HBO Films announced Monday that it has greenlit The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The film will star Oprah Winfrey, and be co-produced by her company, Harpo Films. The project has been long-anticipated, as Harpo acquired the book rights back in 2010.
The story concerns the real-life experiences of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman whose cancerous tumor cells were used to create an immortal cell line for laboratory research, now called the HeLa cell line. Controversy still swirls around the medical ethics behind the issue, as not only did Lacks die from the cancer that afflicted her, but her cells were also taken and cultivated without the knowledge or consent of her or her family. Lacks died at age 31 of uremic poisoning, at which point her cervical cancer had metastasized throughout her body.
Winfrey will play Lacks’ daughter, Deborah, who searches for answers about her mother and the unauthorized sampling of her cancerous tissue, which ultimately led to numerous medical advances.
The film’s release date has not yet been announced.[Variety]