Skip to main content

Watch the first trailer for HBO’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Watch the first trailer for HBO’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks


The film premieres on April 22nd

Share this story

If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

HBO has released the first teaser for its upcoming film The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

The story of Henrietta Lacks was documented in Rebecca Skloot’s 2010 book of the same title, which explores the story behind Henrietta Lacks and the immortal cell line that is derived from samples taken from her. Directed by George C. Wolfe, the film stars Oprah Winfrey as Henrietta Lack’s daughter, Deborah, Renée Elise Goldsberry as Henrietta Lacks, and Rose Byrne as Rebecca Skloot.

In 1951, Lacks had a biopsy taken from her cervix after giving birth. During treatment of a malignant epidermoid carcinoma, her doctors took two samples — one of cancerous cells, and the other healthy — without her knowledge. The cancerous cells became the basis of an immortal cell line known as HeLa, which have been used across the world for medical research. Lacks died at the age of 31 in 1951, but it wasn’t until decades later that her children and other family members became aware of the use of her cells.

Skloot’s book earned considerable acclaim for exploring the story behind the HeLa immortal cell line, but also the ethics behind medical research and the racial impact that it had on the Lacks family.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks will be released on April 22nd on HBO.