Given the script’s unique blend of comedy coupled with the subject matter of a scandal serious enough to warrant the loss of the majority of the Childs’ congregation, striking the right balance for the film was incredibly important to everyone involved.

“We wanted to make sure that these characters never felt like caricatures, even in the slapstick comedy moments because this is very real for these people,” says Adamma. “They are desperate. They're putting on this farce for the camera, and so I think there's a realness that punctuates the film. What is funny are the aspects of these characters and the world around them so because we could make that funny, there was no need to try to make something that is inherently unfunny, funny.”

While Trinitie clearly knows about the allegations against Lee-Curtis, she has made a decision to stay with her husband to help him revitalize their church’s brand and secure the ultimate resurrection on Easter Sunday. Lee-Curtis thinks that the best first step is to hire a young documentarian who can shine a light on how worthy and deserving they are of a second chance. “Trinitie is a bit wary of how this whole thing could go,” says Hall. “I think she's a lot more aware of how they've been received in the community than Lee-Curtis is. But she’s getting ready to put her game face on so that this crew can shoot their life in front of and behind the cameras.”

Despite their disagreements over how to pronounce “amen” or what constitutes a great church hat, this is a couple who clearly enjoy each other. “I think that they are best friends,” shares Hall. “There are pieces of them that work quite well together and then other pieces that don't. Hall says that building this complicated relationship dynamic together was a lot of work, with the duo diving into an exploration of the backstories and subtleties of this couple, but it was also incredibly fun. “Sterling is such a tremendous actor so I think we were really blessed because people will discover that he's really funny,” she says. “We got all his depth and humor, and then we also got the charm that we needed in order to believe that Lee-Curtis is a charming pastor. We got so lucky as there was some compassion that you felt for him. He brought all of these interesting shades of gray.”

And for Brown, the feeling was mutual. “I'm proud to say that Regina and I spent so much time just talking about the nuances of the megachurch, and what it means to be a first lady and a pastor,” he adds. “Regina is incredible and it was my greatest joy of the film to get a chance to spend time with her, observing how her mind works, observing her artistry, collaborating with her, and making a friend.”

Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.

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Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.

September 2, 2022

About the Film
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Director's Statement: Adamma Ebo

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Regina Hall stars as Trinitie Childs.

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Sterling K. Brown stars as Lee-Curtis Childs.

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Nicole Beharie stars as Shakura Sumptor.

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Conphidance stars as Keon Sumptor.

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Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. started its life as a feature film script while writer and director Adamma Ebo was completing her MFA in Directing at UCLA in 2015.

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One of the key evolutions from the original feature script was the inclusion of Shakura and Keon Sumptor - played by Nicole Beharie and Conphidance - the up-and-coming, younger co-pastors of Heaven’s House, where many of the Childs’ congregation now go to worship.

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Some of the most memorable scenes in Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. involve style, music, and dance. Given how important fashion is to Baptist Church culture, the clothes and hats were integral to the story being told, especially given the wealth that the Childs have accumulated from donations and gifts.

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When it came to casting Trinitie’s larger-than-life husband, Lee-Curtis Childs, the journey to find the right actor to portray a charismatic pastor ill at ease with himself, took a slightly more winding path.

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When they asked who Adamma saw in the role of Trinitie Childs, she remembers saying, “a Regina Hall type,” not daring to dream that they would actually land Regina Hall.

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Adamma Ebo [l] and Adanne Ebo

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Given the script’s unique blend of comedy coupled with the subject matter of a scandal serious enough to warrant the loss of the majority of the Childs’ congregation, striking the right balance for the film was incredibly important to everyone involved.