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Adamma Ebo, writer/director, Adanne Ebo, producer, and Nicole Beharie, co-star of Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.

Focus Features releases Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. nationwide on September 2nd, 2022 and on Peacock.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Did you approach the character of Shakura as a comedic role with a dramatic side or as a dramatic role with a comedic side?

Nicole Beharie: I just commit to it in whatever way that the director points me. I think that they create the tone of the world. I was just, sort of, committing to it with a little bit of levity, so I don't know if it's dramatic-comedic or comedic-dramatic--- Potatoes, potahtoes, who knows? I don't know. I just commit to it and then they help me to shape it.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Who do you think is ultimately responsible for opening the window into a character's heart, mind and soul? 

NB: The actors, for sure. Our only job is to show up and try to give a glimpse, if not more, of the character's heart, mind and soul, like you're saying. I'm just in there for a flash, but I hope that I was able to do that.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Between Shakura's heart, mind and soul, which of those three were the most challenging for you to dive into as an actress?

NB: Probably her heart, I would say. Because with her mind, it's very clear what she wants--her ambitions and the way that she's going to go about it. With her soul, she's definitely tied-in, wants to lead, and believes in everything that she says. With the heart bit, there's a scene where Shakura, Keon, Trinitie, Lee-Curtis, are together, and I think that she wants to respect them because she has an admiration for what they've been able to do, but she also has her own belief about what she's supposed to be doing and that she deserves that date, etc. So, her heart is torn, in a way, and then you see her, basically, taking the reigns and saying, "No" to these people who she has respected. I think that her heart is a little bit torn in those moments because, perhaps, she'd like to see both of them win.

NYC MOVIE GURU: If Shakura were to quit her job as a pastor, what kind of profession would you recommend her to have instead that's similar?

NB: I think that she'd be a really good self-help coach. I guess that pastors and self-help coaches in that they're just getting people to be their best self. I feel like she'd be good at something like that or a stage mom, even.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Which film do you think Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul would pair well with like cheese and wine? 

NB: I think that Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. and the darkness of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory would pair well. I think it's similar and really interesting. It's funny and then there's these dark undercurrents. People don't really think about it, but children are disappearing and dying on the way in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It's pretty dark.

NYC MOVIE GURU: What was the process like during the editing process to decide which of the comedic moments worked and which ones didn't work, especially given how subjective comedy is?  

Adamma Ebo: Most of the comedy was already written in. We had a really phenomenal editor who enhanced a lot of the moments or drew out moments that, I think, weren't necessarily scripted.

Adanne Ebo: I think that it was about the performance. The comedy was written in, but it was definitely about whatever look that Regina Hall or Sterling K. Brown gave in a particular take, and we were like, "That's the funniest!"

NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you think Trinitie and Curtis-Lee's true self is like underneath their façade? Do you think they have a façade?

Adanne Ebo: For sure. There's definitely a  façade. I think that their true selves are what you see when the documentary cameras are off. I think that that's the real Trinitie and Curtis-Lee.

Adamma Ebo: Lee-Curtis is a lot of id. I think that even another layer below that, I think they're truest selves are people who they're not super comfortable with, so I don't think that they access that all that much.

NYC MOVIE GURU: How and why did you decide to change the aspect ratio throughout the film? 

Adamma Ebo:  I think that part of it was because the film was written to be in these two different styles with the full documentary format in there. We shot it a specific way, and I think we changed it in post-production with the aspect ratio ended up being. Whenever the "documentary" crew was filming, we wanted our characters to feel trapped, so the screen gets smaller.

NYC MOVIE GURU: What film or show do you think would pair well with Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul in a double feature?  

Adanne Ebo: My answer would be a real documentary called, Weiner, the Anthony Weiner documentary. It's almost the same story and also funny. So, Weiner, for me.

Adamma Ebo: That's a good one! I'm going to say Season Two of Atlanta.

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