Shannon Doherty has acted since childhood, and in the 1980s she worked in television series (in “Little House on the Prairie”) and in movies (as Heather Duke in “Heathers”). In the early 90s, he gained icon status after the slow-burning explosion of teenage soap “Beverly Hills, 90210”, which took his actors into the spotlight and led the gossip press to follow their every move. After that initial burst of celebrities, Doherty continued to work long-term in “Malrats” (1995), “Charmed,” TV movies, and more. She even starred in a 2012 reality show, “Shannon Cess,” which followed her wedding plans with photographer Kurt Iswarienko.
Doherty was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, and went through treatment – which she recorded on her Instagram – until she was pardoned in April 2011. Which is treatable, but not curable.
Yet that spring, Doherty signed on to play a parody version of himself on “BH90210,” a meta-renaissance of Fox’s “Beverly Hills, 90210”. He went public with his diagnosis in February 2020, and has been working ever since – although it was not always easy to convince potential employers that he was desirable. This month, Doherty is not in one, but Two Lifetime movies – “Dying to Belong” and “Lifetime List” – will air on the same weekend on October 9 and 10. In Breast Cancer: Kelly Hu plays a woman who diagnoses it, and reaches out to the adult daughter she adopted years ago.
Doherty, now 50, was featured DiversityThe issue of ‘Women of Power Women’, and her intense desire to continue her work – and the fact that she feels like a better actor since facing cancer. In answer to this question, what Doherty is pulling out of acting, his experience in “BH90210” and why SAG-AFTRA’s health insurance is a “broken system”.
When you found out your cancer had recurrence, what were you thinking about acting?
I don’t think there was ever a thought that I wouldn’t work. Apparently, my first thought was, “Oh my God, how is this happening?” There is a little bit of fear, panic, and then there is resilience. There is power that everything is icks and but like the last blow of my life, or a lot, a lot, a lot that I got, I can go through it too.
Then you start thinking about your life and everything in it. And I can’t think of not doing the things I like in life. Be it acting or directing, or playing with my dog or riding a horse. Or chatting with my family and my friends. As such, I can’t imagine No. Being able to do any work. So, when you can’t imagine not doing these, you just go, “Well, I’ll continue it all!”
And then you have to go to other people and make them understand that you are preferred. Stage 4 cancer, does not mean the end of your life. This does not mean that you are not sustainable in the workplace. It’s just the opposite. I think we probably work harder than anyone because we have a lot to prove. I always feel like I have to prove that I can handle the long run. So I wouldn’t complain 16 hours a day. I wouldn’t complain about doing 16 when we took it for the third time.
I can do it better than anyone – With Stage 4.
You signed up for “BH90210” in 2019, before you revealed to the public that you repeated. How was it kept secret?
It’s not affecting my abilities or my skills, and I didn’t really want it to be ready before it came out. Confirmed what I’m saying – don’t write to us. If we can fight cancer, we can definitely do one thing.
Brian Austin Green, I think, was the only person on that show who knew about your repetition.
Yes, going into filming, Brian knew. I didn’t say so many times to do it, and Brian would call me and talk to me about it. And be like, “Hey, this will be you and me, and we’ll have an explosion!” Then finally I told him what was happening to me. And maybe I had my own fear of saying yes, not just because it was “90210” again. I didn’t realize going back there. I didn’t want to act myself, because I was an actor at first. I had a lot of hang ups about it. So Brian knew, and then Ian at some point [Ziering] And I had a discussion, and he knew.
I thought the show was interesting and fun. How do you end up feeling about it?
Listen, we all have an idea if we were to do a “20210” if we were in charge, wouldn’t we? I certainly created a character of “Shannon”. And I realized that maybe the third episode started, and then after all the episodes, they gave me a lot – and I mean, Lots – Freedom. I’m not sure I’ve ever said a scripted line.
Brian and I will do nothing but just improv. We were pretty crazy working together. And where there is credit to give credit, it is amazing that our authors and our main team have approved it.
Was everyone doing it, or just you and Brian?
Brian and I could have taken it the farthest? Half the time, I won’t say anything. And I will fill my mouth with food in every scene. So a crazy version of Shannon was my own, but a version that had something in me – animal advocacy, it was all important to me. The truth is that he was an enlightened man, if you will. Whether he was or not, he saw himself as one.
The dream of an actor is to be given so much freedom.
When there were the same old / same old rumors about you from that show, you immediately shut it down on Instagram. And it worked, it seems?
I mean, it’s very tired, isn’t it? But I was definitely not going to do it. It’s something I will never do again in my life. And as much as I can’t tolerate a certain amount of social media, I understand and appreciate what it has allowed me to do in that moment. I told my piece about it, to be able to deal with it immediately, and it was a nice thing to close. Because it’s certainly not something I was able to do in my 20s.
Do you think you had the language to be able to do this in your 20s?
I think so. If I had a platform, yes. Perhaps it would not have been so outspoken. And maybe it was a bit Strict A close. But it would still be closed.
But I don’t think you can look back. Just go ahead.
From what I collect, keeping SAG-AFTRA health insurance is not easy. Was it a concern for you?
Oops. Have a conversation! There are many unions where you get your health insurance based on points. And those points are accumulated during the period when you were in the union. So I’ve been in the union for 40 years; I have been paying the top arrears for 40 years. And the fact is that if I don’t work for a year, my insurance goes down and the price goes up a lot.
And then that lower level just lasts, I don’t know, a year or two, probably. And then what? Look at Ed Asner – he was no longer able to get SAG insurance. And this is a man who worked all his life!
No one has gone and changed it. And that’s something I’m worried about, of course, like: “Oh, my God, I want to make sure I get a certain amount of money every year to get insurance.” Even if you look at my 40 years of arrears, and the pensions and all the money that producers pay on my behalf, you will think that it will cover insurance for the rest of my life. And it should.
It’s the Writers Guild system, isn’t it?
That’s right. This is a very, very broken system in the Screen Actors Guild. And I hope that will change.
New President Fran Dreser – Surviving Breast Cancer!
Yes! And I hope he had moments of fear about insurance, and SAG took it seriously to try to change how he treats healthcare.
Are you in active treatment now?
I’m taking pills. One of them I take every day, and wish for the rest of my life. The other, I accept until my body responds to it. I’m very good – I do my blood work once a month. I get my PET scan and all other work done every six months.
So it’s just about follow-through, and hopefully you’ll stay on a protocol for as long as possible. So, frankly, my hope is I won’t hit my protocols. My body is responsive to what I am in and I can stretch it as much as possible. Because at one stage, we will have another treatment, we will come up with something new.
What do you get from acting that you don’t get out of other parts of your life?
It’s an opportunity to put my own life behind me. And while I’m doing this character, I don’t have the same worries and fears and anxieties in my own personal life. I’m exploring someone else’s personality I’m making from clay.
As actors we are creative people. And if you’re a creative person, when you can no longer be creative, I think you’re going to go a little crazy. So what I am coming out of is that I am fulfilling the creativity that is inside me. The same goes for management.
Do you think of yourself the most in your past roles?
Oops. Why. Why That question?
I wonder if there is anything unexpected!
Not really. I mean, maybe for the last few years I’ve been thinking about Rini in “Malrats”. But that’s because Kevin Smith kept sending me scripts for “Malrats 2”. So it was in my head.
What is it going to be?
I do not know. I certainly hope so. Because I love working with him.
After taking a deep dive into your Instagram, I wanted to ask you about your support system.
I have an amazing family. And when I say “family”, it includes everywhere আমার my friends my family. And frankly, my mom and my husband are there, and everyone is just great.
No one in my immediate circle sees me differently. None of them treat me differently. It’s just me. I rarely talk about what I’m going through. And they’ll all probably tell you that they never hear my complaint, they never hear my cries or get upset about it.
And I think it’s important to be normal in your life when you’re working on something like that No. Normal
This interview has been edited and condensed.