The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Synopsis: An African-American woman becomes an unwitting pioneer for medical breakthroughs when her cells are used to create the first immortal human cell line in the early 1950s.
Director(s): George C. Wolfe
Production: HBO Films
  Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 win & 17 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
93 min

I'm not sure exactly how much he told you

about what I'm trying to do.

Just that you was gonna ask me some questions

about my mama's cells.

Yes, yes, well, um,

uh, I want to write a book about your mother.

And while there's all this stuff

about her cells,

it always struck me

that nobody ever wrote about her or her life,

and that's why I've been

trying to track you down

and your family down to see if you would be

interested in working with me,

and just telling me, um, more about...

About her.

Well, all I gotta say

about that is, hallelujah!

Finally, somebody want to talk about my mama.

Because back when I was a child,

old folks, they didn't talk

about nobody who wasn't alive,

so my whole life,

I grew up not knowing one thing,

not even the littlest things,

like what was her favorite color,

or... Or what happened to her clothes,

her shoes?

Now, I know about that watch and ring

'cause they got stolen

by the time my brother killed that boy.

What exactly did her cells do?

Girl, you better get yourself ready,

'cause this story

is crazy enough for three books.

I'm ready, I'm ready.

Bet you didn't know my mother's sister

converted herself to Puerto Rican.

And that state hospital, "the hospital

for crazy Negroes" they used to call it,

we are not skipping over that part.

Plus all the things

I've been dying to know, really,

but don't 'cause she died

when I was so young.

Like, did she... Did she breastfeed me?

Did she... Did she love to dance?

No, it's... I'm...

It sounds like

we really want to do similar things here.

- Mmm-hmm.

- I live in Pittsburgh

and I don't have a publisher yet,

but I'm committed and determined...

- Grandmama, mail!

- Oh, my God!

I can't talk to you now.

Mail. Gotta go.

Now listen, uh, you can call me

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Rebecca Skloot

Rebecca L. Skloot (born September 19, 1972) is a freelance science writer who specializes in science and medicine. Her first book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010), was one of the best-selling new books of 2010, staying on The New York Times Bestseller list for over 6 years and eventually reaching #1. It was made into a movie by George C. Wolfe, which premiered on HBO on April 22, 2017 and starred Rose Byrne as Skloot. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 26 Jan. 2021. <>.

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