I just found out recently that Jennifer Lawrence will play Elizabeth Holmes in a movie about Theranos.1 Now, I love Jennifer Lawrence and think she is a tremendous actress, but does a movie about Theranos really need to be made? In reality, we don’t even know how this drama is going to play out, so what could possibly be written up in a script?
The thing about this movie, if it does eventually get made, is that it will be putting the lab on the big screen. As I see it, this can go one of two ways. First, it can be completely inaccurate both on the story of Theranos and the science of laboratory medicine. Second, they can do their research and portray both the story and the science correctly. Unfortunately, based off of every other completely inaccurate medical movie and TV show out there, I’m putting my money on option 1 at the moment. However, I don’t think this is a lost cause.
Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I think that there is a possibility that we, as laboratory professionals, could have an impact on this movie. When cast for a role, some actors will immerse themselves in character’s life and culture to get a better understanding of how to play the role. What if we could reach out via social media to the cast and crew to encourage them to interview real lab professionals to educate them about what working in a lab really entails? What if we invited them to the AACC Lab expo to get a feel for the instrumentation and allowed them to tour actual clinical labs? Would they take us up on the offer?
It may sound like a long shot, but if we have the opportunity, I don’t see why we shouldn’t try. Our voices are powerful, but a collective voice is even louder. Imagine if we could get all of our professional societies to work together to contact the makers of this film. As members of professional societies, we could encourage them to do so.
If helping with the film doesn’t work out, we can always provide our own stories on other potential mainstream outlets. A few years ago, when the movie Contagion2 came out, the Dr. Oz show had an episode discussing the real people behind Contagion. It featured a few people that worked at the CDC, and they explained their jobs. There is no reason why we couldn’t do something similar when this movie comes out. It could be us on these talk shows telling everyone what it really means to be a true lab professional—and all it takes is a collective voice on social media.
To those that say this is crazy or impossible, I leave you with some words from the late, great Muhammad Ali, “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it.”
- Bad Blood. IMDB. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5795144/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_3
- Contagion. IMDB. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1598778/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1