Carrie Fisher: A Legacy Greater Than Royalty
Carrie Fisher, for many, was merely Princess Leia Organa – a character spread across 4 (soon to be 5) science fiction films; a character that was a gamble on both paper and screen. But…making her debut in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, the Leia character would go on to fundamentally change the status and role of women in film and television for decades to come.
And little known actress Carrie Fisher would be cast to bring the role of Princess Leia to life – in a generation when women were still considerably supporting men on screen on a daily basis, and science fiction films had no defining female leads. Fisher was tasked with making all of us believe in a galaxy far, far away: a place riddled with bad dialogue, highly questionable characters, and multiple plots that were sometimes ludicrous on their very surface.
But Fisher succeeded – she made Star Wars believable and she made it relatable. But most importantly, she made it ACCESSIBLE to both boys AND girls, men AND women. Carrie Fisher’s portrayal of Princess Leia not only made this new Star Wars stuff watchable – she made it interesting and intriguing for girls and women across the globe.
Fisher was the daughter of veteran Hollywood actress and singer Debbie Reynolds, but that alone did not land her the job working for George Lucas on these films. She was still relatively unknown in the acting community, but you’d never know that from the way she commanded your attention, and the silver screen, in this her first major role as Princess Leia.
Both Fisher and Leia were fierce, unafraid, unapologetic, and brilliant. And Leia the character was all of these things on paper, sure, but she wasn’t a real, believable force to be reckoned with until Carrie Fisher brought her to life. Fisher’s performance as Leia across the Star Wars films not only changed the very foundation of the female’s role in films moving forward, but she would also unknowingly go on to provide a true role model for girls across the entire globe. By letting them know that the girls can hang with the boys, and at many times they were always much more smarter, tougher, and braver than their male counterparts, Fisher empowered them all to become something more than most ever thought they should be.
Because of Fisher’s brilliant and fearless portrayal of Princess Leia, girls, both then and now, would now have a touchstone to gravitate towards in film and a shining example of just how important and influential the female voice could become – Fisher set the very example they could all follow, becoming someone millions of girls could, and would, look up to for generations to come.
And Fisher’s groundbreaking performance would go on to directly affect me on a personal level, some 30+ years later…