Regina Hall on the hilarity and strength of her character in ‘Honk for Jesus’

Regina Hall
Regina Hall stars as Trinitie Childs in ‘Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.’
Steve Swisher / 2021 Pinky Promise LLC

A megachurch scandal is something you might hear about, but the comebacks often aren’t.

In fact, they’re mainly unheard of. In ‘Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul’ — the first feature from the Ebo sisters — Adamma Ebo wrote, produced and directed, and her identical twin sister, Adanne, also worked closely on the film as a producer.

‘Honk for Jesus’ stars Regina Hall as first lady of a mega Southern Baptist church, Trinitie, alongside her husband, Lee Curtis, played by Sterling K. Brown. When a scandal sends waves through the congregation, the couple tries to win back their followers by doing a documentary, and that’s where some of the satirical hilarity plays out—mostly due to the electric and flamboyant couple at the center of the film. But behind the scenes, or mainly, when cameras are down, there’s a lot more to the story.

Backed by Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions, ‘Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul’ is meant to make you laugh, and with aspects unique only to a Southern Baptist Church, and an amazing chemistry between Hall and Brown, that’s a given. But there’s also much more to what people see.

To dive a little deeper, Regina Hall sat down to discuss the film.

Regina Hall
Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown star as Trinitie and Lee-Curtis Childs in ‘Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.’Steve Swisher / 2021 Pinky Promise LLC

The Ebo sisters said they immediately thought of you for this role. Was that the case for you when you read the script?

Well, I always love when someone thinks of me, it’s very nice to be thought of and it’s nice when someone says that they would love for you to do this. There had been a short, and the young lady in the short was also really great…But no, it’s not like I felt like it was fully like me. But I assume that because there was a comedic element and a dramatic element, they thought of me. And so, I was actually really flattered. And more so, I was happy I liked it.

This film shows a documentary being made, and it’s hilarious. But there are also deeper moments, especially when those cameras are down. Can you talk a little more about why the film’s format allows for that?

I think that because they did it as a documentary—it’s a film within a film—it allowed for them to create a world where you have this couple showing people what they want them to see. They’re also very flamboyant, so you have these characters and who they are to the world, but then you get the backdrop of what this world is—the world of this megachurch, this pastor and first lady. There is so much humor because they can be so big for the documentary camera, but then when that facade drops, you get to see kind of the real things that they wrestle with. You see the depth of the scandal and the weight of the scandal on their relationship. So, there’s a lot of gravity to the situation, but you get to interrupt that with all this levity when they are on camera. Lee Curtis loves to perform and Trinitie is always just trying to paint the perfect picture of their church and their relationship and God. So I think that setup allows for a lot of room to do both—the drama and the comedy.

Regina Hall
Steve Swisher / 2021 Pinky Promise LLC

What can you tell me about your character, Trinitie?

I think she’s very strong, it’s a quiet strength. Obviously, she has patience [since] Lee Curtis is a big personality… but she has a deep devotion to her faith, and her Christianity, and her beliefs. I don’t think it’s easy to be with him, and I think a part of her wants to leave. I also think there’s a part of her that she loves the lifestyle too—she likes sitting in the front row, sitting on the stage and she really likes being a first lady. So she embraces all parts of that job, the good and the bad.

I saw you did your own research on first ladies in the church. Did anything surprise you?

In studying them— just how important what they do is. I don’t think we hear a lot about first ladies and their role in the church or their husbands lives and in the ministry. I just found them fascinating. They were strong, smart and reserved, but certainly not weak, and a lot of what we see in public…their domain is not the public domain. They do all the work behind the scenes and in support of their husband. Tolerance isn’t easy and not just in scandal, but with sharing your husband with the world and sharing your relationship with the congregation and your husband being the person that needs to pray over everyone else. I feel like a lot of them feel their needs come secondary to the church and congregation. It feels like a lot of people are unaware of the sacrifices that they make. So, I don’t know… I found them to be a lot stronger than probably what I had thought about. They’re not often talked about or thought about… It’s just did she stay, or did she leave?

Your comedic and dramatic energy with Sterling K. Brown was so fun to watch as well. Did that happen naturally?

It was great working with Sterling. The way he works, working with him and working off of him was great, and it was natural. I felt like it was so easy. When he was Lee Curtis and I was Trinitie… Adamma would just keep the camera rolling. And we never had to find anything, it just came. We had each other in rehearsal and we talked a lot, so having that week to rehearse and actually genuinely liking each other, we discovered what they have in common and where the magic was.

Regina Hall
Steve Swisher / 2021 Pinky Promise LLC

Overall, what do you hope audiences take away from ‘Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul’?

I do think it will be different for everyone. It’s certainly not to condemn the institution of the church at all, that’s not the purpose of the film. It is about these two people and these two characters, and maybe, the doctrine, and their faith, and their ideology. And maybe that is where we could expand the church…maybe we can evolve what we might describe as sinful behavior. And not just about sexuality, but whoever we ostracize, [we can] grow in compassion because I think when you look into anyone’s lives, we’re all going through something. Obviously, you want [people] to be entertained, but hopefully there’s something in there that’s thought provoking. But, just to know that there’s loving intention—Sterling loves the church, the directors love the church… but there’s also our own individual relationships with God and exploring that and listening to that.

‘Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul’ will be in theaters and streaming on Peacock Friday, Sept. 2.