutar, who Jones thought was a real person the whole time, “understand she has rights and she can do whatever a man can do.” Jones filmed some scenes in Oklahoma and others in Washington state, and she was paid $3,600 total. She didn’t discover that the documentary was fake until a relative showed her the Borat trailer. “I’m feeling like she’s from the Third World and that kind of stuff does happen where they sell women,” Jones reportedly told the Post. “I’m thinking this is for real so I felt kind of betrayed by it.”
While speaking to Variety, however, Jones said that the Post didn’t accurately reflect what she said. “I saw that comment, and I had to let them know that I never felt betrayed. What I said was that I didn’t know it was a movie or an R-rated movie. ‘Betrayed’ never came out of my mouth,’” 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.” Elsewhere in the interview, Jones was asked about how calm she remained despite how bizarre Tutar and Borat were, and she had a great response. “My patience comes from God,” she said. “I was trying to give the best advice I know. And as a young lady, you don’t need all the features that she said her dad wanted her to do. There was nothing wrong with her. I was trying to let her know that she was pretty.”
While Jones hasn’t watched the movie yet — she told Variety she will “eventually” — she agreed that Bakalova deserves an Oscar for playing Tutar so convincingly: “Yes, she was good. She had me good and fooled. She’s a darn good actress. She played her part very well.” She also told Variety that she thinks being paid $3,600 for such a substantial movie role isn’t fair, but at the same time, she said, “I blame myself for not reading when I signed those papers.” Thankfully for Jones, her pastor set up a GoFundMe for her earlier this week that’s already raked in over $50,000.