A little over forty years ago, a film telling the story taking place in a galaxy far far away was released to the public. It made a huge impact on its audiences and still holds a powerful legacy today; the film in question is Star Wars, later to be renamed Star Wars: A New Hope and part of this bequest was actress Carrie Fisher. She auditioned for the part of Princess Leia at just nineteen years old. She was cast as this feminist hero and it’s no secret that it marked her breakthrough into the industry. Since her appearance, like her character, she became a feminist icon.
Fast forward to the present day; she still is a feminist icon and just days after her sudden passing leaves a great legacy behind. It’s still hard to speak about her in the past tense, it’s evident she touched the hearts of many. Not just with her ground breaking acting but her exceptional writing and outstanding campaigning about subjects that still have a stigma around them. She was one of the first female celebrities to talk about subjects that were deemed taboo and unfeminine, with enthusiasm and flair. With her works she helped to demystify mental illness, addiction, sexism in Hollywood and fraught family relationships. She herself was diagnosed with bipolar disorder; she found it hard to accept until her late 20s after becoming sober following a near fatal overdose. Alongside bipolar disorder, she acknowledged and accepted her other illnesses including drug addiction, alcoholism and body dysmorphia; she embraced these until they became normalised. The way she conquered her demons by accepting them, being open and honest about them and soldiering forward made her a truly successful warrior women; even with inner demons that made her struggle, she carried on; a model of success and undying strength.
This serves to encourage those that similarly struggle every day with their own challenges to continue her mission to demystify and be rid of the stigma surrounding mental health. John Moore, a fan of Fisher, spoke highly of her when they discussed about mental health issues in an open manner;
"She has inspired me by teaching me that just because you're a little broken or a little different you can still be an inspiration and shine like she did. She was honest about her health issues and was just herself. She taught me to not feel embarrassed or a lesser person just because you sometimes struggle to get through the day. Her death has hit me hard but it also makes me feel so proud to have been like her, different."
If you ever feel alone and struggling, here is a quote she wrote in her last column in the Guardian to a young woman about coming to peace with her own bipolar disorder:
"You can let it all fall down and feel defeated and hopeless and that you're done. Move through those feelings and meet me on the other side. As your bipolar sister, I'll be watching."
The most wonderful thing about this woman is that you don’t need to hear an explanation on how much of an influence she was to many fans, fellow actresses and many modern women alike; you see it around you. From fans dressing up as Princess Leia at sci-fi/comic conventions, or any party that involves dressing up to her fellow peers honouring her at the recent Golden Globes. Her influence can be seen throughout many other branches of the industry that entertain us, with numerous tributes, including Family Guy mastermind Seth McFarlane, where she appeared in several episodes.
You don’t need to wait to hear how talented she was; you see it in films and actors/directors expressing their joy of working with her, or those simply inspired by her to follow her footsteps, her dreams, her values..
In the words of Star Wars fans alike; may the force be with you, you are one with the stars tonight. Rest in peace sweet princess.