INTERVIEW: The Ebo Sisters Explore Religion in ‘Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.’
Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul is a movie about Lee-Curtis Childs (Sterling K. Brown) as he’s trying to reopen his super church alongside his wife, Trinitie Childs (Regina Hall), after a controversy. As the film goes on, we learn more about what Lee-Curtis did and the struggle that Trinitie has faced in staying true to her husband while also trying to keep up the image of a perfect wife. In a mockumentary style, we get to learn more and more about the church, their relationship, and their failing status as a couple and the institution they once had to be.
In preparation for the film, I spoke with the Ebo sisters (Adamma Ebo wrote and directed the film while Adanne Ebo produced it but it is something very personal to the both of them). When asked about the inspiration for the film, Adanne Ebo said that it was inspired by the churches that they went to growing up and the church culture of the early 2000s.
“I think that inspiration was our upbringing,” Adanne Ebo said. “That’s the type of church we grew up going to, um, that was kind of like the, the more prevalent church culture in the early 2000s in Atlanta, Georgia and Metro Atlanta. And so, we were really just drawn from our experiences and what we knew. I don’t think we could even, I don’t even think we really knew people who went to the small churches. So we were like that was just our experience.” Which Adamma Ebo responded with “We were writing what we knew.”
One of the reasons this movie works so well is also thanks to Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown. The duo shines and brings to life the Childs in a way that take you through Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. and keeps you caring about them even when you can see how their demise begun. For the Ebo sisters, they knew they wanted Regina Hall out the gate.
“We knew we wanted Regina,” Adamma Ebo said. “We said a Regina Hall type because we didn’t think that we could get Regina, but we knew that she would be excellent from like the very broad comedy to the deeper dramatic stuff to kind of everything in between. I didn’t write it with Regina in mind, but once it became like more real and Daniel Kaluuya came on, he asked who we envisioned in that role. And immediately we were like, oh, a Regina Hall type. And we got lucky, one of our producers who worked for Daniel’s company knew her agent. And so she was like, we could just slip him the script and if he likes it for her, he’ll give it to her and we’ll see what she thinks. And it ended up working out.”
Adanne Ebo went on to talk about bringing Sterling K. Brown into the project. “With Sterling, it took a longer to find our Lee-Curtis and I think one of our other producers suggested him and we weren’t sure about it because we weren’t sure if he was funny,” she said. “Because we had never seen him do comedy, but then we found out that he actually got nominated for an Emmy for guest star on an episode of Brooklyn 99. And so we watched that episode and it was hilarious. He played a narcissist in it. And we were like, oh, that’s pretty much Lee-Curtis. So from there it was again, I had a friend who knew his manager, got his manager’s information, slipped her the script, she liked it for, gave it to him. And then it was kind of like off from the races for there. We talked to him and we knew that he had a connection to the culture, the church culture that we were talking about as did Regina. And then we got Regina and Sterling on the zoom and the chemistry was like instantaneous. And so we’re like, this is it. This is our combination.”
You can see Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. in theaters and on Peacock now.
(featured image: Focus Features)
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