Adamma and Adanne Ebo question organized religion in their satirical comedy, Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. Regina Hall (Me Time) and Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us) star as Trinitie and Lee-Curtis Childs, the proud leaders of a Southern Baptist megachurch. When a scandal shuts down their operation, Trinitie and Lee-Curtis decide to film a documentary in anticipation of the church’s reopening as they attempt to rebuild and restore their image. The film marks the feature film directorial debut of Adamma, who also serves as the writer-producer.
While the Ebo sisters agree that certain aspects of religion are important to their culture, negative features that require an honest discussion may not always happen when the church prioritizes profits over morals. In conversation with Digital Trends, Adamma and Adanne, a producer on the film, discuss their relationship with organized religion and explain how Hall and Brown fully grasped the concept from the beginning.
Note: This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.
Digital Trends: Organized religion is a polarizing topic for people. Films about religion are usually told from one side and they’re either pro or against. Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. does a little of both. The film supports some ideas from Baptist culture, but it also clearly questions it. After making the film, what is your relationship with organized religion?
Adamma Ebo: Y’all still got a lot of work to do. It used to affect how I felt about my own faith and spirituality, and now it doesn’t. It’s like, “Y’all do you over there.” What I love about it [religion], I will take that and keep it with me and let it influence my life. All the rest of the stuff that I don’t necessarily agree with or that I feel I could be doing better, I’ll let y’all know.
What about you, Adanne?
Adanne Ebo: I think it’s very much the same thing. I think when we first started ideating this concept, I was like, “I’m done with the church. I’m never going to take my kids to church.” And I think now, I’m more in the middle. I’m not so staunchly on one side. I think I will take my kids to church, not every Sunday because I’m not going to be there every Sunday, but because it’s so much a part of black culture.
Even in the way I speak, in the way that I move, it’s so much a part of us. And it’s such a familial thing for people in black culture that I don’t want my children not to have it. I’m going to do like my parents did and make sure that y’all are asking questions and thinking critically, but I’m not hardline against it anymore.
Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown are so talented. Did you give them particular pastors or first ladies to look at in preparation for these roles?
Adamma: Not really. I think mostly because they were both raised super Christian. Regina is from Georgia and Sterling is from St. Louis so they got it immediately. Regina did start to do her own research into first ladies, mostly about how they present themselves when they’re in front of the church. It was mostly about how these two characters are in relationship to each other that we really dug into.
Regina is already a comedic genius, but I think people will like Sterling’s comedic work especially since, as you said, we’re so used to seeing him cry. Was there a moment during the rehearsal process when you knew he could do this?
Adanne: I think it came before the rehearsal process. Definitely in the table read, I was like, “This is it.” We knew we had found our Lee-Curtis before the table read, of course. But to see it live and in person, and to see their chemistry together, I was like, “This is it.”
Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. is in theaters and streaming to Peacock on September 2, 2022.