EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Her Universe’s Ashley Eckstein Talks Mental Health, Fandom and Ahsoka Tano

Her Universe’s Ashley Eckstein is a power house of talent that exemplifies what it means to be a leader, a creator, and an advocate for mental health. We got a chance to sit down and talk with Ashley Eckstein herself about her most recent Darth Vader breathing exercises, Ahsoka Tano’s journey, and the ever changing scene that is SDCC and the Her Universe Fashion Show. As always, Eckstein is honest, brilliant, and left us feeling like we can conquer the world, one step at a time! Hopefully after this interview, she’ll leave you feeling the same way too!

1. Mental health is an important part of who you are as a creator and advocate. And most recently you did a Darth Vader breathing exercise for Mental Health Monday. Can we expect to see more of these, especially during these trying times?

Yes, I will say in terms of…I actually don’t have a schedule of posts per say, right now. But where that comes from is I am working on a program. But I can’t share too much now. I’m working on a hospital program that has to do with mindfulness and exercises similar to what I shared with the Darth Vader breathing exercise. This has been a dream of mine for about 5 years now. But specifically, I’ve been working very hard on it this past year. And so stay tuned. It’s just the beginning of exercises like that from me. It’s not just going to be for hospitals. I hope to go around and share it online and go to schools.

I often say, take in the Star Wars comparison like I used for the breathing exercise. The mental aspect of being a Jedi is just as important as the physical aspect. And dealing with fear and all of these lessons that are very prominent in Star Wars, it’s something that’s very important to me.

So, stay tuned. I have been working closely with Disney and LucasFilm on a program that I hope to be able to share more details about soon.

2. What do you say to fans of Ahsoka Tano who are seeing her journey come to an end in the final season of Star Wars: Clone Wars?

When I say the final season, people panic and go like, “What?!” And I’m like no, no, no. It’s just wrapping up Ahsoka’s story in Clone Wars. I’m always hopeful that we continue to get more stories from Ahsoka because to me there’s so many more stories that we have to tell. But you know, when Ahsoka walked away at the end of season 5 in Star Wars: Clone Wars, we always knew that was never meant to be the ending. The fans knew, we knew as a cast and crew. We were already well into season 6 and so it was abruptly cancelled and it just felt like we had gone on such a long journey.

You know, five seasons of this show and we had invested so many hours of television into these characters. And especially Ahsoka and Captain Rex, their characters and their stories, because they were two new characters to Clone Wars. Their stories were just left hanging and so I’m so thrilled that we finally get the proper ending to this series that these characters deserve.

3. Your new Little Golden Book I Am a Padawan looks absolutely adorable and badass at the same time. Could you tell us a little bit about how this came to be?

I grew up reading the Little Golden Books. I actually learned to read because of the Little Golden Books. So this is like bucket list level for me. When LucasFilm called me and asked me if I’d be interested in writing a Little Golden Book, it was truly the fastest thing I’ve said yes to. I didn’t even think about it. I just said yes. It just flew out of my mouth.

It was definitely intimidating because it was the first kind of fiction story that I had ever written. But after a moment of panic where I said, “Oh gosh, I said yes to this. Can I do this?” I just kind of locked myself in my room one day and I binged a bunch of Star Wars: Clone Wars episodes and I picked out all of my favorite moments and lessons. This is a story about what it means to be Padawan, which is a student.

I got to go back and experience all over again these lessons that Ahsoka learns about bravery, knowledge, friendship, and failure. And all of these lessons, I got to kind of experience it all over again and pick out my favorite moments of the series to put into the book.

4. Do you think this Little Golden Book will resonate with fans?

I will tell you, I wrote it and it’s been several months since I saw it and read it again and it really touched me, especially in times like right now where we all need hope. We all need to be reminded to be strong and brave and all these lessons learned in the book. So it was actually really touching for me to read it as an adult. Like I went, “Wow. These are good reminders.”

In all fairness these are lessons that we see Ahsoka go through. So I’m just brought that I was given the opportunity to capture it in a book.

5. Her Universe has become a staple of SDCC. What can we expect from the show this year considering what’s happening in the world?

I will say that obviously we’re at the mercy of outside forces. Just hopefully we are all, fingers and toes crossed, hoping that we get to go to SDCC this year. But I will say that what we do have within our control, we already have a brand new collection designed that we plan to release at SDCC and also online.

Her Universe, first and foremost, is a community. It’s always been a merchandise line second. It’s a community first. And that, I’m so proud of my team. We’re a part of the Hot Topic family and we have an incredible team. And everyone is working really hard right now. Working from home, making sure that everything is still moving forward and staying on time. We’re adjusting and pivoting as we get updates about what’s going on in the world.

We’re adjusting our plans because we want to continue to build our community, even during times like this; times where we all feel so alone. So I will say, look for lots of Her Universe throughout the rest of the year and things may change depending on how our world is changing in terms of whether we get to do it in person or online or digitally. We’re still Her Universe strong and it’s really community first for us.

6. What do you do to keep grounded during this time of self isolation and quarantine and what advice do you have for your fans going through it as well?

Last week I was kind of brainstorming like, “What more can I do, especially with Clone Wars? How can I really, with these new episodes, share the excitement with the fans while we’re all sitting at home. And in turn what happened is that fans, even just showing me so much support, love, and kindness. What I’ve just witnessed in the past week is all of the beauty, all of the good, all of the hope, all of the light of our fandom and community. It’s just been incredible. 

Over the past couple of years there’s been so much talk about toxic fandom, but you know what, I still believe that that is the minority of fandom. The majority of fans are so good and so positive and so uplifting. And that’s what I want to talk about. That’s something we fiercely protect at Her Universe and also in my personal page. I have a no tolerance policy and it’s a bully free zone. 

If you come to our pages and are looking to start trouble, if you’re not being empowering, uplifting, and supportive then we will delete your comment immediately. There’s no place for that. And what I’ve witnessed the past week has been so inspiring. I’m so grateful to be a part of this community.

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