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SK-II Studio’s “The Center Lane” Uncover The Destiny-Changing Story Of Swimmer Rikako Ikee

The film is the first of eight SK-II STUDIO films that explores what it means to change destiny and how destiny is not a matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice.

Embracing the strength of the human spirit to rise above adversity in unprecedented times,  prestige skincare brand SK-II releases its debut SK-II STUDIO film “The Center Lane” about the  destiny-changing story of Rikako Ikee’s return to competitive swimming. 

Directed by award-winning Japanese film director Hirokazu Koreeda, the film is the first of eight  SK-II STUDIO films that explores what it means to change destiny and how destiny is not a  matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice.

“I feel truly blessed to have been involved in this wonderful project, and I want to express my  gratitude to SK-II and Koreeda-san for capturing who I really am in this film,” shared Rikako  Ikee as she reflected on her year-long journey with SK-II and being part of SK-II’s new  #ChangeDestiny chapter. “People around the world have been placed in incredibly difficult  situations. I’m sure there are times when it gets too much, and you start to question yourself.  It’s moments like these that I want everyone to remember the importance of persevering,  undeterred, and pursuing your own destiny. It doesn’t matter if we can’t go back to who we  were in the past, because destiny is determined by our actions in this very moment. No matter  what hardships you’re facing, I believe that you can overcome them and change your future.” 

The film’s title, “The Center Lane”, is inspired by Ikee-san’s quote when she first arrived at the  pool to be interviewed by Koreeda: “I definitely love the center lane, I always ended up in the  center lane at competitions, which you do when you are the fastest. So I feel like home. Like it’s my  lane”. The new film uses a mix of live documentary and animation to shed light on Ikee’s inner  thoughts, struggles and hopes as she trains for her competitive comeback.

“I had the opportunity to interview and explore Ikee-san’s thoughts and emotions as she embarked  on her return to competitive swimming after her recovery,” shared Hirokazu Koreeda. “It was  inspiring to witness what it takes to change destiny through Ikee-san’s personal journey. Her story  is unique, but within it is something many of us can relate to in these times. After all, life will always  find a way to knock us out of lane, but it is then when we can see our true self and how we evolve  past it. That is what I wanted to explore.” 

Japanese Swimmer Rikako Ikee, was the Most Valued Player (MVP) of the 2018 Asian Games  and a gold medal candidate for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics before she was diagnosed with leukemia  in February 2019. During her journey to recovery in May 2020, she partnered with SK-II to show a  new side of her, without her wig. Her story of hope and strength touched the heart of the nation,  reaching top news on Twitter, LINE and Yahoo in Japan and sparking an outpour of  encouragement and support from netizens all over the country. This made history as the first time  in 28 years where a solo female athlete was featured as frontpage news in Japan. 

Rikako Ikee has since returned to competitive swimming with a phenomenal comeback at the  Japan Open, clinching second in the 50-meter freestyle. She is set to compete in the 2020 Japan  Swim—the Japanese Olympics swimming qualifiers in April.

“#CHANGEDESTINY is our brand philosophy at SK-II and is at the heart of all that we do. We are  still in unprecedented times and our consumers have a higher expectation towards brands and  businesses on how they positively impact communities, society and the environment. Beyond  sharing stories of hope and empathy, we have a social responsibility to act now,” shared Sandeep  Seth, CEO, Global SK-II. “As we embark on our #ChangeDestiny journey this year and embrace  the spirit of Olympics as an Official Worldwide Partner of the Olympic Games, we want to use our  voice to support women as they take destiny in their own hands and overcome limitations placed  on them. As destiny is not a matter of chance, but choice.” 

As part of its #ChangeDestiny journey, SK-II, an Official Worldwide Partner of the Olympic  Games Tokyo 2020,is committed to providing a global platform of support to athletes and women  worldwide as they continue to pursue their destiny and overcome limitations that stand in their way.  SK-II will be dedicating its next SK-II STUDIO installment in support of this. 

SK-II will also be additionally setting up a #CHANGEDESTINY fund, contributing $1 for every  view garnered on each SK-II STUDIO film in support of women in pursuing their destiny to create  positive change as part of its brand purpose this year. Total contribution to the #CHANGEDESTINY fund will be capped at USD 500,000. Participating organizations will be  announced at a later date. Find out more about SK-II STUDIO’s first film “The Center Lane” and #CHANGEDESTINY  philosophy at https://www.sk-ii.com/sk-ii-studio/change-destiny.

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