If you have been following along with our series of articles about Oprah’s new movie, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, you have gotten acquainted with a fascinating subject. In our first article, we discussed the movie and gave a brief overview of who Henrietta Lacks was. Oprah discussed her involvement in the film telling Henrietta’s story.
In the second article, we focused on Henrietta Lack’s significant contribution to medical science. We heard from Oprah and Dr. Alondre Nelson.
Now, let’s hear from Oprah Winfrey one more time to talk about how she expects the film to resonate with her audience. We will also share some great ways for you to help Oprah share the story with a wider audience. That’s right. Oprah needs your help to tell the story.
So let’s talk about the movie.
Releasing The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
(As before, Oprah’s answers will be shared in italics to make it easier to read.)
What ultimately do you think people will take away from this film? What do you want people walking away on April 22, when they finish watching on HBO gathered around their coffee table and watching it, what do you want people walking away with?
That’s a really interesting question. I don’t actually have an outcome.
Because I learned when I did the movie Beloved in 1998 there were not a lot of people to go see that movie. I learned then from that experience, do the work. Allow God to work through you with the work. Offer it and however it is received, I feel blessed by what that outcome is. And so some people will touched.
Do the work. Offer it and however it is received, be blessed by what that outcome is.
The story through Debra’s eyes
You know, George Wolfe did such an extraordinary job of telling this story through the eyes of Debra, and you get to know this family. And everybody recognizes themselves when the family is sitting around the kitchen table. When the family’s arguing, when the family is sitting around talking about sweet potato pie and neck bones, everybody recognizes what that means when you haven’t seen your family in a long time and you’re going to eat supper down south.
So there is a familiarity and a resonance that happens that George was able to create in all the actors and everybody who was a part of this team. You come away seeing yourself reflected on screen through the lives of these characters, but also filled with a sense of your own fight, determination, and hope.
So that’s why I have that feeling when I see it, and I think other people will feel the same. We offered it as an artful expression of what it means for Debra.
For Debra it was purely an act of faith. She never stopped believing, going to church – you know her husband was a minister and she preached herself sometimes. But she never stopped believing that God would make a way- that she would come to know who her mother was. And I think you know in the end when she finally passes away before the book comes out, it’s because she has made peace with this story. So I think that everybody will sense that from the film.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks on HBO
How did you end up making the film with HBO?
I knew from the beginning that I was not going to be able to get people to get out from their homes and go to the movies and pay money to see a story about this black woman who has contributed so much to science.
So the perfect partner for me was HBO. HBO isn’t really tv, it’s HBO. And it’s an elevated experience that you get to have in your home.
So the benefit of being able to watch from the comfort of your home, I thought, would allow more people to actually be exposed to the story. So I really appreciate everybody here sharing.
It’s a click. 8 o’clock. April 22nd.
You don’t have to put on your shoes. We don’t know what you’re wearing. You can eat… watch tv… have dinner. You can have friends over.
It’s just a click. And the interesting thing about it, they know every time you click, so I really appreciate the support that I’m getting.
How You Can Support the Movie
As Oprah said, “it’s just a click.” But of course, there’s always a little more you can do. We have a helpful list of simple actions you can take to support the film. We also have a couple of resources you may share too, courtesy of Values Partnerships.
Tweeting and Social Media Shares
It’s easy to tweet about the film and share about it on your other social media profiles. Throughout this series of articles, you’ll notice that there are several prompts where you can click to tweet about the film and the story of Henrietta Lacks. I promise it’s really easy to use!
If you prefer to write your own tweets and social shares, be sure to include the hashtag #HENRIETTALACKS. While you’re at it, why not tag us (@theawesomemuse on all of our social media accounts) so we can see your posts.
Host a Watch Party
Viewing The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks with your friends and loved ones may be a thought-provoking, emotional experience. It will be a great opportunity to relax with your friends while tackling some interesting topics. We would love to hear your thoughts on the film. Be sure to tweet us at @theawesomemuse to let us know you’re watching and what you think.
Something that would be particularly helpful is to email 5 of your friends to tell them about the film. Be sure to ask them to tune in to HBO on April 22nd at 8:00 pm.
Resources you can share with your faith community and other organizations:
If you plan to share about the film with your faith community, you may find these resources helpful. They are PDF files, and can easily be printed and inserted into newsletters and bulletins.
Resources for your book club
If you participate in a book club, and it’s widely considered one of the best books published in 2010, here are some great discussion questions and other resources of interest for your book club.
Thank you for reading about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
In Closing, we’d like to remind you that this is a story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. People who are often ignored by history deserve to have their stories told. Remember, we can be cast down and out, but we’re still standing.
As the lovely Mexican Proverb says, “they tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.”
Thank you for joining us in our study of immortality in the face of oppression. We hope you’ll share these articles with your friends and family to help Oprah spread the word about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.