See Oprah Winfrey in the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Trailer

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Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne unearth buried history in the first trailer for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, HBO’s biopic about the black woman whose cells were harvested without her permission as she lay dying from cancer in 1951, paving the way for such medical breakthroughs as the polio vaccine, in vitro fertilization, and gene mapping.

Winfrey plays Lacks’ daughter Deborah; Byrne portrays Rebecca Skloot, the real-life journalist whose 2010 book inspired the telefilm; and Hamilton‘s Renée Elise Goldsberry plays Lacks in flashback.

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As glimpsed in the trailer, Lacks’ family was kept in the dark about her contribution to medical science for many years, even as her cells helped treat countless people.

As Deborah Lacks tells Skloot in the trailer, “What you don’t understand is, we didn’t know nothing about nothing.”

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks premieres April 22 at 8 p.m. ET on HBO. Watch the trailer above.


For years, that seem like a dream. By my mother can this be true? [SOUND] But you don't understand is, we didn't know nothing, but nothing. [MUSIC] Scientist have been trying to get cells to grow outside the human body. But they would always die, until Henrietta's cells came along. [SOUND] I wanna write a book about your mother. Go healer, go healer. That's my mother. [BLANK_AUDIO] Hope I don't regret this. [MUSIC] Every One saying Henrietta Lacks donated themselves. She didn't donate nothing. They took them and didn't ask. That hospital is guilty and somebody's going to pay. God wanna have a disease cure, he'd provide one for himself. [MUSIC] I don't know Rebecca. I'm not doing anything behind your back. [MUSIC] Henrietta helped develop the AIDS cocktail, chemotherapy treatments [MUSIC] [LAUGH] It's hard not to get caught up in hope when you've been powerless for so long. [MUSIC] I know I am a part of you, and you are a part of me. [MUSIC]
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