Interview: Nicole Beharie Talks ‘Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul’

The feature hits theaters and is available for streaming on Peacock come September 2.


Riding on the recent critical acclaim for Breaking, Nicole Beharie can also be seen in the highly anticipated satirical comedy Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. Beharie plays Shakura Sumpter, who along with husband Keon (Conphidance) serve as rival pastors to Trinitie (Regina Hall) and Lee-Curtis Childs (Sterling K. Brown). Full Q&A along with the video/podcuast versions of the Beharie chat is featured in this post.

Conphidance and Nicole Beharie star as Keon and Shakura Sumpter in HONK FOR JESUS. SAVE YOUR SOUL., a Focus Features release. Credit: Steve Swisher / © 2021 Pinky Promise LLC

Penned and directed by Adamma Ebo (and produced by sister Adanne Ebo), Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul centers on Lee-Curtis Childs (Sterling K. Brown) and Trinitie Childs (Regina Hall), a power couple who once spearheaded a successful Southern Baptist Mega Church. Scandal has rocked their union and their empired, and now rival co-pastors Shakura Sumpter (Nicole Beharie) and Keon Sumpter (Conphidance) have reaped the benefits from their fall from grace.

Nicole Beharie stars as Shakura Sumpter in HONK FOR JESUS. SAVE YOUR SOUL., a Focus Features release. Credit: Steve Swisher / © 2021 Pinky Promise LLC

Buoyed by powerhouse and locked in performances from Brown and Hall, Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul is a first rate debut from Adamma Ebo. I would have loved more scenes involving Beharie and Conphidance’s characters, but that is a minor quibble. The feature hits theaters and streams on Peacock September 2.

Right off the bat, what is it like to have two first rate films (Breaking, Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul) at this time?

Nicole Beharie: Wow. It’s cool. It’s just amazing. I feel really blessed. It feels like a really special moment right now, so thank you for saying that.

The audio version of this interview is up on CinemAddicts:

Did you do a lot of research for this project? Did you immerse yourself into this world before production started?

Nicole Beharie: Somewhat. There wasn’t a lot of in person services happening but I was able to attend some virtual services. And then I had a lot of conversations with Adamma, the writer and director, about the way that the character should be leaning.

I found some examples online and I attended virtual service. And then growing up, I did attend Church in the South here and there – a Mega Church or two. But I can’t necessarily speak to what happened behind the scenes being exactly what we’re depicting.

But yeah, I have a little bit of a relationship with that. I do want to say this – I think we all have this love/hate relationship with leadership and inspiration whether it’s the Church or life coaches. These people who show this perfect mask or facade. I’m really fascinated about seeing what’s behind that. I think (this movie) does that really well with a little bit of fun so that it is not too painful and not on the nose, if that makes sense.

What was it like for you to collaborate with the Ebo sisters, especially seeing how far they are going to go with their respective careers?

Nicole Beharie: I think that they’re going to take over. If this is a first feature, what’s next, you know?

My final question before I let you go is a hard one: can you name one of your all-time favorite films and what is it about this movie that resonates with you?

Nicole Beharie: Right now, the first thing that’s coming up is Mirror. It’s Tarkovsky.

Wow. So what is it about Andrei Tarkovsky and Mirror? That’s amazing.

Nicole Beharie: I know he’s like whaaatt? (laughs) I love the stillness. I love the smoke. He works with a number of textures in every frame. It’s like natural elements – smoke, water – it’s something I feel like filmmaking, when people think about the frame like that . . . Story too, but it’s all the aspects of art. Sound. I love it.

Is there a key for you, as an actor, with staying in the moment?

Nicole Beharie: Staying in the moment? Now is all we’ve got. The next moment is not promised. I try to be here and now and I think especially with acting with wonderful people, you kind of relish what they are doing.

Some of it is just listening and reacting to these fantastic people I get to be on the screen with.

Thanks Nicole for your time and props to that Tarkovsky shout out!

Nicole Beharie: Oh you’re so funny (laughs). That does not match with Honk for Jesus, but you know, it is what it is. Pleasure!

Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul hits theaters and is available for streaming on Peacock come September 2.

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