Oprah Winfrey once referred to historical figure Henrietta Lacks as ‘the woman history tried to silence.’ For retribution’s sake, O teamed with HBO to bring Lacks’ remarkable story to life via an April 22-due made-for-TV biopic (as we reported here).
But, less than a month before its air date, members of Lacks’ family are saying Winfrey and co. are dishing them a fate similar to that of Henrietta’s – trying to silence them and taking advantage of their family’s legacy.
Read the jaw-dropping allegations inside:
The executor of Henrietta Lacks’ estate – her son Lawrence Lacks – alleges Oprah Winfrey and HBO’s new film, ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ (and the book its based on), inaccurately portrays his family.
In addition, he’s quoted saying:
“Not only are they making money using my mother’s name – they’re telling people they’re supporting us when they’re not,” said Mr. Lacks. “It’s embarrassing. And when we try to raise money for our foundation or to help our family people say “you don’t need money – you’re rich. Oprah and HBO gave you all that money. Johns Hopkins paid for college.” None of it’s true. And now people ask us for money and not only is bad we can’t help our family – we can’t help others.”
Going on, he said:
“…it feels very racist,” said Mr. Lacks. “If she [Rebecca Skloot, the writer of ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ the book] can present the family as poor and uneducated, she can present herself as spokesperson for the family and make money and promote herself on her lies. It makes a better story if we’re poor and dumb.”
He concludes by saying no publishing company, HBO, nor Oprah herself have given any money to the Lacks estate.
“It’s bad enough Johns Hopkins took advantage of us,” Mr. Lacks said. “Now Oprah, Rebecca and HBO are doing the same thing. They’re no better than the people they say they hate.”
Since Lawrence made the claims above, Crown Publishing has clapped back with an official statement. It reads:
“Rebecca Skloot’s critically acclaimed and prize-winning book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, is a meticulously researched and reported work of independent journalism that we have been proud to publish and that we fully stand by…”