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Former film star Carrie Fisher to speak on personal wars with addiction, stress at Ohio State

Courtesy of carriefisher.com

Carrie Fisher has been through a lot since she played Princess Leia in George Lucas’ “Star Wars” trilogy. Since facing challenges with addiction, bipolar disorder and trauma, the actress has returned with a new hope and is sharing her story with Ohio State.

Fisher is scheduled to visit Ohio State for the first time at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Mershon Auditorium.

“Don’t be ashamed of anything,” Fisher said in an email interview with The Lantern. “Whatever you have. If you can claim it, it has less power over you.”

Karen Simonian, director of media and public relations for the Wexner Center of the Arts, said that advice meant a lot coming from Fisher, who has spent time in a mental hospital, struggled with addiction and bipolar disorder, and then turned around and made all her experiences public by writing books and Broadway plays about them.

“Carrie Fisher is very open and frank about her life,” Simonian said. “She doesn’t seem to hold anything back.”

This openness about some of life’s more traumatic experiences is part of what Simonian said made the Wexner Center and Wexner Medical Center organizers want Fisher to speak for their collaborative event.

Proceeds from “An Evening with Carrie Fisher” will benefit the Wexner Center and the Medical Center’s Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program. Simonian said this year will be the Wexner Center’s second year partnering with the STAR Program.

The program is an initiative of the Medical Center and OSU’s Department of Psychiatry, and was originally created because a more holistic approach was needed to address the psychological impact of an accident, said Holly Kastan, director of planning, development and outreach for the STAR Program.

“Stress and trauma are on a continuum,” Kastan said. “We are concerned with building an environment that is supportive and trauma informed. … Education is a big part of what we do.”

Kastan said Fisher, a cultural icon and advocate for eliminating the stigma around gaining access to health care, was the perfect person to help educate the OSU community. Simonian agreed.

“We set out to look for somebody that would make … an exciting speaker and somebody who had had problems (dealing with stress and trauma),” Simonian said. “She’s been very outspoken about the need for better acceptance.”

Fisher has written two books, “Shockaholic” and “Wishful Drinking,” the latter of which was also an award-winning solo Broadway show, that takes a funnier spin on her experiences with stress and trauma. “It shows her courage and how strong she is that she’s willing to step up and speak up on this issue that is important for so many people,” Kastan said.

Fisher said she was never good at being ashamed.

“It seemed like things came out anyway, so why not come out with them,” Fisher said. “If it’s gonna be out there, I’d rather it be my version.”

Kastan declined to disclose how much it cost to bring Fisher to OSU, but did say expenses were shared between the Wexner Center and the STAR Program.

Organizers set a goal to raise $300,000, and as of Tuesday, they were at about $320,000, Kastan said. Last year, more than $250,000 was raised for the STAR. Ticket prices range from $45 to $75. Student tickets were still available through D-Tix Tuesday.

Erin Moriarty, a CBS News correspondent who attended OSU for undergraduate and law school, will join Fisher.

Moriarty said she’s looking forward to the event because Fisher knows how to reach an audience.

“Unlike a lot of people, she’s willing to talk about the events in her life, not all positive,” Moriarty said of Fisher. “She’s a one-woman show, trust me. She knows how to talk publicly.”

Moriarty typically covers trials for CBS and said she’s used to an unpredictable life. But doing an event with Fisher will be a nice break, she said, because there is a lot of pain and stress in covering trials every day.

“Carrie Fisher is a very welcome relief in many ways,” she said. “She’s an ideal interviewee … she’s a performer … she’s a really good writer, funny and interesting.”

Fisher said that like Moriarty, at least one of her emotional stresses stemmed from something she used to do almost every day, when she had to wear those signature Princess Leia hair buns.

“There was no physical pain,” Fisher said. “Only mental because they looked so bad.”


This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: May 23, 2012

An earlier version of this story stated that the STAR Program is an initiative of OSU’s Department of Psychology. It is an initiative of OSU’s Department of Psychiatry. 

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