By Sandra Rose  | 

Oprah Winfrey attended the New York premiere of her executive produced HBO documentary, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, on Tuesday. The documentary tells the story of Henrietta Lacks' unique "immortal" cancer cells that were used in the testing and research for many medical breakthroughs.

Oprah, who plays Lacks' daughter, Deborah, said the role left her feeling "intimidated".

“This story is about a daughter’s yearning,” said Oprah, 63. “Her longing to know who she is and to find her own identity through the identity of her mother. If she can figure out who her mother is, she will know who she is. She can find herself through that.”

“It’s rare that I feel intimidated, but I felt intimidated,” she added.

Deborah was a baby when her mother died of cervical cancer in 1951 at age 31. A doctor noticed the unique ability of Henrietta's cervical cancer cells to replicate faster and live longer than other cancer cells.

All cancer cells replicate rapidly. But Henrietta's cancer cells lived a few days longer than normal.

The doctor grew the cells in a lab and sent the cells to other scientists to be used in their tests. He named the new line of cells HeLa cells -- using the first two letters in Henrietta's first and last names.

Eventually scientists grew 20 tons of Henrietta's cancer cells.

Photos by Shannon Stapleton / Reuters / Splash | Johns PKI/Splash News

  • LibraGirlonly

    I'm so glad Oprah brought this story to film so everyone can see that without melanated people their would be no other people.

  • Mel

    Never heard of this but I'm curious so I'll hit google

  • 2brefrank

    A powerful story. I did learn about this on so auntie aint ALLLLL mess. lol

    Oprah is blessed to have the platform she has. To be intimidated is good--I think it's keeps you humble and focused.

  • Lisa daniels

    But they will still call us apes in heels and some of our fellows(Tyrese) will still say we are hos and sluts even though research has show we are the key to life and evolution of the human race. Just think if we go extinct, they do too.

  • Libra80sBaby

    I'm currently reading this book and cant wait for the movie to drop. I loves me some Oprah

  • hottlanta

    I have the book in my collection and I will re-read again. The family finally got paid by Johnson & Johnson after they lied to them all those years. Glad to see Oprah continue to tell our stories because ain't no one else gonna do it. That is why she continues to be blessed.

  • LibraGirlonly

    THIS is why all so called black people should research their history!! ALl of it starting from the beginning. They use our symbols and lie about how civilization started. They tell the stories on the History I mean mystery channel but they make the people white in the story when they are black people.

  • LibraGirlonly

    We are the first the Omega. Heaven is the black womens vagina. . WE FOLLOw their traditions not knowing we are worshiping saten.

  • Anunnaki

    I don't pay Whity no mind, kill,steal and destroy, no other mission on Earth for them NONE

  • Anunnaki


  • Lisa daniels

    I know this and some of them do as well. Why do you think they are so obssessd with us. They need us but what us to think we need them. Remember the dark ages.

  • LibraGirlonly

    I saw a program about the first inhabitants of the Islands and I was like bout time until I saw the people were not black. I just SMDH how in the heck??? We were on all Continents first because we were here first so what happened? Did we disappear and come back only for slavery? Lol

  • LibraGirlonly

    Chile some of them truly believe their hype is real. Like they created something. SMDH you should read their font on yahoo talking about us and how we are animals. It's strange that they don't know they have Neanderthal DNA and what that means.

  • Lisa daniels

    I stay away from yahoo. They are truly sick and they also one of the reasons, I don't donate blood and will never donate my organs

  • stav

    Last sentence , I totally agree with, following the world's traditions would be idolatrous, worshipping false gods, spiritism , etc.

  • Anunnaki

    it the minds of Whitty YES. they are fcking delusional

  • NYTimes#1Bestseller

    I LOVE Oprah!!

  • LibraGirlonly

    I called and took my name off the donors list a few yrs ago and told them to confirmation.

  • Lisa daniels

    Never been on a donors list. People should accept that death is a fact of life

  • Julia Lyons

    While I don't agree with the sneaky way the science went about obtaining and growing her cells, she was a walking miracle. Her cells have helped so many of us...regardless of race. We have benefitted from the fact that Henrietta Lacks lived and died. Black people are the most studied people on Earth because of our unique genetic makeup. What a Blessing and I am grateful that this doctor recognized the uniqueness of her cells before her body turned to complete dust. She changed the world!

  • Yen Chantress

    These "Immortal"cells are not exclusive! People should visit libraries and investigate the data in old archives, concerning the practicing of medicine and genetic coding. There was a time when bells were strewn from the inside of coffins and staked outside of burial sites. Death is not what they tell you. I would suggest anyone interested about the foundations of the medical field to read "Medical Apartheid".

  • Ladyvil

    All I see are freemason duality colors blk an white an uncapped pyramids.....Oprah = Evil!


  • LibraGirlonly

    No your history see how she spotted the symbols. The freemasons stole the knowledge from Ancient Kemet (Egypt)

  • LibraGirlonly

    We have the genetic code of life.

  • Julia Lyons



    Oprah looks phenomenal!

  • Genia W-m

    As if Oprah named herself. Those are her initials. People who think everything is sinister most definitely can't call themselves Christians.

  • Genia W-m

    In the US, drs had tried to grow cells in that type of environment 10 yrs before Lacks' death with no success.

  • Ladyvil those who don't see the evils of the world an scripture being fulfilled is SURELY NOT one of the 'elect!'

  • Maxima

    Of course the film will probably focus on the science of the genes and not the fact that the woman died due to poor health care which was the only care available to a black woman at that time (hell, even now). The medical industry has profited off this poor woman's tissue and her family has not received a dime! The medical industry is a diehard bastion of apartheid. WTF are we celebrating here? Do you think the jews would celebrate the "incredible immortal milstein or silverstein" genes harvested by nazi doctors? FOH!! The medical industry is geared to destroy black folk.

  • Tynamight

    Spike Lee's wife is purty. I have one of their children's books w/ black characters. Real cute.

  • SandraRose

    Thanks hun.

  • Yen Chantress

    She was/is not the only being with cells as such....Regardless of your statement.??

  • Yen Chantress

    I did some research and investigating, concerning her medical history/Loretta Pleasant. When I learned her named was changed, I then knew that "Fish" was rotting...Most are so spoon fed, they never ask enough questions.?

  • Yen Chantress

    Once again, these type of cells are not exclusive to Loretta....