Thank you Carrie Fisher: From One Carrie to Another
I never particularly loved my name, I always thought it was too old fashioned. Certainly not cool enough although I never went to school and shared a classroom with another like all the Brittanys, Jessicas, Marias or Fatimahs. I was named after my grandmother, Carrie and yet I never found a reason to start liking my name until the fabled vhs tape of Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope) found its way into the hands of my brothers and I one fateful day so many years ago.
After so many viewings I learned that my fave Princess Leia, proud, beautiful, no nonsense having princess wasn’t just some princess — someone to always rescue, someone to find in yet another castle, someone to be “fridged” — no my space princess was apart of the opposition to the oppressive force in the galaxy: she was important to the cause. Princess Leia was a key figure in the Rebel Alliance and my life was better for it.
But what made this better? What made this great? That Princess Leia was Carrie Fisher. Repeat: Carrie, a Carrie was a rebel, a member of the imperial state, a princess and later a general, a mother and for my extended universe fans: a light saber welding warrior. As a child I realized that my favorite character birthed from the Star Wars fandom was brought to life on the screen by a woman named Carrie and I was elated.
I often think about Carrie Fisher a little more often now when I interact with girls and young women who are younger than me that are fans of sci-fi and all things nerdy. I hear about, read about and see photos of them dressing up as the women who have served at their “gateway role models” into nerddom. It’s a thing of beauty.
Beyond her work in Star Wars, she had other roles. She was mother to Billie Lourde. She graced the screen and stage again and again as an actress. She penned several books: detailing her early life as child of Hollywood, her acting career through the years, her battle with substance and alcohol abuse and even the more taboo subject of her mental illness. Still too little people know that she dealt her hand in script rewriting as well.
Carrie Fisher, my Leia, stood out in her costume of white dress, those iconic buns in her hair and a look of defiance. With a blaster. Or without. But always with heart and a strong enough presence on screen to remind you of her unyielding conviction in what she believed in: a new hope for tomorrow — for the forces of darkness to be defeated, for innocent lives to be spared from tyranny and for the mourning of those whom we’ve lost not to be in vain.
Like many of you, I feel cheated. Carrie Fisher was taken from us too soon. Seeing her return to the franchise as a mature, still badass, still giving orders and holding shit down when the men in her life can’t deal, General Leia in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens was lovely and a hell of a nice touch.
I feel ever so grateful the universe was able to have this because girls and women need to know that our heroes grow older too,
they get grey streaks in their hair,
some of them become mothers
and some of them still call the shots with an intensity you wished the naysayers wished they never, ever doubted.
I thank Carrie for this. I thank Carrie Fisher for her Leia and her passion, personalty and intellect that she brought to the role inspiring people everyone, especially women.
I thank her for being my first “space mom”, my first gateway scifi rolemodel, and more importantly, I thank her for being a Carrie.
How honored I am to be able to share a name with such a woman that was she that lived and lived well.
[A version of this was written for a Princess Leia fanzine submitted earlier this April after Carrie Fisher’s death]