Just days before Billie Lourd’s mother, Carrie Fisher, and grandmother Debbie Reynolds tragically passed away within days of each other in December 2016, both women left the budding actress, 25, with words of wisdom.
“Debbie was still encouraging me to put an act together. Literally three days before she died, she was like, ‘What numbers are you going to put in your act? Who are you going to impersonate?’” Lourd recalled in the September issue of Town & Country. “I said, ‘I don’t think people do acts as much anymore.’ And she came back, ‘That’s why if you do one you’ll be more successful than anyone else. The act is a dying art, and someone needs to revive it.’”
Lourd’s final in-person interaction with her mother was similarly inspiring. “The last time I saw her in person, this episode of Scream Queens was on, and it was a big episode for me. I had tons of scenes, and I was so hard on myself about it — I hated how I looked, hated my performance. I was really frustrated,’” she explained. “She told me, ‘Come over right now. I want to watch this with you.’ And she made me sit down and watch it, and she forced me to see the good parts. She was incredible like that. But she was really hard on me, saying, ‘Shut up, you’re great in this. Have faith in yourself. Be more confident.’”
Aside from helping Lourd feel strong within her craft, the iconic late Star Wars actress also greatly shaped her daughter’s personality from an early age. “I remember a time when I was nine years old. I got in trouble in school for stealing something out of someone’s backpack, and she picked me up and she sat me down in the car,” Lourd recalled. “And she turned to me and said, ‘Are you going to grow up to be an asshole?’ And I started crying. She talked to me like an adult my whole life. I always think that now: I don’t want to grow up to be an asshole!”
The Scream Queens actress, who will star in American Horror Story’s latest cult installment, is looking to continue her family’s incredible legacy while also stepping into her own light. “I’ve always kind of lived in their shadows, and now is the first time in my life when I get to own my life and stand on my own,” Lourd told Town & Country. “I love being my mother’s daughter, and it’s something I always will be, but now I get to be just Billie.”
Still, the actress notes the weight that comes with carrying on in the family business. “It’s a lot of pressure, because she had such an incredible legacy,” Lourd added. “And now I have to uphold that and make it evolve in my own way.”
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