Renée Elise Goldsberry Set to Play Henrietta Lacks in Upcoming HBO Film.

Henrietta Lacks

After exiting the hit Broadway play “Hamilton” star Renée Elise Goldsberry has already been securing some pretty major roles. Goldsberry has been cast to star, alongside Oprah, in the upcoming film about the life of Henrietta Lacks.

The project is based on Rebecca Skloot’s bestselling book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance.

Similar to Skloot’s nonfiction work, the planned HBO project will play from the perspective of Lacks’ daughter Deborah, played by Oprah. The movie will focus on the “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.” Odds are that we’ll be seeing Goldsberry in flashbacks.

The film is described as a “passion project” for Oprah, who optioned Skloot’s book in 2010. It will be produced by the Winfrey’s HARPO Films. Lacks’ sons s Zakariyya Rahman and David Lacks and her granddaughter Jeri Lacks will serve as consultants on the project.