It's been over 30 years since Oprah Winfrey earned an Oscar nomination for her acting debut in 1985's The Color Purple. The TV personality's acting career never really progressed much from there, but now she's back with an acclaimed performance in the new HBO film The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The movie is based upon the book of the same name by Rebecca Skloot, and the author wrote the nonfiction account of Lacks' life and legacy way back in 2010. But just where is Rebecca Skloot now, all these years later?
Skloot is a science writer by trade, which explains why she decided to write a book about Lacks. Lacks was a cancer patient in the 1950s whose cancer cells were taken and submitted for research without her knowledge. These cells, now known as the HeLa line, proved to be "immortal" and are still used in research today. However, Lacks' case raised lots of questions about ethics and patient consent, as her' family remained unaware of the research being done on her cells for decades. Following Skloot's work on the Lacks book, which became a New York Times bestseller, the author co-edited the 2011 edition of The Best American Science Writing anthology, which gathers together the best popular science articles published in the given year. But Skloot's main concern these days is writing her next book.
Skloot, who lives in Chicago, has been working on her new book since at least 2012. That's when it was announced that she had reached a deal with Crown Publishing to write it. The book will explore the relationships between humans and animals, using both personal accounts and scientific analysis. As the initial press release states, "[Skloot] will explore, among many other subjects, the neurology of human-animal relationships, human nature and responsibility, and the unexamined ethics of our relationship with animals."
The author is in part drawing from her own history to research her book, since she spent 10 years working in the veterinary field before becoming a writer. She first worked as an animal nurse in both general practitioner and emergency room settings before transitioning to veterinary technician work in morgues and neurology labs. In other words, she knows her stuff when it comes to animals.
Given Skloot's personal experience in the subject, as well as her extensive skills as a researcher (she spent over a decade researching and writing her first book, according to her website), I think it's safe to say that her next book — which remains untitled — will provide invaluable insight into the human-animal connection. And who knows, maybe Oprah will even decide to star in a movie about it when it's all said and done.