Interview with Kelly Hu, Roxy Shih, Shannen Doherty and Sylvia Kwan of “List of a Lifetime” on Lifetime by Suzanne 9/14/21
This is such a good movie. It’s a bit sad but very enjoyable. The characters are great. I love Kelly Hu, anyway (from shows like “Arrow” and “Warehouse 13”), and she’s really sympathetic as the sad woman, Brenda Lee, who finds out she has cancer. It’s a heartwarming tale, and you won’t be disappointed. Sylvia Kwan is great as her daughter, Talia. Brenda finds Talia, whom she gave up when she was a baby. Shannen Doherty plays the woman who raised Talia. The story is all about how Talia gives Brenda reasons to fight her cancer by creating a bucket list.
The women were really fun on the panel. I hope you enjoy it!
TANYA LOPEZ: Hi, everyone. I’m Tanya Lopez, EVP of scripted content for Lifetime, and thank you all for joining us today. As you saw, we have a lot happening this fall, as the leading producer of original movies it’s exciting for all of us to be able to continue to create these films despite the pandemic and, no, it’s not easy, but the team really makes it look that way. I’m so proud of the incredible talent that we have here today; that we brought together to tell these stories both in front and behind the camera. We have Shannen Doherty starring not in one but two Lifetime movies in the month of October. The remake of “Dying to Belong” with Favour Onwuka and Jenika Rose, executive produced by Danielle von Zerneck, and “List of a Lifetime” from director Roxy Shih in which Shannen stars alongside Kelly Hu and Sylvia Kwan; but that’s not all. Our beloved and talented Shannen also directed the special content that follows the film as part of our Stop Breast Cancer for Life campaign. It’s amazing and, Shannen, I know you’re out there. You’re going to be directing more for us. Let’s start with off with “List of a Lifetime.”
MODERATOR: Hello, everybody, and welcome. Our first panel for today is “List of a Lifetime.” Please welcome stars Kelly Hu, Shannen Doherty, Sylvia Kwan and director Roxy Shih. Thank you so much for joining us, ladies. Our first question today is going to be from Jamie Ruby.
QUESTION: Hi, guys. Thanks for talking to us today. What I wanted to know, and this is kind of, I guess, the obvious question, but what’s on your bucket list for all of you?
KELLY HU: Oh. Mine is literally pages and pages long. I’ve been acquiring a bucket list for over thirty years now, so it would take up days to tell you about it.
SYLVIA KWAN: I definitely have a lot on my bucket list, too. I think Kelly and I are very similar in that way. I definitely want to backpack the Chilkoot Mountains. Mount Whitney is on my bucket list. I was supposed to do it last year, but didn’t get to do it. Sky diving, I want to go sky diving. I want to make a movie. Oh, I just did.
ROXY SHIH: Yes. Get it, girl.
SYLVIA KWAN: Yeah.
ROXY SHIH: I wanted to go to Iceland with my best friend for our ten year friendivarsary, but then COVID hit, and then that didn’t happen. I really want to see the aurora borealis. I like anything that just sort of helps us appreciate nature and all the amazing gifts that she allows us to see in certain moments at the time and to take care of our environment. So that’s probably my biggest one yet.
SHANNEN DOHERTY: I have no bucket list. I think, for me, I just think a bucket list is odd in my particular situation, because it means that I’m sort of trying to check things off before my time runs out. So I’ m very much like there’s no bucket list because I’m going to be the longest living person with cancer. And so I guess it would just be, if I had to say one, it would just be living. Like that’s the only thing that’s on my list at this point.
QUESTION: Thank you so much.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question is going to be from Suzanne from TVMEG.COM.
QUESTION: Hi, great to see you all today. Kelly, I’ve seen you in a lot of shows where you’re a very strong, literally, a kick-ass woman, and you’re very passive in this show, at least for — in this movie for a long time. Was that difficult for you? Or how did you go about processing that?
KELLY HU: I think it really was. It was definitely a different kind of character for me. I never get to play these kind of characters. I think everybody always sees me as, you know the martial arts girl kicking butt, but kicking cancer’s ass, I think, is the hardest role that I’ve had to take on so far. I mean, this was really — It was a role that I had the most difficulty preparing for, and it had the biggest payoff at the end. It was absolutely amazing and so thankful to be able to do something like this.
QUESTION: All right. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question is from Jamie Steinberg.
KELLY HU: Is the mute button on maybe?
QUESTION: Oh, excuse me about that.
KELLY HU: No worries.
QUESTION: Such a pleasure to speak with all of you. Shannen, this was such a labor of love and a personal story, actually, probably close to your heart since you did have breast cancer. Were there any emotional moment for you while you were advising the stars, or maybe when you were behind the camera?
SHANNEN DOHERTY: Well, first, Roxy was our wonderful, amazing director and leader for “List of a Lifetime,” and I didn’t have to give anybody advice because between Roxy and these beautiful ladies who did such an amazing job with their own preparation process. They knew their characters. They knew the story. They did cancer proud, because they did all their due diligence. I had the easiest job. I got to show up for four days and be a part of their world. So I really I did nothing. They did everything.
KELLY HU: No. Shannen, you showed up. Oh, my God. You were amazing.
SHANNEN DOHERTY: So, I mean — thank you, and we all showed up. And, honestly, it’s, for me, this was truly like an unbelievable pleasure to be a part of, and I was blown away every second that I got to work with these amazing ladies.
ROXY SHIH: Thank you, Shannen. Love you.
KELLY HU: Yes, we love you.
SHANNEN DOHERTY: Somebody else has got to talk. I’m like ohhh.
MODERATOR: Okay. We’re going to move on to our next question from Jay Bobbin.
QUESTION: Hello. My question is for Shannen, too. Shannen, that weekend, this kind of bundles “Dying to Belong” in also, that is quite a weekend for you in many ways, and it kind of represents everything Lifetime is: serious, socially-minded dramas, also the content you directed to go along with that, plus also what we more technically call a Lifetime movie with “Dying to Belong,” that type of film. Can you talk a little bit about running the gamut of what Lifetime is in a single weekend among all these projects?
SHANNEN DOHERTY: I mean, I think what’s amazing about Lifetime is that they really support women, and they do support social issues from this movie about breast cancer to my other movie that’s really about bullying and like what society, the pressure that society can put on young people today, and I think working with a company like Lifetime and a studio like Lifetime is that you feel very supportive and very, very, very nurtured and, more importantly, you feel heard, and I think women all around the world who tune in also feel heard. It’s their movies connecting with people at the end of the day. I had no idea I was doing two Lifetime movies, and I’m really honored that they both ended up on Lifetime. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of this family.
QUESTION: Also, if I could do a follow up. With “List of a Lifetime,” the content that you directed following it, did those kind of come hand-in-hand or did your directing come about once you started filming “List of a Lifetime”? Were they both originated at the same time?
SHANNEN DOHERTY: No. So the special content it was sort of broached to me later if I would want to direct it, and the response was absolutely as long as this amazing group of women are comfortable with me directing them, and they were and they were amazing. Every single one was easy to direct, even Roxy, my director.
ROXY SHIH: I was so awkward.
SHANNEN DOHERTY: She took direction perfectly. Like it was a really —
ROXY SHIH: The roles were reversed. It was amazing.
SHANNEN DOHERTY: It was, right? I felt weird, like — but you took it so well. I mean, everybody did. It was one day, and as I posted on my Instagram, I was like this is like one of the best days of my life, and it was really was. I just had such a good time, and everybody made it very easy because they’re all pros.
QUESTION: Thank you.
KELLY HU: I just have to say before anybody else talks that this was such a sisterhood. Seriously, this project was really the best project I have ever been on. Everyone was absolutely amazing, and the sisterhood, the bonding that happened during this project was like no other project that I’ve ever worked on, seriously.
SHANNEN DOHERTY: I agree.
KELLY HU: Yeah.
SHANNEN DOHERTY: I agree, and we’re missing our other — you know, we’re missing Autumn, our producer who, you know, just —
KELLY HU: And Patricia —
ROXY SHIH: Yeah.
SHANNEN DOHERTY: And Patricia. Like, yeah, I agree with you. Out of, I’ve worked on, obviously, a lot of projects, and this is probably one of my favorites because it was just a big bonding — And you guys welcomed me in, because I came a little later. It was pretty fantastic, a phenomenal cast, phenomenal crew. Our director was okay.
ROXY SHIH: Step up.
SHANNEN DOHERTY: You’re the best.
ROXY SHIH: The love fest between us. And we forget that there’s other people in the room. Sorry —
SHANNEN DOHERTY: Right.
KELLY HU: I know.
MODERATOR: We have a question over here for Roxy. Roxy, did you feel it was important to have strong AAPI representation behind the camera for this movie?
ROXY SHIH: A hundred percent. I feel like the rise in inclusive storytelling that has been happening over the past few years as well as the rise of female stories being authentically represented by female filmmakers is just such a game changing sort of movement that’s happened for all of us, but not only is that important, it’s like we see the shift happening behind the scenes as well. Just because it’s happening in one aspect doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be happening in all aspects, as well. So I think with this one I think everybody on here can also say, as well, it was important to me that I had inclusive, diverse key crew, also women and queer people of color and just, you know, it was really just a — and these are all my friends also, so I think that’s what made it really comfortable just because it’s a safe space for me to feel supported on the schedule like this. But, in all essence, I think that change does need to happen in our industry, and it’s happening by that, like, happening as well. So I just think if one person starts doing it, if it’s just that one decision, allows more space at the table rather than fighting for that one seat.
MODERATOR: Thank you so much.
ROXY SHIH: Thank you.
MODERATOR: Our next question is from Mekeisha Madden.
QUESTION: Hi, ladies. Thanks so much for making the time to talk to us. Okay, I have to ask this. This is a nerd out N.C.I.S. moment. Kelly and Sylvia, did you bond over the N.C.I.S. connection?
KELLY HU: Wait, we have an N.C.I.S. connection?
SYLVIA KWAN: Yeah. I think we were both on N.C.I.S. before.
KELLY HU: Oh, wow.
QUESTION: You didn’t know?
KELLY HU: Were you a victim too? How funny.
SYLVIA KWAN: So funny.
KELLY HU: Wait, I’ve done a couple of N.C.I.S. I wasn’t always a victim. Yeah.
SYLVIA KWAN: You weren’t always a victim.
KELLY HU: I think I might have shot someone.
SYLVIA KWAN: Oh, my. That’s hilarious. That’s really funny.
QUESTION: And a serious question to piggyback on what Roxy said. It was just really great to see women of color in front of and behind the camera. Can you talk about that? And just sort of just I’m hoping this is the upward trend that keeps happening. It was just great to see your story.
SYLVIA KWAN: Absolutely. I definitely think as more stories get told, especially with “Shang-Chi” coming out, which was amazing, like I love seeing —
ROXY SHIH: You looked so hot, yeah.
SYLVIA KWAN: Huh?
ROXY SHIH: When you look — Sorry, go, go.
SYLVIA KWAN: Sorry. I was like what? No. It definitely is incredible, and it definitely was such an incredible space. Like even on Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year, sorry, we all wore red, which was so special. It’s something that I’ve never really experienced being on a set. I got a little emotional that day. I got to say, when I walked in and everyone was wearing red I was like, all right, this is different, you know. So I think it’s so important, and I love that this project had so much diversity behind the camera as well as in front of it. So I was just really, really grateful to be part of that and kind of part of the change like Roxy was talking about.
KELLY HU: And, this, I have to say, this was Sylvia’s first film, and we kept teasing her, like don’t get used to this because it doesn’t happen like this. Like being on set with this kind of love and sisterhood and positivity was so unique, but hopefully there will be more like that. Maybe, hopefully, Hollywood will be changing and there will be more projects like this where people can come together and really bond the way we did.
QUESTION: I hope so, too. Thanks, ladies.
MODERATOR: Thank you so much. Our next question is from Luaine Lee. Luaine, you might be muted.
QUESTION: I don’t see the unmute. Can you hear me?
MODERATOR: Yes, you’re good.
QUESTION: Okay. Shannen, your career has been so colorful. Was there ever a time when you wanted to just give it up?
SHANNEN DOHERTY: (Laughter.) Every day. No. I wouldn’t say give it up. And, thank you, it has been colorful. I’m going to take that as a big compliment, because I would hate to think that I was beige, so knowing that my career’s been colorful is — I’d like to think that I’ve chosen projects that are relatable but that are different that challenge me as an actor. And there were times where it got a little rough as far as the press goes, and that can feel — you can feel a bit defeated, absolutely, but that hasn’t been in so long. I think, I mean, it’s like thirty years ago, so. I haven’t felt that in probably like thirty years, and now I just sort of look at like there’s all these new chapters and new opportunities for my career hat I’m super excited about and just ready to keep charging forward.
SHANNEN DOHERTY: Roxy.
ROXY SHIH: Yes, bitch. Get it.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question is from Francine Brokaw.
QUESTION: Hi, yes. For Shannen, you’ve popped up a lot on shows that have to do with cancer. I know you’ve had your struggles with it, I have as well. Have you gone through any point in your life that says I don’t want to hear the word? I don’t want to watch anything? I just want to ignore it for the time being?
SHANNEN DOHERTY: I think this is the first acting thing I’ve done about cancer, because I’ve been pretty careful about bringing the acting into that world. But, again, when I read the script, and I found out who all was involved, and I felt like I had to be a part of it, and I was super honored to be a part of it and, again, like what Kelly has been talking about, like, the sisterhood, that made this film even more special. Like, yes, the topic is special, and everybody’s performances are special, but the sisterhood behind the scenes sort of blows everything else out of the water for me, personally. And, no, I mean, I don’t — I feel like I have a responsibility in my more public life, which I separate from my acting life, I feel like I have a responsibility to talk about cancer and to perhaps educate people more to let people know that people with stage four are very much alive and very active and more than capable of working, and just to sort of raise money and spread awareness. So I don’t really get sick of it and in my very close-knit quarters it doesn’t really come up. My husband says that you would never know that I had cancer. I don’t ever complain. I don’t really talk about it. It’s just it’s part of life at this point.
MODERATOR: Thank you. We have time for one more question. That’s going to be Suzanne.
QUESTION: Oh, hi. Who wrote the movie? And do you know why she named the main character Brenda Lee? I just noticed that as I was watching.
KELLY HU: You want to take that, Roxy?
ROXY SHIH: Yeah. The script was written by Jessica Landry. Jessica and I haven’t connected. Like basically the script was given to me by Autumn, our amazing producer, and I read the script. I was really burnt out at the time. I read like fifteen pages into it, and I’m like I just have to do this. So I connected with her and I’m just like, “Yo, girl, really great job on this. Hey, we shot it. It was amazing.” And I think that we’re going to connect in the future, but I think the Brenda Lee thing was probably super random. Does that have a personal reason with you?
KELLY HU: Shannen.
QUESTION: With me?
ROXY SHIH: Yeah. Or is it —
QUESTION: Oh, no. Just the famous singer Brenda Lee —
SHANNEN DOHERTY: Brenda Lee.
ROXY SHIH: Oh, no. I don’t think —
KELLY HU: Oh, that Brenda Lee.
QUESTION: Oh, I’m probably too old. Never mind.
ROXY SHIH: No, maybe I should have — Oh, wait. Kelly, we should have rethought your character.
KELLY HU: I know.
ROXY SHIH: We didn’t do our research apparently, so.
QUESTION: Thank you. That’s okay. Thank you.
ROXY SHIH: Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you all for taking the time to be on our panel today, ladies.
Presented by Native Deodorant, List of a Lifetime premieres October 10th at 8pm ET/PT and tells the story of Brenda Lee (Hu) who’s prompted to look for the daughter she gave up for adoption decades ago after a breast cancer diagnosis. After finding Talia (Kwan) and sharing her devasting news, Talia convinces Brenda to make a bucket list of everything she wants to do, promising to help her complete everything on the list. While keeping Brenda a secret from her adoptive mother Diana (Doherty), Talia grows closer to the mother she never knew. Meanwhile, Brenda discovers a meaningful relationship with Talia she didn’t know she needed, and a reason to fight for her life.
Following the movie, the aftershow Beyond the List with Shannen Doherty will debut, featuring exclusive conversations with Doherty and the movie’s cast, new never-before-seen photos during Doherty’s breast cancer journey, as well as information from top oncologists Dr. Elise Port and Dr. Philomena McAndrew. The aftershow also features intimate testimonials from within the A+E Networks family featuring employees affected by breast cancer.
Proofread and Edited by Brenda