The actress starred in the hit sequel as Tutar, Borat's 15-year-old daughter he tried to offer to Vice President Mike Pence as a bride. Along the way, Borat and Tutar meet Jones, who unknowingly starred in the movie thinking it was a documentary about child brides. Jones quickly stole the hearts of audiences everywhere who praised her for being so kind and supportive of Tutar, a girl she thought was real.
While Jones continued to think Tutar was in trouble for months, she found out when the movie premiered on Amazon Prime Video that it had all been a ruse. Bakalova finally got the chance to talk to Jones out of character over the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Jeanise is a true angel. I will probably always think of her as my godmother, a real hero and life coach,” Bakalova told the Los Angeles Times in a new interview. “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," Bakalova continued. "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.”
Amazon Studios Maria Bakalova and Sacha Baron Cohen in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
After Jones went viral as fans tried to help the grandmother, who had recently lost her job due to the COVID-19 health crisis, Borat creator and star Sacha Baron Cohen chipped in to help her beloved community.
The actor donated $100,000 to Jones' Oklahoma City community on her behalf, PEOPLE learned. The money, to be distributed by the Ebenezer Baptist Church at Jones' request, was earmarked for shelter, food and any other needs the community has.
A GoFundMe her pastor Derrick Scobey organized for Jones also raised over $184,000 for Jones.