Carrie Fisher: More than a general or a princess

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Perhaps one of the most famous actresses to come out of the “Star Wars” franchise is Carrie Fisher. Known for her iconic role as Princess Leia Organa in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, and then later given a more progressive title as General Leia Organa in the sequel trilogy, Fisher is well known for her role in “Star Wars,” one that she once described as following her around “like a vague smell.” However, there is so much more to her than just playing a general or a princess.

Besides her success as an actress, Fisher was a mental health advocate for decades. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her late 20s, Fisher was open about her mental illness and drug addiction during a time when both were heavily stigmatized, even more so than today. She was among the first celebrities to be so candid about her mental health struggles and drug abuse, often demystifying them through humor, doing much of her work in the 1980s and 1990s to normalize mental illness. Saying things like, “I’m very sane about how crazy I am,” and, “I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on,” so openly and so confidently helped erase some of the stigma that follows mental illness. She used her life and her humor to show that women with mental illness are so much more than their illness – they’re successful actresses, bestselling writers, dedicated mothers and any other job you could imagine.

Fisher often used her life experiences as an inspiration to further her writing, as she not only starred in movies, but she also wrote them. Fisher wrote the screenplay for “Postcards from the Edge” (1990), which was an adaptation from her bestselling semi-autobiographical novel of the same title, released three years prior. Numerous award nominations for the film include Meryl Streep for an Academy Award for Best Actress, and Fisher for a BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. In addition, Fisher was a successful script doctor for many years in Hollywood. Brought in to often rewrite and polish scripts, Fisher worked uncredited on a range of films, including “Hook” (1991), “Lethal Weapon 3″ (1991), “Sister Act” (1992), “Coyote Ugly” (2000), “Scream 3″ (2000), episodes 1 and 2 of the “Star Wars” prequels and more. Fisher’s success translated to books as well, as she went on to author multiple memoirs and novels, even adapting her one-woman stage show into her 2008 memoir “Wishful Drinking,” which then went on to be adapted into an HBO special. 

Ultimately, Fisher’s work as a writer and a mental health advocate has played such a significant role in shaping our own dialogues regarding mental health today and how important it is. She used her humor and wit to touch people around the world and normalize mental illness in ways that have forged how we can more openly discuss it today.

Contact Zachary Abuel-Saud at [email protected].