Carrie Fisher is someone that most associate with Star Wars. Their love for her comes from their love for Princess Leia and there isn’t anything wrong with that but it does erase some of the power that Fisher had. While she was a strong role model for many of us growing up, there’s a beauty and a strength in Carrie Fisher’s words that make her the strong woman we all know and love.
There are so many movies out there that you know and love that were worked on by Carrie Fisher without your knowledge. Hook, The Wedding Singer, and Sister Act, just to name a few, were doctored by Fisher and she made a career of tightening up scripts without anyone knowing.
Outside of her acting, she was a prominent author and wrote such quotes as “take your broken heart, make it into art,” that Meryl Streep gave to us after Fisher passed which is just a snippet of why I, personally, think that Carrie Fisher’s power comes from her words, not her performance of Princess Leia.
When you stop and watch Wishful Drinking, the filmed version of Fisher’s one-woman show that she did on Broadway, it is clear that she looked at her life as something to laugh along with and, as she said, “If my life wasn't funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.” There is something beautiful in the way that Carrie spoke about her life that makes everything she said that much more inspiring.
For me, why I relate so much to Carrie Fisher is that she recognized her life wasn’t perfect but she didn’t make it into some glamorous thing. She was honest about her struggles, she wrote books about her struggle with her mother and even fictionalized their relationship in Postcards From The Edge to make us understand that there was a love there, despite how dysfunctional her relationship with Debbie Reynolds may have been.
And through it all, she did it with a joke or some wiseass remark about her life because she wanted to laugh about it and embrace how it all made her into who she was at that moment in time. Carrie Fisher wasn’t perfect and I don’t think she’d like anyone glorifying her and acting as if she wasn’t flawed. She was, but she embraced her flaws and used her writing to explore them and her own history.
She could craft an incredible fictional story or tighten up someone else’s screenplays to make them the classics we know today and she could also tell of the horrors of her past with a beautifully witty remark that made us laugh before thinking of the pain it must have caused her.
And that’s why, frankly, I see Carrie Fisher as my hero and not Princess Leia. In the documentary Bright Lights, Carrie said that she thought Leia was everyone’s hero and not her but that isn’t true. While Leia taught us to be strong and powerful, it was Carrie who inspires so many of us to look into ourselves and our own words to “Carrie on.”
Telling your own story is the bravest thing that someone can do. You’re baring your heart for the world to see and they can shun you or they can embrace it. Carrie Fisher did it time and time again without pause and she would share all her pain so that others could grow from her struggle and that, to me, is what makes her so incredible. While so many of us could look at Leia and find strength, it was there because of Carrie Fisher. Not because of what Princess Leia was doing in space.
It was there because Carrie wasn’t someone to play a weak girl. She was always going to have her sass and her spark in her roles and it permeates in Leia because that’s just who Carrie Fisher was. If you haven’t read her novels, they’re her gift to us all now that she is gone. Her words are inspiring, they’re heartbreaking, and they’re a look into Carrie as a person and how she coped with the world being against her.
Princess Leia is a hero and she is someone to be admired but she wouldn’t be the hero we know and love with Carrie Fisher and, to me, the power that Fisher had comes from her words and I will always be eternally grateful for them.
Rachel Leishman is a writer based in New York City. She specializes in yelling about her favorite properties. A real-life Leslie Knope, she loves her fictional characters and knows probably too much about Harrison Ford's career.