Yesterday, I finally got a call from Ana Martinez, the Producer of the Walk of Fame, after sending her several emails containing digital copies of the #AStarForCarrie petition and sharing my experience collecting (as of yesterday) 3,735 signatures from fans who believe Carrie Fisher is long overdue for a Star. My emails related fans chasing me down the street to sign the petition, little kids putting down their signatures in awe of their first participation in democracy, and my efforts to help the homeless folks who live on the Walk of Fame. In the last email I sent Ana, I re-explained that #AStarForCarrie is a nonprofit startup as well as a petition and asked if the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce would be willing to make a donation to the project.
Ana called me soon after I sent that email. She explained the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s rules (which I looked up when I found out Carrie Fisher didn’t have a star back in May before I started the petition).
“We don’t take petitions,” Ana stated. I perceived her tone as nothing but discouraging and condescending, yet I maintained positivity for my project.
“I know, I’m doing it anyway. #AStarForCarrie is more than just a petition…” I explained a concise version of what I’d already related via email, which Ana seemed to disregard. I find it a little absurd that an organization has a policy to not accept petitions. Feels un-American to me.
Ana insisted that “someone” will nominate Carrie when the five-year anniversary of her death occurs. I attempted to explain to Ana that the specifics of the #AStarForCarrie petition state that the fans disagree with that policy and believe it should be changed. Screenshot from the change.org petition:
“But that wouldn’t be fair to the families of celebrities who waited five years after their death to apply!” Ana replied.
“Exactly. The policy isn’t fair. Living people get them all the time, so that rule makes no sense.” I explained, in a neutral tone.
“That’s just our policy,” Ana said before trying to rush off the phone. I thought of the perfect reply to that statement several hours after this conversation. What I wish I’d said was:
“It was a policy to return runaway slaves until the Emancipation Proclamation. It was a policy for Jews to wear yellow stars during the Holocaust. It was an American policy to send citizens of Japanese descent to internment camps during World War II. It was a policy that only white men could vote until a century ago! Half a century for African Americans! Policies change as human rights are acknowledged!” I’m glad I maintained neutrality, but I’m keeping this in my back pocket.
“You seem to be the only one getting upset about this!” Ana continued, an edge of agitation to her voice.
“I’m not the only one who thinks it’s unfair. I have almost 4,000 fans who signed a petition saying it’s not. You seem to be getting upset you can’t give me a better answer than it’s just your policy.” I was getting a little upset that this conversation wasn’t going well. I assumed Ana would have acknowledged the valiant effort I’ve made for #AStarForCarrie thus far, been on my side about the feminist issues the project addresses, or at least give me a better answer than “it’s just our policy”. I also assumed the Chamber of Commerce would appreciate my outreach efforts to the homeless folks who live on one of the biggest tourist attractions in Hollywood. This is why I shouldn’t assume things.
“We don’t know if she ever wanted one!” Ana attempted to argue at some point. It is impossible to assume the wishes of the dead if no evidence exists one way or another, so she was correct in that statement. Yet again, I thought of a better response hours later. A star on the Walk of Fame is not as much for the artist whose name it bears, as it is for their fans.
When Carrie Fisher died, fans had to create one of those “your name here” stars in order to leave flowers, cinnamon buns, and candles, mourning their favorite Space Princess. Many fans are still shocked (and downright angry) she has yet to be awarded a permanent star. #AStarForCarrie is a symbol of equality Hollywood needs in the post-#MeToo era, but the movement around her star will be the true honor of her legacy.
After that brief and tense conversation, I had a good, hard cry while talking to Space Coyote on the phone. I eventually dried my tears, took a shower, and put on my Princess Leia costume to collect more signatures. I filled up two more pages. I received an email from Ana that said she wishes me “luck in all my endeavors.” I appreciate that. I’m going to keep sending her the petition forms.
I hold no ill-will towards Ana Martinez or the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. It takes a while for some folks to accept the way things have always been doesn’t have to be a permanent state of being. Policies change. Acknowledgment of inequities happens. People and organizations can and will evolve. I will continue to collect signatures on the #AStarForCarrie and #OccupyFamilyGuy petitions until these issues become impossible to ignore. I persist because I care about Women’s Rights, I believe democracy can make positive changes, and I’ve been metaphorically possessed by the spirit of General Leia Organa. She won’t let me give up.
If you would like to reach out to Ana Martinez and express your opinion about these issues, her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.