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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2017)

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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.


George C. Wolfe


Rebecca Skloot (based on the book written by), Peter Landesman (screenplay by) | 2 more credits »
4,206 ( 255)
Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 2 wins & 20 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Renée Elise Goldsberry ... Henrietta Lacks
Sylvia Grace Crim ... Mary Kubick
Reed Birney ... Dr. George Gey
Karen Wheeling Reynolds Karen Wheeling Reynolds ... Mrs. Margaret Gey (as Karen Reynolds)
John C. Vennema ... Board Administrator
Chasiti Ferrell Chasiti Ferrell ... Baby Deborah
Chelsea Ferrell Chelsea Ferrell ... Baby Deborah
Rose Byrne ... Rebecca Skloot
Ruben Santiago-Hudson ... Dr. Roland Pattillo
Oprah Winfrey ... Deborah Lacks
Jaedon Godley Jaedon Godley ... Davon
Rocky Carroll ... Sonny Lacks
John Douglas Thompson ... Lawrence Lacks
Roger Robinson ... Day Lacks
Adriane Lenox ... Barbara Lacks


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.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Discover What You Are Made Of See more »



Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

22 April 2017 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks See more »

Filming Locations:

Baltimore, Maryland, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Based on the book of the same name, by journalist Rebecca Skloot. She was allowed unprecedented access to the Lacks' family in order to write the book. See more »


Featured in 75th Golden Globe Awards (2018) See more »


Motherless Children
Written by Blind Willie Johnson
Performed by Autumn Rainey
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User Reviews

For me, the family became real
15 November 2017 | by MEManganSee all my reviews

I'm a scientist who had used HeLa cells in my work in the past. I remember that proposal in Science about the cells deserving another species designation--and being dismayed by that myself. And watching the daughter character react to that provided a new perspective for me.

The book was very well done and informative. It provided important awareness for those of us in science about the data we are using and about who provided it. Of course, there were many more details that can't be conveyed in a such a short retelling on film, but I thought it captured the key points very well. And it brought the family to vivid reality in a way the book text cannot. I am really glad to have been able to witness the portrayal of their feelings and reactions to this situation.

It's a worthwhile film on an important topic that people should see and think about. And you should think about it before you submit your DNA to just any research or company that comes along. There may be times when that's the right thing to do--but do consider the implications.

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