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Gone Too Soon: Carrie Fisher

The daughter of Hollywood royalty. A gifted comic performer. A best-selling novelist. An in-demand script doctor. A raconteur like no other.

Carrie Fisher was so much more than Princess Leia, and yet the impact of her performance in that role was so huge that even in the face of all her accomplishments, it’s hard to think of her as anything else. Especially for those of us who were little when Star Wars first burst onto the screen in 1977, staring up at this amazing new world of heroes and villains, and right up there in the middle of the action was a beautiful princess, tough as nails and every bit as capable as her male counterparts.

At the time, this just wasn’t the kind of part women got in action movies, and the sight of Carrie Fisher running alongside Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill, blasting away at Stormtroopers, was striking, and, looking back at it now, inspirational to a generation of little boys being taught a lesson about equality without being preachy or obvious. Leia taught us by example, by kicking ass.

And if that was my reaction, I can only imagine how important that must have felt to generations of little girls who grew up with Princess Leia. Fortunately, we don’t have to imagine; I have the words of my friend Courtney Bryson to share:

Carrie Fisher gave us so much.

As Leia, she gave us strength, she showed little girls that they could be strong, they could be tough, they could lead.

As herself, she gave us so much more. Showed us addiction could be overcome, that it might not be pretty but pretty wasn’t what mattered, being honest with yourself did. That mental illness should be understood and treated, not feared and shunned. That making mistakes is human. She was blunt, and honest, and off the cuff, and unapologetically herself. She taught us to not apologize for going through shit, and to not take anybody’s shit. She taught us that recovering didn’t have to be graceful or apologetic, and f*ck ’em if they think less of you for your scars. Strong means accepting yourself and working towards a better world.

Thank you for giving this little girl the belief that women are strong and valid, and this woman the belief that courage and inner strength can conquer all.

Honor her, by being honest, and being yourself. Don’t apologize for your battle scars, and be a force for change. Be strong, women, be role models for the little girls in your life.

Be your own Leia. I will do my best to carry on your legacy.

You will be missed.

Be your own Leia. Be your own Carrie. I can’t think of a better way to live.

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