Carrie Fisher,  Like many icons before her, is now gone. While she did have a wide ranging list of credits, the role she will forever be remembered for is Princess Leia in the Star Wars Saga.

Before I jump into Star Wars love and go on about how important her character is, I think a few things need to be stressed. Carrie Fisher had a hard life. Not in terms of material wealth and most things we think of. No, her struggles came from mental illness and the troubles that come with it. Over the decades she used drugs as an escape as she battled bi-polar and eating disorders. She lived in a personal hell day in and day out. Yet, she never stopped performing. She never stopped being kind to the fans, and never forgot how fortunate she was coming up as the daughter of two Hollywood Icons. Despite that, she battled both addiction and mental illness. In recent years she finally started to recover, or at least be in a place where she found some comfort. She reprised her role as Leia and was getting the respect she always deserved. What’s more she began to become an advocate for mental health and reached out to many in need of help. She dispelled the notion that sufferers aren’t people, proving that their lives have meaning and value. At the same time she was very outspoken about Hollywood’s tendency to turn away from women over 40 and shrink the types of roles they can play. Mental health, age discrimination, and body positivity – these are important things she brought attention to and they must not be forgotten. With everything she went through and struggled with, she managed to stay as a beacon of hope for the hopeless.

The same can be said of her role in Star Wars. She was a Princess who showed many young children that even women can fight. She made it clear that women can lead and give orders. In the original trilogy she was a hero in her own right, not just some background character. Carrie Fisher stood out in a genre dominated by mostly men and it can be argued that Princess Leia paved the way for other strong female protagonists in film. She inspired young girls in an era where these things were simply overlooked. More recently, in her final role, she returned to the character of Leia. This time she was the leader of the resistance and without any question the matriarch of Star Wars.

Her legacy has been cemented and the hope and joy she brings to many will never be diminished. Whatever the future brings for Star Wars, she will always have a place and be part of that magic that made us all yearn for a Galaxy Far, Far, Away. Carrie Fisher wasn’t perfect and even she’d admit that first. But she was a legend and to some a hero. For all that she’s done in her life one thing is clear – the force will be with her… always.

– Aaron A. Alvarez