Yesterday we heard the tragic news of the passing of one our favourite characters, actors and what felt like a family member to some. My father and I had just sat down and ordered a nice meal to end a good day when we saw the news. We were both shocked and quiet for a while but then simultaneously raised our glasses and toasted. We toasted to a beautiful trilogy, beautiful memories at starwars celebration past July and to countless amazing moments we experienced with Carrie Fisher.
At a young age Carrie quickly became a household name as she took on the role of Princess Leia in the original Star Wars Trilogy. She was one of the first strong female characters presented to young girls at the time. I cannot imagine completely what that must have been like but I can speak of the impact she and her portrayal of Leia made on me at a young age. Growing up with both the originals and prequels I had both Princess Leia and Padme to look up to. Both were strong female figures with political ideologies and a strong sense of purpose that was already cemented in them before we meet them both in A New Hope and The Phantom Menace. Princess Leia stood for what was right, just and honourable. She alongside other strong female figures throughout my life showed me it was important and right to stand up for what you believe in, to stand up for others and to want to make a difference no matter how small or big.
For me however Carrie Fisher continued to be a source of inspiration after the release of the films. She has always been very open to us fans about everything going on in her personal life. As I am sure we are all aware it hasn’t always been the easiest path for her and she has made mistakes in the past. However she was always so open and upfront about them and shared them with us. She spoke out about mental health and attempted to break the bad stigma that surrounds the topic. She seemed to always also embrace that part of her and did not try to hide it from the whole word. The way the whole Star Wars family took her in and were all so accepting is a big reason as to why I am so proud to be part of it. We are a big open community and I truly believe we always made Carrie feel accepted not for who we wanted her to be but for who she was.
I have struggled with mental problems myself and so to see someone be so open about it definitely helped me open up with my family and friends about my own problems. This is one of the best things I could have done, and I also have her alongside others to thank for it. She also showed me it was not something to have to be embarrassed about or something I had to kill within me. I started to learn to accept myself for who I am and that that also included my quirkiness and some of my ticks. She showed to many that not everything is perfect and that it shouldn’t be. We all loved her for being imperfect and through this I think we helped her accept herself the way she helped us accept ourselves.
Past July I had the amazing experience of going to Star Wars Celebration 2016 in London. Both Carrie and Mark Hamill were present alongside many others. Knowing now that I was part of the last Celebration with Carrie definitely makes the experience even more magical. It was great to see the support she had from all the fans and how much she always gave back during all her interviews. It seemed she was one of the few genuine ‘celebrities’. She spoke her mind and whatever would come to it which sometimes got her into trouble but really just made us love her more. She was witty, smart and warm hearted.
Of course I can only speak of how I perceived her through interviews and I did not know her personally, but she always seemed genuine.
It is a true loss for her family, friends and the Star Wars community. She will be dearly missed and never forgotten. I look forward to seeing her appear on our screens one last time in episode 8 (maybe also in 9). We will then sadly have to say goodbye to Princess Leia however we can always find her in the Original Trilogy, The Force Awakens and inside our hearts.
Carrie Fisher 21/10/1956 – 27/12/2016