“She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly”
A woman in a white dress looks afraid, but she has a blaster and zaps one of the Stormtroopers searching for her. This is our first real impression of who Princess Leia is. She is a fighter, someone that would punch the shark on the nose. This is true of Carrie Fisher as well – she was also a fighter. Anyone who had more than a passing familiarity with her life would be aware of the obstacles she overcame, I don’t feel a need to list them here. The point is that she and Princess Leia had a lot in common, they both had to dig down in tough times to find inner strength, they both had tremendous responsibility thrust upon them, and they both provided a role model that endures.
These were some of the thoughts running through my head while I stood in a long line of people waiting to meet Carrie, In Essen Germany at SWCEII (Star Wars Celebration Europe 2) in 2013. I’ve met a few celebrities and you can never really be sure how it is going to go. Are you going to practice something to say? Is that going to come off fake and ruin the moment? Are they going to be having a bad day, or just not care, or in the case of one other Star Wars celebrity – not look at you once while they are signing for you. Awkward.
For those of you who may not have done something like this yet, here is my free advice to you in case one day you find yourself lining up to meet your heroine. The first thing to understand is most of these conventions and fan interactions are under tremendous pressure to move through numbers – it’s a business. The second thing is that no matter how interesting your question or story might be, you’ve got however long it takes that person to write their name and that’s your lot.
The lady helping at the desk took my photograph from me and pushed it in front of Carrie, and took the items from the person behind me and pushed them over as well. This happened while the people in front of me were talking and talking to Carrie about who knows what, I could feel the moment sliding off the road, unable to do anything but go over the cliff too.
People say Leia barely used the Force on screen but I will tell you right now, Carrie used it twice this day. She must have caught my tension hitting about 9.5, politely cut them off and that was that- they no longer existed, she gave me her full attention and made me feel like we had always known each other. She had the ability to effortlessly make you feel important, and when our few seconds together were over all tension was gone – I’d just been chatting to an old friend, no big deal.
Later that day, I had a photoshoot with Carrie. These fan interactions follow the same rules as getting a signature, in short hurry up – NEXT! So watching people getting their shots ahead of me I prepared myself for all the many ways this could go wrong. Carrie was sitting in a chair as people filed past pausing to smile, then move off to collect their picture. My turn came and I measured my approach for the right balance of close enough but with respectful distance. Carrie must have thought I was too far away – her hand shot out and grabbed my wrist and in true Carrie / Leia fashion commanded “Come here!” Carrie yanked my arm so hard I nearly fell over on top of her, and stumbled into a hug which is a greater gift than I could possibly have asked for. Thank you Carrie.
This was the first time I met Carrie but it was not the last, little did either of us know there was to be a sequel…but that’s a story for another day.
The second meeting takes place here.