Oprah Winfrey, star of a film made to measure

She can sell a movie like no one else. Especially when she plays a black woman who struggles with her emotions to discover, then reconcile with a painful past loaded with family violence.

She is Oprah Winfrey, the 63-year-old American television superstar, who has become famous by revealing the most intimate stories of her guests in her 25-year-old Oprah Winfrey Show .

His latest film, aired in the United States on HBO and then on OCS on July 16, tells the true and long-known story of Henrietta Lacks, a young Black woman with cancer whose unusual cells, unknowingly collected, Have revolutionized modern medicine.

After Purple Color (1985) or more recently The Butler (2013) and Selma (2014), Oprah Winfrey, the epitome of media success, experienced a new experience as an actress in a film for television.

She plays a role as a glove: she represents Deborah Lacks, the youngest daughter of Henrietta who follows in the footsteps of her late mother, raising the veil on a part not always glorious in the history of medicine but also on a history of Miscarriage, all against a backdrop of racial discrimination in America in the 1950s.

If Oprah Winfrey – who has had her own cable channel, OWN since 2011 – decided to co-produce the film after having read Rebecca Skloot’s bestseller in 2010 , The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks , she long resisted the idea of ​​playing in.

“I was really afraid to play this role,” she said this week during a promotional tour with the director of the film, George Wolfe, best known as a theater director. “I told him,” George, I do not want to make myself ridiculous. ”

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“Normally, I do not like to put myself in situations where I lose control and I do not know what I’m doing,” she acknowledged. “I did not do enough” movies, she says, “my fear is not to be up to the task.”

Deborah Lacks, aka Oprah, goes through a rollercoaster of emotions, as her discoveries unfold: the discovery of the abuses of the doctors of Baltimore, who hid for decades from the family the particularity of the cells of Henrietta , Whose cancerous tumor produced the first cells to be able to be grown in vitro , that is to say outside the human body.

This extraordinary quality has enabled laboratories around the world to develop vaccines – particularly against polio – cancer treatments and some cloning techniques, a billions of dollars industry.

Progress of which Henrietta Lacks, who died of cancer in 1951, at 31 years old, never knew anything and whose family really only learned from the work of Rebecca Skloot.

The kind of story that pleased Oprah Winfrey, a billionaire who became a champion of the cause of black women and the fight against sexual assault, of which she was a victim in her childhood.

An experience that helped her embody the character, even though she feels today “healed of all this past” and does not feel “the rage and anger” that many victims have, and that Deborah An emblematic scene of the film.

Before playing this scene, Oprah called a student from the school she founded in South Africa, who was abused by her aunt and knew she was undergoing therapy. The American actress-actress has done what she can do better than anyone: “I told her,” Tell me about your aunt … ”