In addition to creating compelling and often timely original films, Lifetime also commits itself to bringing awareness to various women’s issues. This month the network is focusing on breast cancer — it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month — the most common cancer around the world. Along with these efforts is the premiere of a new film, List of a Lifetime, on Sunday, Oct. 10 at 8pm ET/PT. The movie focuses on a mother and daughter, and it really emphasizes the enduring power of love.
Kelly Hu, who plays Brenda Lee, the mother, explains the film further. “The mother gets diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer and realizes that she carries this breast cancer gene — the BRCA1 gene — and she gave up her daughter for adoption 23 years before, has never been in contact with her, and she decides that she needs to go and find her and warn her about this gene so she can get checked and save herself. And then through this connection, reconnecting, they build a relationship.” After Brenda finds her daughter, Talia (played by Sylvia Kwan), the two bond over creating a bucket list for Brenda to complete.
Kwan was excited to be a part of such an important film. “I think it’s wonderful to be able to bring awareness to this cause on such a large scale,” she elaborated. “And also, I really love the idea of living your life the way you want to, whether it’s creating a bucket list and doing all the things you want to do, or whether it’s questioning what kind of person you want to be and what kind of relationships you want to have.”
So what’s on their individual bucket lists? Kwan has some ambitious ideas. “One of my top ones is backpacking the Chilkoot Trail in Alaska. I want to visit Patagonia and travel a lot more. I want to go skydiving. I want to get scuba certified. There are a lot of things — a lot of adventurous things — but I think this film also made me think about other things that are not so stereotypical for a bucket list. What are certain things that I would like to accomplish before my time on Earth is up? It was really interesting to think about just because this film brought up a lot of these questions.”
And what about Hu? “I’ve had a bucket list since I was in my late teens, I think. My list is forever … it’s always evolving, and it’s pages and pages long. … I’ve been fortunate enough to knock a lot of things off my bucket list, like hiking Machu Picchu, and going to India, and having vodka and caviar in Russia. [But] one of the things that’s on my bucket list is to save a life, so I became a donor.”
Hu also has a personal connection to the film and its themes. “My mother was diagnosed [with breast cancer] when I was 8 or 9. I remember that being the first time I ever realized my mother’s mortality, when she got diagnosed, because she had a whole conversation with my brother and I should she not come out of this, like who we would end up having to live with, and it was really, I think, one of the most traumatic things for us to go through as kids of somebody going through this diagnosis.” Her mother survived, but later in life, her grandmother also contracted the disease. “I got tested a long time ago for the BRCA gene, and thank goodness I don’t have it, but it’s still something that can occur. So I’m still very careful, very mindful.”
List of a Lifetime is a great film to watch with your mother (or your daughter) and reminds viewers not only to mind their physical health but also to be honest with themselves about the kind of love they accept in their lives.
This month, Lifetime is also spearheading additional content under the Stop Breast Cancer for Life campaign. Along with the two leads from the film, it features Shannen Doherty, who stars in the movie and is a metastatic breast cancer survivor. She directs some of the features premiering during the month on both Lifetime and LMN and during the airing of the film. Hu enthuses, “Shannen was absolutely amazing. Such a pleasure to work with. [The cast and crew] really were like a family, I’m telling you. We even hung out.” List of a Lifetime also fell under Lifetime’s Broader Focus initiative, championing women in key production roles. This film also benefited from having a predominately Asian cast and crew.