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The Importance of Leia Organa as We Approach Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia

I’ve been dreading going to see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker for only one reason: Leia Organa. A character that sparked a change in how many of us saw women represented onscreen, there is a beautiful legacy with her though her story is now, unfortunately, going to come to an end.

I’ve been afraid because I don’t want to say goodbye to Carrie Fisher, and I don’t want to say goodbye to Leia. Growing up, along with many other women in the world, I could look to Leia and see someone who stood up for herself, who saved the men, and who went from a princess to a general and was respected as a leader.

But Leia’s importance isn’t just linked to our own personal connections to seeing her onscreen. It goes far beyond that, and after Carrie Fisher died, Leia became even more of a figure for empowerment, and her face was plastered throughout the Women’s March. I myself went to the tattoo parlor the day Donald Trump was inaugurated and got “I rebel” tattooed on my arm in honor of Leia, Jyn Erso (who delivered the line that was then cut from Rogue One), and for the idea of what the women of Star Wars (and particularly Leia) taught me about opposing those men in power who abuse it for their own benefit.

Carrie, while she was still alive, shared her hatred of Donald Trump willingly, and it bled into the idea of many using her face as Leia as a means of representation. We can all look to Leia and see a woman who isn’t afraid of standing up against the odds and doing what’s right. Even when we met her, she was sitting in a dress after being tortured and watching her entire planet get blown up, and yet she was the strongest figure.

So, for so many of us, Leia Organa is more than just the woman in Star Wars. She’s the Hutt-slayer. She’s a Skywalker. I will always wish there was more we could have seen with her. Before Carrie Fisher passed, we were going to see Leia have her time as a true Jedi, and knowing that it was so close and that I could have seen someone I’ve looked up to my entire life stand proud among the men who had come before her would have been life-changing.

Instead, we now see Leia as a larger-than-life figure in a different way. She’s our symbol of hope. When we think about the darkness that this world has, the image of Carrie Fisher with her iconic space buns looms over us all, showing us that in the face of adversity, we can stand up, be strong, and do what’s right.

I don’t think there is going to be an easy way for us to look at Carrie Fisher or Leia Organa. I don’t think that there will ever be a time when I think about her and don’t get misty-eyed. Both Carrie and Leia have been my heroes since I was a kid, and her legacy will live on far longer than her time in the Star Wars franchise.

(image: Lucasfilm)

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Rachel is an I, Tonya stan who used to have a poster of Frank Sinatra on her wall as a kid. She loves superheroes, weird musicals, and wants Robert Downey Jr. to release a new album. She is Leslie Knope and she's okay with that. At least she gets to live in New York City though!