Princess Leia superfan remembers idol Carrie Fisher
'She was a person I admired and looked up to,' says Vancouver cosplayer
On the morning of Dec. 27, the day that Carrie Fisher passed away, Cassandra Munro's phone lit up with messages from friends around the world.
An avid cosplayer and lover of all things Star Wars, Munro has donned the hair buns and long white robe — as well as the revealing metallic bikini made famous by Fisher's role in the Star Wars saga — for sci fi and comic conventions over the years.
"Our group thread sort of started going off," she said.
"I'm sad that she didn't make it and she was so young. I'm just reminded of how she directly touched my life, She was a person I admired and looked up to."
Munro's fascination with the character began when she went to see Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977 with her mother. She was immediately captivated by the strong female character on the screen.
"Forget Luke, forget Han, I thought she was so awesome. She didn't take any B.S. from anybody and she could defend herself alongside everyone else," she said.
Made own costumes
Growing up in the 1970's, Munro said TV's Wonder Woman, the Bionic Woman — in addition to Princess Leia — were her role models, making Halloween her favourite holiday because she got to emulate the characters she so admired.
In 2002, Munro was inspired by Star Wars' costume designer Trisha Biggar's creations and decided to stretch her own skills by sewing her own costumes.
"I realized that it was this whole growing genre of fandom, that people were going to conventions and it was becoming more popular," she said.
"It was the Star Wars movies and costumes that inspired me to get into it a little more seriously.
"You'd go to conventions and you'd be inspired by other costumers wearing amazing stuff and then you would go and stretch yourself further."
Munro's online community of cosplayers and costumers reaches across the continent and as far as Australia, she said. For years they've helped each other top the best costumes from conventions past.
"A lot of these people I consider my best friends, so it's sort of beyond costuming now. You relate to these people with a shared hobby that you help each other out with."
Many of these friends reached out to Munro Tuesday when they discovered the news of Fisher's death, knowing how passionate she is about the legendary character.
Met Fisher twice
"I think she was really a fighter … She wasn't afraid to be open about her life. I know we're in a more open culture now than we used to be 40 years ago where people didn't talk about divorce or cancer or drug addiction.
"So, it is a sign of the times as well, but she was open about it, I guess in the hopes of helping others."
Munro met Fisher on two separate occasions at conventions in California. The first time she met her heroine was in 2006, dressed in Leia's classic costume complete with big hair buns and the long, white robe.
She remembers being in line with three other Leia's and waving to Fisher as she was escorted into the hall for autograph signings.
"I wanted a photo with her so, she was tiny, she leaned way over the table to get nuzzled up under my Princess Leia buns by my neck and put her arm around my shoulder," Munro said.
"Of course I was just like, 'Oh my God, she doesn't have to do this, this is really wonderful of her.' "
The second encounter with Fisher was at another signing in 2008 and Munro was dressed up as Queen Amidala, Leia's mother in the fandom lore.
Munro is confident that Fisher's legacy as a strong female role model, on and off the screen, will be carried on through her committed fans, and through her powerful interviews and books on addiction, mental health and feminism.
"It's still going to have an influence, I mean look how much she influenced my life from childhood and even again into adulthood," she said.
"That's going to happen for future generations, thanks to digital media. Her work is going to be preserved and she'll continue to inspire more kids."