Oprah Winfrey to star in HBO Films' 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks'

Oprah's Forgiveness Aha! Moment
Oprah's Forgiveness Aha! Moment

Oprah Winfrey has signed on for a rare leading role.

Winfrey will headline HBO Films' forthcoming project The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the pay cabler announced Monday.

Based on Rebecca Skloot's nonfiction bestseller of the same name, the project tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black woman who died of cervical cancer in 1951. Without her consent, pieces of the tumor that killed her were removed and used for medical exploration and to build a billion-dollar research industry.

The news that Winfrey will headline the film comes six years after she first boarded the project as an executive producer alongside Alan Ball (Six Feet Under, True Blood). The two will exec produce with Peter Macdissi (Banshee), Carla Gardini (The Hundred-Foot Journey) and Lydia Dean Pilcher (You Don't Know Jack). Skloot will co-executive produce the film, which hails from Your Face Goes Here Entertainment, Harpo Films and Cine Mosaic.

See photos of Oprah through the years:

George C. Wolfe (Lackawanna Blues, Angels in America) wrote the screenplay and will direct the film, which begins production this summer.

Additionally, Henrietta Lacks' sons, David Lacks, Jr. and Zakariyya Rahman, and granddaughter Jeri Lackswill serve as consultants.