We don’t know about you, but come Saturday 22 April, we will be glued to our sofa awaiting the start of HBO’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which like Hidden Figures, will hopefully shine the spotlight on yet another of history’s hidden heroines.
Often hailed as the mother of modern science, many of us have never even heard her name. The HBO drama is based on the critically acclaimed best-selling non-fiction novel The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot, and it stars Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne.
The film tackles the story of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman whose cells were taken without her consent, after she died from cervical cancer in October 1951. The HeLa cells, as they were labelled, are known as “immortal,” meaning they could continue to divide and multiply without dying out, paving the way for breakthroughs in medicine, saving countless lives.
The film is told through the eyes of Henrietta’s daughter, Deborah Lacks, played by Winfrey, and chronicles her search, along with journalist Rebecca Skloot (Byrne), to find out more about the mother she never knew, and to understand how the unauthorized harvesting of Henrietta’s cancerous cells made a lasting impact on medical science, which so few are aware of today.
To see the trailer, click here.
The real Henrietta Lacks – Lacks Family Archive
Still from The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – HBO