HBO Takes on 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks'

Oprah is also behind the effort to develop the best-selling book into a movie.

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HBO Films announced today that it has acquired the rights to Rebecca Skloot’s non-fiction best seller The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and will develop a film for HBO based on the book. Oprah Winfrey is among the project's executive producers, and her Harpo Films production company is on board.

The book, says an HBO Films press release, "tells the true story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black mother in Baltimore, whose cancerous cells -- taken without her knowledge -- enabled some of the most significant advances in 20th-century medicine, but with devastating, and later liberating, effects on her family."

The Root interviewed Rebecca Skloot about the book in March. Said Skloot, "I first learned about Henrietta when I was 16. My biology teacher mentioned "HeLa" cells, saying they were one of the most important tools in medicine, then almost as an aside, she said, "They came from a woman named Henrietta Lacks, and she was black." That was the moment I became obsessed with Henrietta. I asked whether her family knew about the cells and what her race had to do with them being alive, but my teacher said no one knew anything else about her."

Read the rest of the interview here.