Rcently I got to speak with the lovely and talented Ahley Eckstein. Ashely provides the voice for Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and also has a line of merchandise for female star Wars and Sci Fi fans from her company HER UNIVERSE. I want to thank Ashley for taking the time to speak with us.
What can you tell us about your new line of clothing and what drew you to create it?
Her Universe is the first merchandise line made exclusively for female Sci-Fi fans! Close to half of all Sci-Fi fans are women and they weren’t giving us anything to buy. Selfishly, as a fan myself, I wanted Star Wars shirts that were made for women and I was tired of shopping in the boys section when I wanted to show off my love for my favorite franchise. I quickly found out that I was not alone and I thought that someone had to make a change. I had some connections at Lucasfilm through my role as the voice of Ahsoka and I was able to convince them to give me shot to design merchandise for their female fans. That’s where Her Universe began.
What are the biggest obstacles with launching a clothing line?
One of the biggest obstacles in launching a clothing line is making people aware that you even exist. We are also fighting against a major stereotype in the fact that the Sci-Fi world has been dominated by men’s merchandise for so long, that the women aren’t even looking for us. We rely heavily on social media, conventions and word of mouth to let fangirls and fanboys who want to buy for the fangirls in their life know that we are now available.
What are some of the items you plan to offer and where can fans get it?
We currently have two major licenses, Star Wars and the Syfy properties like Battlestar Galactica and Warehouse 13. We provide apparel and jewelry for these licensed properties on female garments in a variety of sizes. We also offer kids sizes in two styles. Fans can buy our products coming up at New York Comic Con in October, HerUniverse.com and at SyfyStore.com. We are also in talks with several exciting partners who want to carry our product in the broader retail space.
What attracted you to The Clone Wars?
As an actress, having the opportunity to work on anything associated with Star Wars and George Lucas is an honor, so when my agent called with an audition for a new Star Wars cartoon, I definitely jumped at the chance. I originally went in to audition for the voice of Padme and when they heard how young my voice sounded, they asked me to audition for this “new character” instead. I later found out that the new character was Ahsoka, but that was after I had already booked the part. They kept it extremely confidential and I had to keep my role a secret for two years until the series premiered in theatres and on Cartoon Network.
What sort of research did you do?
Of course I re-watched all of the movies once I started working on the show, but the best research I could do is just to listen to our director, Dave Filoni. When Dave talks, I am like a sponge and I soak in all of the information. Dave is like a walking encyclopedia for all things Star Wars and before we record every episode, he gives a dissertation on what the episode is about. It’s fascinating to listen to him talk. Any question you have about Star Wars, just ask Dave!
Are you a tech head or gamer in real life and what do you like to do in your spare time?
I must admit that I am not very technical and I lost all of my video game skills after the age of 12, when I fell in love with acting and spent every waking moment at a theatre. However, I have always had a love of sci-fi and fantasy. My imagination knows no bounds and I have always taken to this genre. I’ve always been the person who beats to their own drum. Not really caring what other people think.
How much interaction do you get with the Clone Wars cast and any fond moments you can share?
We have a lot of interaction as a cast. From the beginning we’ve always had cast records. It’s kind of like an old radio drama. We have become such a tight knit family after working on The Clone Wars for almost 6 years! I think my fondest moments are when we get to go to events together like Disney’s Star Wars Weekends. It doesn’t feel like work! It’s like being able to go on vacation with some of your best friends.
How much time do you have between Clone Wars episodes to prepare for the next episode?
It depends…sometimes only a couple of days and sometimes a couple of months. Ahsoka is not in every episode, so I am not at every single record. I think the thing that would surprise most people is that we get our scripts when we walk into the studio to record. We usually do not get our scripts ahead of time. So you definitely have to be a quick study and be able to take direction well on the spot without having time to practice.
What can you tell us about what is ahead for Ahsoka in Season 4?
Season 4 of Star Wars The Clone Wars is going to be action packed! It’s all about the battles! Ahsoka kicks butt in Season 4 and we will continue to watch her grow and mature. While Ahsoka is fierce on the battle lines she will struggle with some teenage emotions this season. She has to act well above her age most of the time but in an upcoming story arc, she will wrangle with some age appropriate emotions that catch her by surprise.
How much input do you have in the character and her development?
I have a lot of input on how I deliver my lines and on Ahsoka’s attitude but I do not have any input in her storylines or the writing of her dialogue, and I am perfectly fine with that. We have some of the best writers that work on our show and Dave Filoni cares deeply about Ahsoka and her story. My ideas or storylines would seem so amateur compared to anything that they come up with. Our characters are in very good hands with Dave and his crew.
Have you gone over her final fate yet?
I have no idea what will happen to Ahsoka. I have heard all of the theories, but if something has been decided upon already, I am not aware of the outcome. Of course the thought of anything bad happening to Ahsoka makes me sad, but I want what’s best for the overall Star Wars story. I trust Dave Filoni and I can promise you that what he and his writing staff will script for Ahsoka is way better than anything I would ever write!
Have you handled being embraced by fandom and doing conventions? Any fun convention stories?
Being a part of the Star Wars Universe has changed my life. I never imagined that the second they announced my name as the voice of Ahsoka Tano, I would have legions of supporters who automatically had my back. It was incredible! Two weeks after the movie premiered in theatres I was receiving fan mail from all over the world. I love going to conventions and interacting with all of the fans, especially the kids. The Clone Wars has introduced Star Wars to a new generation and I LOVE going to the conventions and meeting all of the kids who are discovering George Lucas’ amazing Universe for the first time.