Written by Anna Hall
On December 27th, 2016, we lost what many of us considered an inspiration, a hero, and a role model: Carrie Frances Fisher.
She has done so much in her life, but is most well known for her role as Princess Leia (later as General Organa) in the original Star Wars movies and the 7th episode, released in December of 2015. As a strong female lead that was far beyond her time, even in a galaxy far, far away, Princess Leia was someone so many looked up to for so many reasons. She taught me what it meant to be a princess: independent, proactive, and headstrong, but also kind, selfless and dependable. General Organa taught me to forgive, and be close to those we love. I know that both of these sides of Leia were inspired deeply by Carrie as a person, not just as an actress. She has been an influence to me and so many others for as long as I have known of her, and she will continue to be for years to come.
To some, she was just Princess Leia, the buns in the sides of her head and a blaster in her hands. To others, Carrie was also the loving mother of a daughter, Billie, and service French Bulldog, Gary, and always had her iconic tweets made up of only emojis, forcing us to actually sit down and decipher what she had to say.
She always had a way of capturing attention.
To others, she also was a strong advocate and role model for mental health. She spoke up about her experiences with bipolar disorder and substance abuse and made those of us struggling feel less alone and gave our hardships a place to exist within ourselves. Finally, someone looked at mental illness as just that: an illness. We are still human beings with hopes and dreams and loves and lives to lead.
"Take your broken heart and make it into art," she said, because she made it very clear that no mental illness was going to prevent her from living a functional and productive life. Instead of using her illness as an excuse, she used it to push herself and create beauty, and she inspired others to do the same.
Because of her, we do not feel so alone. We do not feel so ostracized because our minds work a little differently than people who live without mental illness. She left a legacy on this earth, and everyone will know her name for years to come, and not just for being Princess Leia.
She was unashamed of her mental illnesses and fought harder than almost anyone to shatter the stigma surrounding them.
I fight this battle for myself and for others in her honour. If not for Carrie, my life wouldn't be the same, and neither would thousands of others'. Her strong-female-lead-esque aura along with her confidence to be true to herself created a memory of her that wipes out the bad and pushes the good to centre-stage to shine in the spotlight--a spotlight she turned on for herself to stand in. As another Campus Rep, Allie, put it, "...[actors] are genuinely, perfectly imperfect people," and most are no longer afraid to show their imperfections to the world. This can be credited to Carrie Fisher. She dubbed us "survivors," and told us to use our minds in ways that others cannot fathom to create beauty. Yes, our minds are different, but that does not mean they cannot make incredible and wonderful works of art. We can find comfort in knowing that some of the most amazing masterpieces have been created with a different mind, and if they can do beautiful things, who's to say we can't as well?
I am forever grateful for the impact Carrie Frances Fisher has had on my life and the way I view myself. I will always look up to her legacy and the person she was, on screen and off.
Rest in power, Carrie. May the Force be with you.
Photo from starwars.com