It’s no secret that we here at Pop Culture Monster are huge Star Wars and sci-fi/fantasy fans. So, when the chance to talk to Ashley Eckstein, actress, internet entrepreneur and serial fangirl came up, we jumped at it. Since 2008, she has been voicing Padawan Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Noticing a lack of sci-fi merchandise for women, in 2010 Ashley set about making an online hub for women just like her to find merchandise and HerUniverse was born. Since then, the company has grown to not only include official Star Wars merchandise, but also SyFy shows like Warehouse 13 and Battlestar Galactica. We spoke to Ashley about her voice work with Lucasfilm, geek possessions and new projects she has in the works.
What’s it like to work on The Clone Wars? What was it like to be suddenly part of this huge geek franchise that you obviously loved growing up?
I’ve been a Star Wars fan ever since I was a little girl, so it is truly a dream come true to now work on The Clone Wars and to be a part of the Lucasfilm family. Being a part of the Star Wars franchise has been life changing, and I am so grateful to Star Wars fans all over the world for being so kind and welcoming to The Clone Wars cast and crew.
What’s the best thing about playing Ahsoka?
Wow, it’s hard to pick just one thing! There are several things that I like about playing Ahsoka but I have to say that it’s truly been an honor to help create an original character in the Star Wars universe. Most of the characters in The Clone Wars have been well established at this point and the fans already know their outcome or fate. To be able to work with Dave Filoni and the creators of the show on a brand new character has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience! It’s always very exciting to go into a recording session of a new episode to see what’s going to happen next!
What can we expect to see from Ahsoka as this season continues?
Ahsoka continues to grow up a lot in Season 4 of The Clone Wars. However, what sticks out in my mind is how skilled of a fighter she’s become. She especially shows her combat prowess in the episode “A Friend In Need,” when Ahsoka has to fight the Death Watch without help from the other Jedi.
Season 2 was a bit of a turning point for the older fans with Ahsoka. What do you think made them think, “Hey, she’s actually not that bad – she’s pretty cool!”?
In season 2, Ahsoka becomes less of the snippy side-kick and just one of the gang. She is given more responsibility in season 2 and I feel like she finally started to earn her stripes.
Alliance or Empire? Which would you choose and why?
Definitely the Alliance! I was always a Luke girl. I like good guys.
You got to work with Jessica Alba, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brendan Fraser and James Gandolfini for Escape from Planet Earth, how was that experience?
For some voice-over jobs, you do not record with the entire cast. Everyone’s schedules are so busy that they have to record the cast separately. However, most of my scenes were with Craig Robinson, from The Office, so we got to work together. He is so funny! It was truly an honor to be a part of this movie.
Can you tell us a little about the movie?
This is a new animated family film from The Weinstein Company and Rainmaker Entertainment. The story takes place on planet Baab where admired astronaut Scorch Supernova (Brendan Fraser) is a national hero to the blue alien population. A master of daring rescues, Scorch pulls off astonishing feats with the quiet aid of his nerdy brother, Gary (Rob Corddry), head of mission control at BASA.
We hear you’ve a new classic musical venture with The Disney Channel, any more info on that or is it still hushed?
Yes, I am working on a new show for the Disney Channel but that’s all I can say right now! I am a HUGE Disney fan and I love musicals so this is a dream come true!
Tell us a little about Her Universe… Why did you start it up?
Her Universe is the first merchandise line exclusively for female sci-fi fans. I discovered that close to half of all sci-fi fans are women (and I am one of those very passionate fangirls) and they weren’t giving us much to buy. We want to let our geek flags fly but we want to be geek chic at the same time!
You’ve teamed up with Syfy to include apparel inspired by BSG, Warehouse 13 and Sharktopus… how did that come about?
We partnered with Syfy last year. When I launched Her Universe, I felt that Syfy would be a great partner. They have a lot of fantastic shows and a lot of wonderful people behind the scenes that are huge sci-fi fans, too! I am personally a huge Battlestar Galactica and Warehouse 13 fan! I was thrilled to create merchandise for two of my favorite shows… and come on… who doesn’t secretly love Sharktopus!?
You have a men’s T in there – Shall we be seeing a few more men’s versions cropping up over time? Or will there be a His Universe, perhaps?
Yes, we have a men’s Sharktopus shirt but that is our only men’s shirt. Our message is that sci-fi is for everyone, not just men/not just women but everyone. They were not making Syfy original movie shirts for men or women so in this instance I wanted to make it equal. Most other sci-fi properties like Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica already make plenty of merchandise for men so I don’t see there being a His Universe anytime soon. We are primarily focused on providing merchandise to an under-served fangirl market.
If you had to pick one piece from the collection to wear every day for the rest of your life (you can have clean versions of the tees every day, of course!), what would it be and why?
I am always cold so if I had to pick a particular piece, I would probably pick one of our hoodie sweatshirts. We have a Star Wars manga hoodie and a Battlestar Galactica hoodie sweatshirt. They are so soft and so warm. I never want to take them off!
What is your favorite geek possession?
I am a huge Alice in Wonderland fan. I have been collecting Alice in Wonderland memorabilia since I was a little girl. I don’t really have one favorite piece because several of the items have a special meaning to them. However, I am in search for a giant tea-cup from the Mad Tea Party ride at Disney. That would be an amazing addition to my collection!
If a Pop Culture Monster were eating your house, what one thing would you save?
My husband, of course! He’s a lot tougher than I am so he doesn’t really need saving. However, in my dreams, I am not just the voice of a Jedi, I’m an actual Jedi and I would take my lightsaber and kill the monster!
Find Ashley on Twitter @HerUniverse
images courtesy of Her Universe and StarWars.com.