Upon the release of Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat Subsequent Moviefilm this October, Jeanise Jones was equal parts shocked and relieved to learn the girl she had been hired to babysit for, as part of what she thought was a documentary, was not a 15-year-old named Tutar steeling herself for plastic surgery, but was in fact Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, who played Borat’s daughter in the film. In an L.A. Times interview published Monday, Bakalova says she has kept in touch with Jones, who lives in Oklahoma, and who she thinks of as a “real hero and a life coach,” for being the rare Borat subject who demonstrates an ounce of kindness or humanity.
“Jeanise is a true angel,” the actress explains. “I will probably always think of her as my godmother, a real hero and life coach. She just wanted to help this girl become a strong woman. We had a real human connection from the very first day we met. I called her on Thanksgiving: It was my first American Thanksgiving and was also my best. I was so happy to talk to her that I started to cry. 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.”