HBO announces the official launch of "The HeLa Project," a culturally-grounded, multi-media exhibition inspired by the highly anticipated HBO film, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," starring Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne.
Directed by George C. Wolfe, the film is based on Rebecca Skloot's critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller of the same name.
The film tells the true story of Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman whose cells were used to create the first immortal human cell line that ultimately led to unprecedented medical breakthroughs, changing countless lives and the face of medicine forever.
Per HBO, "The HeLa Project" is designed to celebrate Henrietta Lacks, the woman – to give her a voice and to humanize and recognize her. The exhibition features an original portrait by two-time Caldecott Honor Award winning artist Kadir Nelson; a touching, original poem by Saul Williams; and a moving rendition of "Motherless Children Have a Hard Time" by recording artist Jazmine Sullivan. Additional art, curated by Lewis Long of Long Gallery Harlem, which includes works by Derrick Adams, Zoe Buckman, Madeleine Hunt Ehrlich, Doreen Garner, and Tomashi Jackson are included. The product of these elements, plus an educational, sculptural installation about the HeLa cells, all converge in what should be an engaging experience.
The multi-market exhibition will run April 7th – April 9th in SoHo, New York (465 W. Broadway, Fri – Sat, 11am – 7pm, Sun 12pm – 5pm).
"The HeLa Project" will be making additional stops in Atlanta, GA on April 13th – April 16th at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights; and finally in Washington, DC at the National Museum of African American History & Culture.
Directed by George C. Wolfe from a screenplay by Peter Landesman and Alexander Woo and Wolfe, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" debuts on HBO on Saturday, April 22nd. Told through the eyes of her daughter, Deborah Lacks (Winfrey), the film chronicles her search to learn about the mother she never knew and to understand how the unauthorized harvesting of Lacks' cancerous cells in 1951 led to unprecedented medical breakthroughs. It's a story of medical arrogance and triumph, race, poverty and deep friendship between the unlikeliest of people.
Rebecca Skloot's "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," which took more than a decade to research and write, instantly hit the New York Times bestseller list upon publication, and remained there for more than four years. Several members of the Lacks family served as consultants on the film, including Henrietta's children, David Lacks, Jr. and Zakariyya Bari Abdul Rahman, and Henrietta's grandchildren, Jeri Lacks Whye, Alfred Carter, Jr. and LaTonya Carter.