As a young writer I look to the 'greats' in the worlds of journalism, literature and film to see how real writing is supposed to be created. Nora Ephron's professional and personal accomplishments continually provide me, a humble 23 year old, with the perfect place to seek inspiration for turning my ideas into words.
My first Nora Ephron film was Sleepless in Seattle. It captivated me from my first viewing on a stormy Saturday afternoon, the perfect script with the perfect cast and the perfect ending. I quickly moved on to You've Got Mail, (another film which I can watch on repeat,) and the classic When Harry Met Sally. These three movies are for me, what watching a great piece of cinema should be- an opportunity to escape to another world and to dive head-first into a convincing and utterly charming story. The same can be said for Ephron's last film Julie & Julia, a magnificent journey into the culinary talents of Julia Child and Julie Powell.
I make no apologies for being different, and neither did Nora. Whilst my fellow high school classmates were captivated by the latest developments in the lives of reality television stars, I was discovering the magical world of classic Hollywood, and the films of Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. Jacqueline Kennedy continues to be a role model for me, and reading about her courage and bravery has provided me with comfort through some of the hardest times of my life. There is something about being different, an inner sense of power which brings the self-determination to stand up and be noticed. Through every corner of her life, Nora demonstrated this. She broke barriers with the publication of her celebrated series of essays, including 'A Few Words About Breasts' in 1972. She turned her life with Carl Bernstein into the movie Heartburn, and continued her success over the years with films such as Sleepless in Seattle, and plays including Love, Loss and What I Wore. Her successful career is what I expect, and hope, that every female writer would dream of, and certainly aspire to.
In her own words, Nora inspires me to be "the heroine of my life," to be a strong woman embracing challenges and to not be frightened by the future. She encourages me to break the rules, make a little trouble and to not conform to the expectations of others. I followed Nora's advice when I went to Washington DC to intern on Capitol Hill, a lone girl from Wales in the political centre of the world. I continue to shatter the expectations (and assumptions) of not too distant relatives by my political passions, a move which continues to bring great satisfaction and humour to my daily life. I am confident that I will continue to break the expectations of others through my choices, and at times, there is nothing which makes me feel stronger.
The world needs strong women who make no apologies for who they are and for what they believe. Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Meryl Streep and Margaret Thatcher are a few names which spring immediately to my mind, all women in their chosen fields who have broken barriers (and hearts) along the way. Nora Ephron is up there as a forthright woman, dedicated to making a difference and staying true to her beliefs.
It is hard to comprehend that Nora Ephron has passed away from this world. Her death feels heart-achingly personal, even though I was never blessed with the good fortunate to meet her. She was a permanent fixture in our ever changing world, her talent, wit and graciousness impacting upon all of us in some way or another. Despite her passing, I will continue to look to Nora for guidance in my career and how to be a strong, courageous woman in all corners of my life. There can be a piece of Nora in all of us, and if we find the strength to seek it, her life and legacy can truly live on.