TNT to air biopic about brilliant black brain surgeon
It’s no surprise that Dr. Benjamin Carson’s services are in such great demand — he’s long been considered by colleagues to be one of the world’s best pediatric neurosurgeons. But he encountered plenty of hardship on the way to the top.
Carson’s road is detailed in the TNT original movie “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story,” which debuts this Saturday night, Feb. 7, at 8 p.m. Based on Carson’s 1990 autobiography of same name, “Gifted Hands” features Academy Award-winner Cuba Gooding Jr. in the starring role as the good doctor, who overcame many obstacles en route to reaching the pinnacle of his profession.
Carson earned fame for his seminal work in separating twins conjoined at the head. In 1997 he led a 50-member medical team in a 28-hour operation on a pair of 11-month-old Zambian boys. In addition to his work as the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University and Hospital in Baltimore, where he performs more than 300 operations on children each year, Carson also crisscrosses the globe to share his talents with people in developing countries.
He has received numerous accolades during his career, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. A devout Christian and devoted family man, Carson has remained humble amid his success, crediting the Lord for his bounty of blessings.
“Gifted Hands” tells the tale of how Carson and his brother, Curtis (Tajh Bellow), grew up in the slums of Detroit, raised by an overwhelmed, divorced single mom, Sonya, played by NAACP Image Award-winner Kimberly Elise. The boys’ mother juggled numerous jobs, working as a housekeeper and babysitter just to keep a roof over her sons’ heads.
Because she couldn’t read, Sonya Carson wasn’t able to help her sons with their homework. Yet she still emphasized the importance of education, as well as religion, sensing that the combination offered her sons their best chance of avoiding the pitfalls of the ghetto.
Despite his mother’s encouragement, though, young Bennie still fell far behind in grammar school, where he was mercilessly teased and regarded as borderline mentally retarded. His fortunes began to change soon after, thanks to a critical realization — his mother recognized that he needed eyeglasses.
His vision corrected, Bennie began relying on a combination of faith in God and a dedication to hard work. He rededicated himself to academics, determined to show those who had labeled him as dumb that he could set his sights high and become a doctor.
The latest in a series of “Spotlight Presentation” collaborations between TNT and corporate sponsor Johnson and Johnson, “Gifted Hands” is more than a moving tribute to a real-life contemporary African American role model. It’s an inspirational film with a powerful message for impressionable young minds: that with hard work, support and faith, they can overcome any obstacles standing in the way of their dreams.