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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: Another Hidden Figure

#ICYMI The name Henrietta Lacks may not be well-known, but her impact on the medical community is long-lasting. Lacks was a mother of five diagnosed with cervical cancer in the early 1950s. Doctors took samples of her cancer cells without permission before she died, and went on to use them in medical labs for decades. Those cells became the basis for advances in modern medicine like the polio vaccine, chemotherapy and in vitro fertilization

The HBO movie, “The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks,” based on a book of the same name, stars Oprah Winfrey, Rose Byrne and Renee Elise Goldsberry. The three stars joined “CBS This Morning” Tuesday to discuss Lacks’ incredible contribution to science and how her story came to light.

Winfrey plays Lacks’ daughter, Deborah, who goes on a mission to learn about her mother. Byrne portrays reporter and author of the non-fiction book that inspired the film, Rebecca Skloot, while “Hamilton” star Goldsberry portrays Lacks.

Winfrey admitted she was hesitant, at first, to take on the role given her more limited experience as an actress.

But that changed once Winfrey heard Skloot’s tapes of Lacks’ daughter and when actress and singer Audra McDonald told Winfrey that if she ever got a chance to work with director George Wolfe, take it. Wolfe, a Tony Award-winning director and playwright, co-wrote and directed the film.

“I did this because I wanted to work with George and I did this because when I first heard the tapes that Rebecca Skloot, the author of the book, had of Deborah, she had hours and hours of tapes, Deborah actually wanted me to play her,” Winfrey said.

The book was on the NY Times Best Sellers list for 6 weeks. It's a story that everyone should know about. Henrietta Lacks, hidden figure no longer.

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