The sign of a great actor is the ability to so captivate an audience that you no longer see the actor but only the person he or she plays.
The sign of a great person is the ability to allow people to see past your flaws and failures, into the heart that moves you.
Carrie Fisher was the rare instance of being simultaneously a great person and a great actor. Yet, even more astonishingly, she overcame being known for one of the most iconic characters of all time to become a pop culture icon in her own right.
Most certainly she will be remembered as a princess. Without a doubt her quippy interviews will be YouTube gold for generations to come. But it is not her wit or acting that I will tell my children about. It is her will.
Her will to overcome. Her will to persevere. Her will to love. Her will to honor where she had been. Her will to accept where she was going. Her will to share. Her will to help. Her will to be a role model for so many struggling with battles of mental health.
Mental health is often shrugged off, commonly laughed at, and far too undervalued. It takes people who’ve suffered from mental illness to stand up and say, “No more!” to change the paradigm.
Carrie did that. To those suffering mental health issues, she was far from a princess on screen. Her willingness to speak about her struggles with bipolar disorder, drugs, depression, and such of the like, made her a queen for those of us in the same boat.
Personally, she inspired me to speak out about my issues with anxiety, depression, and an eating disorder. She was a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, someone who had overcome and was overcoming by standing up and speaking out to change the stigma.
Carrie had iconic roles from the legendary Princess (General) Leia, to a crazy killer in the Blues Brothers, and bit parts like being a doctor in Fanboys. They alone would have made her legendary, and to some they did. Nonetheless, when the history books write of Carrie Fisher, may they write primarily about her rebellion not onscreen, but off of it.
We love you, Carrie Fisher. May our lives reflect your example. The Force is stronger now that you are one with it. Rest In Peace.