Star Wars Celebration VII

An Interview with Ashley Eckstein

Ashley EcksteinWe're delighted to be joined by Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ashoka Tano in "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" and the founder of Her Universe, a new "geek chic" line of clothing for fangirls and female sci-fi fans worldwide. One of the most exciting parts of the label is a line of Lucasfilm licensed Star Wars clothes that has fans buzzing!

GB: Thanks so much for spending some time with us Ashley. Let's dive right in. Obviously you were a busy actress before you got the gig as Ahsoka Tano, but tell us about the process of landing that role. Was it a "standard" audition type situation that your agent sent you out on or was it more complex than that? Obviously you had to meet with Dave Filoni, but did you have to audition directly for George Lucas as well?

AE: Thank you so much for having me! The audition process for The Clone Wars started out like any other audition. I was told that I was going in to read for the new Star Wars cartoon and that I would be reading for the part of Padme. I went into the studio and I met Dave Filoni, Henry Gilroy and Catherine Winder. As soon as I said my first Padme line, they stopped me and said that my voice sounded too young. However, they asked me to read for a new character. They did not tell me her name or who she was. I just knew that she was a 14 year old girl. I didn't think the audition went very well, but I ended up getting a callback. I went back in and I read for the same group of people. George Lucas was not there but it turns out that he listened to our voices after the callbacks, and he and Dave made the final decision. About a month went by, and I finally found out that I got the part.
Ashley Eckstein and Ahsoka Tano
GB: Okay, be honest... the first day of recording, how nervous were you?! I mean you're at LUCASFILM, and you're working with talented people like Tom Kane, Matt Lanter, Anthony Daniels and Cat Taber. It had to be a bit surreal at first to say the least!

AE: Yes... I was sooooo nervous! This was my first big voice over role! As a matter of fact, I didn't even know who I was playing until I showed up for my first day of work. That's when they told me that I was going to be the voice of Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker's padawan. I was shocked! I couldn't believe that they were entrusting me with this huge opportunity. They even wanted me to use my own voice and bring some of my own personality to the role. I was so nervous because I just wanted to make them proud and show them that they did not make a mistake by giving me this amazing opportunity! It was definitely a surreal moment!

Star Wars Color SurgeGB: My daughters (5 and 3) love Ahsoka. They hang on her every word of every episode! They even recently spent hours working on Clone Wars "Color Surge" coloring pages of her! Do you ever think about just how huge of an impact your work is having on young girls? Or is it almost too "big" to truly understand? I mean, you're helping give them an onscreen hero who's a strong, independent role model. Talk about girl power!!!!

AE: Before I booked the role of Ahsoka, I had done a lot of work for the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. I've always loved working with kids but, as an actress, I never understood the impact you could make in a child's life until I was in that situation. I realized that it was a huge responsibility, and one that I did not take lightly. I actually began to seek out more roles in family programming because I enjoyed the positive messages. Then, I fell into the role of Ahsoka and it was truly a dream come true. Ahsoka is definitely the type of character that I would have looked up to when I was a little girl. I was a total tomboy and instead of playing Barbies, I would play He-Man with my brother. It's such a great feeling to see all of the smiles on the kids’ faces and realize that you are impacting them in a positive way, especially girls. I feel truly blessed to have been given this opportunity.

GB: Speaking of girl power.... we were so excited when we heard your announcement about Her Universe! Despite Star Wars (and sci-fi in general) usually being associated with young males, something tells me you've got a pocket full of market research that says otherwise. We feel it's something long overdue for the fangirls out there. Tell us a bit about what sparked the endeavor and who's involved. Were you always passionate about fashion design?

AE: Four years ago, when I was cast as the voice of Ahsoka Tano, I scoured the Internet looking for female Star Wars merchandise and I was disheartened by the lack of product. I was told to buy a men's size "small" because there weren't enough women that would buy merchandise made specifically for them. I started doing my research and I found that close to 50% of all Star Wars fans and sci-fi fans in general are women. I also read hundreds of comments from female fans begging for merchandise designed and made especially for them, and not something that was an afterthought made in pink. That's when I decided to start my new company Her Universe. I found an amazing partner in The Araca Group and together we joined forces with Lucasfilm create this new line for female Star Wars fans. For me, this is a dream come true because I have always had a passion for fashion design. I designed my first dress when I was 10 years old and have been designing clothes ever since.

Ashley Eckstein Padme ShirtGB: Tell us more about the fashion elements you want the line to represent. It's being described as "geek chic". Can we expect lots of flash and glam with rhinestones and wild designs? Or will the line be simpler and more classic with softer colors and tones? Maybe some of both?

AE: Our goal for Her Universe is to provide merchandise for ALL of our female fans. In order to do that, we will be mixing different fashion elements to try and provide products for different types of fans. While I love the color pink, there will be no pink in our first collection! We are using darker colors like blacks, browns, grays and jewel tones. We are also using some of the same designs that you might see on a guy’s shirt. We are trying to create wearable art on garments made for the female body. There will be rhinestones used in our first collection on our hats. We are using real swarovski crystals to cover the Star Wars logo. Don't judge them until you see them though... they look very "chic"! Or should I say "geek chic" :o)

GB: So, from the initial info on the site, we've only seen tees so far. What else can we expect from the line over time? Outerwear? Hats? Accessories?

AE: For this first line of products we will also have two long sleeve tee's, a hoodie sweatshirt, hats and two necklaces. The goal for our jewelry line is to provide a mix of everyday jewelry with some replica pieces. We hope to recreate jewelry from the Movies and TV show with a Her Universe twist. We also plan to introduce cosmetics sometime in 2011.

GB: Will you have children's sizes as well? And how about merchandise for toddlers and infants? You know there are plenty of moms who would kill to put that Princess Leia onesy on their own little princess!

AE: We are offering certain styles in XS for our young padawans but we are not offering sizes for young children, toddlers or infants in the beginning. That is definitely in the plans as we continue to grow and expand. The more support we have from the fans, the more we are going to be able to make. The goal is to eventually provide merchandise for female fans of all ages.

Ahsoka Tano Ploo Koon T-Shirt GB: We noticed on the press image of your Ahsoka and Plo Koon tee that Dave Filoni's trademark "Plo Kool!" stamp is on there. Is that exclusive to that item or will that show up on more of the merchandise from Her Universe?

AE: Dave's "Plo Kool" stamp is on that image because he designed that shirt just for our line. I asked Dave to design something to reflect Plo Koon and Ahsoka's relationship. Just like Plo Koon found Ahsoka, I feel like Dave found me and gave me this amazing opportunity. I feel like I am Dave's padawan and I am honored that he would share his talents with us. We are also excited to announce that Katie Cook and Cat Staggs are sharing their talents with us, as well. They are each designing their own t-shirts.

GB: You were born in Louisville but you grew up in Orlando, Florida. Are you making plans to visit your old stomping grounds for Star Wars Celebration V in August? And are conventions something you enjoy doing?

AE: I am definitely planning to attend Celebration V! We will have a brand new Her Universe booth and I plan to be very involved at Celebration. I am also heading back to Orlando for all four weekends of Disney's Star Wars Weekends. I am hosting The Clone Wars: Behind The Force show for the second year in a row. Orlando is home to me, and I LOVE whenever I get to go back. I also love going to conventions. I really enjoy having the opportunity to meet the fans. We are also going to have our Her Universe booth at San Diego Comic-Con, Dragon-Con, Chicago Comic-Con and New York Comic-Con. Please stop by and visit us!

GB: For our readers out there that aren't aware, your husband is David Eckstein, who's currently the starting second baseman for the San Diego Padres and has a career .282 batting average and over 1,300 hits at the major league level. Between your two careers you guys must keep an insane schedule! How often do you get to see him play in person? And just think, if the Padres are in town during Comic-Con this year, you can work the show and then just walk across the street to Petco Park for the game!

AE: I actually get to see him play a lot! During the season, whenever I am not working, I am usually at a ball game. Unfortunately, the Padres do not play in town during Comic-Con but that would be pretty cool! I am a huge baseball fan.

GB: Finally, here’s our closing question we ask to everyone we interview at GalacticBinder. If you were transported into the Star Wars universe… what era/location and/or setting would you like to end up in, and what’s the first thing you’d do and with whom?

AE: I think I would actually like to be transported into the Clone Wars and I'd like to be another female padawan and go on missions with Ahsoka. I really liked the episodes with Barriss Offee and Ahsoka and I have been learning how to fight like a Jedi. It would be really cool to kick some butt!

GB:Thanks so much for being with us, Ashley! We look forward to the success of Her Universe and the further adventures of Ahsoka!

AE: Thanks again for having me and for your support! May The Force Be With You!


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