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More Than Just a Princess: Remembering Carrie Fisher

January 18, 2017

Carrie Fisher, legendary “Star Wars” actress, dies at age 60. Photo adapted from ABC News

Just as we thought we were finished saying goodbye to beloved celebrities in 2016, four days before the year ended the world mourned the death of Carrie Fisher. Fisher was known largely for her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars series. Costars, celebrities, and the public posted their thoughts and tributes of what Carrie Fisher meant to them. Across social media, many users posted their favorite picture of Fisher in The Star Wars series. Carrie Fisher, though, was much more than a strong rebel princess. Here are 5 reasons to celebrate Carrie Fisher as a cultural icon.

  1. A Heroine Princess for Everyone

Fisher continually talked and wrote about her insecurities about her looks and acting abilities when she was cast as Princess Leia at only twenty years of age. “I was told to lose 10 pounds when I got the part in “Star Wars” and I couldn’t ‘cause I weighed 105 at the time.” Fisher explained in a 2011 interview with New York Live. Like Princess Leia, Fisher was strong, tomboyish, brave, but not afraid to be vulnerable and show the world her true self.  The blend between Carrie Fisher and Princess Leia made both character and actress a pop culture icon and a timeless heroine.

  1. By Merit and Merit Alone

Despite Fisher being born into old Hollywood royalty (her mother was Debbie Reynolds), Fisher rose to power not because of her family name, but by her own acting talent. Aside from her role in Star Wars, Fisher stared in The Blues Brothers, When Harry Met Sally, Hannah and Her Sisters and Amazon’s Catastrophe. In addition to her novels and memoirs, Fisher for many years worked behind-the-scenes polishing scripts as a “script doctor” for such movies as Sister Act, The Wedding Singer, and Hook.

  1. An Open Book to the World

Even before her tell-all memoirs, Wishful Drinking and The Princess Diarist, Fisher was honest and open about all her mistakes. Her novel Postcards from the Edge is based on her life and explores her history of drug addiction and complicated relationship with her mother. Postcards from the Edge was critically acclaimed. It was turned into a movie with a screenplay written by Fisher and starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.

  1. A Mental Health Advocate

Fisher was very open about her diagnosis of bipolar disorder and was a prominent advocate for mental health awareness. In the world of Hollywood where tabloids and rumors can ruin your image, Fisher’s candid discussion about her bipolar disorder and history of substance abuse offered people hope and a chance to destigmatize bipolar disorder. Dr. Terence Ketter, a professor of psychology at Stanford and chief of their Bipolar Disorder Clinic, tells PEOPLE how impactful it can be for a high-profile artist like Fisher to be so frank and honest about mental health struggles.

“Ms. Fisher was an important advocate in terms of decreasing the stigma surrounding bipolar disorder,” Ketter says. “One of the things she did was medicalize the problem and not see it as a character flaw. Making bipolar disorder like any other medical disorder decreases stigma. And linking it to creativity – but not romanticizing it – helps show that there might be some kind of a silver lining.”

  1. Always Unapologetically Herself

From her 1978 appearance on SNL to the press conference and book tour for The Force Awakens and The Princess Diarist respectively, Carrie Fisher always had a great sense of humor and was never afraid to make fun of herself. Whether giving interviews accompanied by her service dog, Gary, or prolifically posting to Twitter with emojis as letters, Fisher was unique, unpredictable and honest. There will never be anyone like her.

Preliminary research for this article comes from The Princess Who Became a Queen by Kevin Fallon published on The Daily Beast and 10 Reasons Why Carrie Fisher Was Much More than Princess Leia by Kristi Turnquist published on OregonLive.

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