Princess Leia is a hero to many. I won’t deny that. And she is, in a way, my hero, too. But not just Leia. Growing up, I wasn’t ever really the girl who got the guy. I was the girl who was heartbroken who would use my comedy to write about it and make people laugh through my humiliation. That method of coping did probably come, in some part, from the way Carrie Fisher would write.
For as long as I can remember, Carrie was a hero of mine. She ghostwrote on some of my favorite movies, she brought me movies like Soapdish, and she showed me the power of words. Reading her novels (both her fictional work and her autobiographical ones) were a glimpse into the mind of the woman I looked up to. When I saw Bright Lights, the documentary that Carrie made with her mother, Debbie Reynolds, and her brother Todd Fisher, I was shocked at one point because Carrie Fisher says that she’s no one’s hero—that’s Princess Leia.
I was in the audience of the premiere for Bright Lights when fate would step in and let me ask my hero a question. I had some silly question about Reynolds’ Hollywood collection but before I asked, I stopped and simply said, “Before I ask my question, I just wanted to say something. Carrie, you said that you’re no one’s hero, that’s Princess Leia, and I just wanted to tell you that that isn’t true. You’re my hero and you have been for as long as I can remember, so I just wanted to say thank you.”
I remember realizing my other favorite, Marisa Tomei, was somehow in the row in front of me and turned around to clap at me, and frankly, five years later, I still haven’t unpacked that development. But that moment will stay with me forever. I got to meet Carrie Fisher one other time, when she was doing a signing for The Princess Diarist, and I brought that moment up and she looked at me right in my face and told me that she and Leia were connected. That I can have them both as a hero. Because she is Leia and Leia is her, and even though I wasn’t a princess who ended up strong and independent with a hot smuggler, I could some day. Carrie Fisher told me I was beautiful, and it’s something I’ll always look to when I’m feeling less than worthy. Sure, they’re just words, but if I learned anything from Carrie Fisher throughout the years, it’s the importance of what you’re saying.
One of the greatest compliments our Kaila Hale-Stern ever gave me was when she off-handedly told me that my writing reminded her of Carrie Fisher. At the time, I don’t know if she understood what that meant to me. How that’s one of the greatest things you can say to me, that any part of me reminds you of a woman who helped show me how to fight back and be fierce. I come from a long line of feisty women (my mother being my other hero and the feistiest of them all), but Carrie Fisher showed me how my words could fuel me and so to have any comparison to her? That’s like giving me the Golden Ticket.
And when she died, I felt like a part of my job was to remind people of her brilliance beyond what we knew of Princess Leia. The badass girl who went from the princess in a cell to a general and beyond, Leia is a huge part of Carrie’s legacy, but she is more than just Leia Organa-Solo.
And all of this, this love that I have and the appreciation for Carrie’s words comes from the fact that Star Wars gave me this character to look to. George Lucas made Leia a hero. She didn’t need saving, she didn’t really need the boys, and in fact, they’d be dead without her.
She was little, but she was as fierce as they came and she’d constantly strive to make the Empire fall because that’s who Leia was. And Carrie was, for the most part, similar. I often think about the tweets we would have gotten from Carrie Fisher during the downfall of Donald Trump. The anger she’d have and the sass behind the words. I miss them. I wish I could somehow just see one more.
Billie Lourd, Carrie’s daughter, shared this picture for May the 4th, and I just want to say thank you to Billie for sharing your mother with us all.
I’ll forever miss Carrie Fisher, but at least I know that she’s probably up in space, flipping Donald Trump off. But remember, she drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra.
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