BWW Review: Oprah Winfrey & Renee Elise Goldsberry to Star in HBO'S THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS By Rebecca Skloot
THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS by Rebecca Skloot is an amazing true story. It centers around Henrietta Lacks, a poor woman whom scientists experimented on in the 1950s at the Johns Hopkins Hospital "colored" ward. She died when she was only 31 years old, however, through science, she has become immortal. Her cells led to several scientific breakthroughs such as the polio vaccine, and were the first human cells to ever be successfully cloned.
Her cells were termed HeLa, and are part of an immortalized cell line that will never stop reproducing. Her cell line was discovered during a biopsy when she went in for cervical cancer treatment. Unfortunately, Henrietta Lacks and her family never gave permission for the cells to be used, and were never compensated for any of the breakthroughs. They didn't even know about the cell line's existence until the 1970s, when some HeLa cells were contaminated and the family members were contacted in order to be included in further research.The book has won several awards, spent more than 75 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List, was listed as a "Best Book of the Year" when it debuted by more than 60 media outlets, is a favorite among book clubs, and is studied by students across the world. It reads in such a natural way that it even pulls in readers who don't generally read non-fiction because the things this family goes through is so compelling, and the impact Henrietta Lacks has had on the world is so fundamental. The book breaks the science down in a way that's easy to understand and will change the way people view things they've come to take for granted. It perfectly mixes the science of the HeLa Cells with the emotional toil of the Lacks family, combining the two to make the book hard to put down.
This Saturday, April 22nd, at 8 pm EST, HBO will premiere a movie based on Henrietta Lacks and her family's emotional journey, pulling from Skloot's book. Much of Skloot's research came from her time with Henrietta's daughter Deborah, whom she befriended as she researched the family and learned more about the Lacks. Two of Henrietta's sons, Sonny and Zakariyya, were consulted during filming. This movie is anticipated to be very factual and will bring Henrietta, her children, and the injustices practiced in science to light. The movie star Oprah Winfrey as Henrietta's daughter Deborah, Rose Byrne as Rebecca Skloot, and Renée Elise Goldsberry as Henrietta Lacks.
There is so much gray matter in the way scientists and doctors can profit off of patients that can lead to several discussions. This movie will shine an even bigger light on the topic in society than the book did, and you won't want to be caught at the watercooler on Monday without having seen this hot-button movie!