It's easy to forget that Oprah Winfrey is an acclaimed actor these days. She only graces our screens every few years, but when she does, we're all the better for it. On April 22, we'll get a chance to see the renowned talk show host flaunt her acting chops in the HBO movie The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks. HBO shared the official teaser trailer for the film, and you're going to need to sit down before you watch it. No, really. The film has the recipe for waterworks: there's a duo linear storyline, a scientific discovery, and a woman looking for her mother's past, all poured atop a historical tale.
The TV movie chronicles the life and times of Henrietta Lacks (Renée Elise Goldberry) and her daughter Deborah Lacks, played by Oprah Winfrey. Henrietta Lacks is one of the few people who can lay claim to immortality — her DNA, referred to as HeLa cells, live on in labs across the world. Lacks died of cervical cancer in 1951, and her cells have been used for scientific research ever since. HeLa cells duplicate quickly and easily, and could survive for longer lengths of time in laboratory conditions. But the ethics surrounding Henrietta Lacks' cells remain muddy, and the racial implications of Lacks' scientific service remain relevant today. In the 2011 bestseller of the same name, Rebecca Skloot wove together the untold narrative of Lacks herself as well as the present narrative of Deborah Lacks, who searched for her mother's story. (Deborah Lacks died in 2009, before the book was published.)
"My whole life what I cared about is knowing about my mother," Winfrey (as Deborah Lacks) says in the trailer. The film also stars Rose Byrne (as Rebecca Skloot), Courtney B. Vance, and Reed Birney. Watch the full trailer, below. In the meantime, if you haven't already, pick up a copy of Skloot's book, The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks.