In a new interview with the Los Angeles Times, the actress -- who played Borat's (Sacha Baron Cohen) 15-year-old daughter in the film -- opened up about her relationship with Tutar's babysitter, Jeanise Jones, calling her a "true angel" and a "real hero."
"I called her on Thanksgiving: It was my first American Thanksgiving and was also my best," said Bakalova, 24. "I was so happy to talk to her that I started to cry."
During the film, Jones is hired by Borat to babysit Bakalova's Tutar and ultimately offers the teen advice on how to stand up for herself. Since Jones believed she was filming a documentary at the time -- and not a satire -- Bakalova said it was difficult for her not to tell Jones the truth.
"When we were shooting, it was very hard for me, because I wanted to tell her not to worry about me," Bakalova explained. "She is a really good example of how important it is to be a good person and care about others."
"Jeanise is a true angel. I will probably always think of her as my godmother, a real hero and life coach," Bakalova continued. "She just wanted to help this girl become a strong woman. We had a real human connection from the very first day we met."
While speaking to Variety back in October, Jones, an Oklahoma City resident, recalled her concern she had for Bakalova at the time as she didn't know the Bulgarian actress had been in character.
"I'm thinking she's really from a third-world [country] and that's how they treat women and young girls," Jones said. "I [suggested they] take her to a school and let her observe girls in a classroom who can read and write just like boys. I was thinking it was real, so my thought was they were going to take her to see different things and make it so she could be able to stay in the United States. Evidently, that's not what happened."
Following the film's release and after it was reported that Jones -- who quickly became a fan-favorite -- lost her job amid the coronavirus pandemic -- viewers launched a GoFundMe fundraiser for Jones, raising over $180,000. Baron Cohen, himself, donated $100,000.