By KATHERINE NGUYEN
I loved and admired Carrie Fisher, from her iconic role and physique to her hilarious Tweets and straightforward, down-to-earth personality. In no way am I exaggerating when I say she is an inspiration to all, and I was absolutely heartbroken when I learned of her passing.
At the age of 60, Carrie Fisher died four days after experiencing a fatal heart attack during a transatlantic flight from London to Los Angeles on December 23, 2016.
Even before she established her position in the entertainment industry, she was considered “Hollywood royalty” because her parents were actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher. She received her breakout role in 1975 starring as Lorna Karpf in the film Shampoo.
I’d like to take a quick moment to apologize. In all my 17 years of living, I have never watched a Star Wars movie, and I genuinely don’t intend to anytime soon. It’s crazy to think about, but some of us just aren’t the space-killing-mouse-mask-looking type of people.
Yet perhaps the most well-known character Fisher ever played was Princess Leia in the Star Wars series, which premiered in 1977. Opposite Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford, she became a household name and cemented herself in film history.
“Fisher’s portrayal of Princess Leia as a strong female protagonist was always really inspirational to me in my childhood,” Lillian Nguyen (Sr.).
Fisher continued on to feature as Mystery Woman in The Blues Brothers (1980), Cathy in Laverne & Shirley (1982), April in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), Carol Peterson in The ‘Burbs (1989) and Marie in When Harry Met Sally… (1989).
But it was not just her acting that had people praising her relentlessly – it was also her devotion to shedding light on many “taboo” topics in society. In her four novels and three memoirs, Fisher discussed “addiction, recovery, mental illness, fraught family relationships, and the grime and glamour of sexist Hollywood” (Rolling Stone). In countless interviews and talks shows, she would talk about her bipolar disorder and body dysmorphia in an attempt to normalize the mental illnesses.
When asked about coping with bipolar disorder, Fisher wrote in her final Guardian column, “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.”
Cue the waterfall of tears! I’ve had my fair share of mental battles as an everyday high school student, but Fisher gives me more hope than I could’ve ever asked for. She gives me a semblance of feeling that I’m not alone in this, and getting help is nothing to ever be ashamed of. And that’s only one of the million reasons why she’s so missed.
Another is her amazing sense of humor with her ability to make people laugh even in the darkest of times. When her daughter Billie Lourd wanted to be a comic, she told her, “Well, baby, if you wanna be a comic, you gotta be a writer. But don’t worry, you’ve got tons of material: Your mother is manic depressive drug addict. Your father’s gay. Your grandmother tap dances and your grandfather eats hearing aids.” When her daughter laughed at the reply, she said, “Baby, the fact that you know that’s funny is going to save your life.”
But perhaps the most iconic story of all is the creation of her self-written obituary. She was told by Star Wars director George Lucas that she couldn’t wear undergarments in space. (When you’re up in the universe, you become weightless and so your body expands. Except your bra doesn’t, so you’ll end up getting choked by your underwear. It sounds insane but it does have some merit to it.). In response to that, Fisher stated that she wanted to always be remembered as having “drowned in the moonlight, strangled by [her] own bra” (Wishful Drinking, 2008 memoir).
So here is my bona fide farewell to a marvelous woman: goodbye, Carrie Fisher. Thank you for transcending societal boundaries and teaching us that it’s okay to be ourselves. We will always love and cherish the world you have left behind for us.