Oprah Winfrey to Star in the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Oprah Winfrey to Star in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

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One of Oprah Winfrey’s many talents outside of running her empire is acting. On Monday it was announced that she will be starring in the HBO Films screen adaption of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Oprah has been involved in the project for quite some time, which is being adapted from the 2010 book of the same name by Rebecca Skloot. She first came on board as an executive producer when the film rights for the film adaption were first acquired in 2010. She will be co-executive producer with Alan Ball, creator of True Blood.

The book and film tell the true story of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman whose cervical cancer cells were harvested without her knowing and used to create the first immortal human cell line back in 1951. So, there’s a miraculous part of this story, as well as an incredibly trying one. Oprah will be playing Henrietta’s daughter, the protagonist, Deborah Lacks.

“She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells — taken without her knowledge in 1951 — became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more,” the site for the book reads. “Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance.”

Some of Henrietta’s family members will be stepping in to serve as consultants on the project, including her sons Zakariyya Rahman and David Lacks, Jr., as well as her granddaughter Jeri Lacksare.

Oprah has already done some significant acting in her career. She was even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in her role in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple. Oprah has also had roles as a supporting actress in Selma and The Butler, and will have a recurring role on the upcoming drama Greenleaf.