CS Interview: Ashley Eckstein Talks Voicing Ahsoka, the Clone Wars Ending, and Her Universe
Clone Wars actress Ashley Eckstein was kind enough to speak with ComingSoon.net about everyone’s favorite rebellious Jedi, Ahsoka Tano. The actress also discussed the Her Universe brand she created to combat bullying, her new Golden Book I Am A Padawan, which you can purchase here, and her experience recording lines for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
From Dave Filoni, director and executive producer of The Mandalorian, the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars will continue the storylines introduced in the original series, exploring the events leading up to Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.
The 12-episode season will feature the voices of Matt Lanter as Anakin Skywalker, Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka Tano, Dee Bradley Baker as Captain Rex and the clone troopers, James Arnold Taylor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan, and Sam Witwer as Maul.
Created by George Lucas, the show first aired in 2008 and became an entry point into Star Wars for an entire generation, following fan-favorites like Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Padmé Amidala, while introducing major new characters like Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex. It became a multi-Emmy winner and is now regarded as essential Star Wars.
Even though The Clone Wars will be having its epic conclusion this year, it appears it won’t be the end for the animated Star Wars universe as SWNN has also revealed that a sequel series to Rebels is currently in development to pick up the story of Ahsoka from the series finale and could premiere as early as this year.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars is currently airing weekly on Disney+.
ComingSoon.net: Ahsoka is one of the most popular characters in the Star Wars universe. What does she mean to you personally?
Ashley Eckstein: Ahsoka was first introduced to the world in 2008, but we actually started recording in 2006. I’ve been recording Ahsoka for 14 years. You could definitely say Ahsoka has become a part of my heart and soul. You could definitely say I’ve grown up with Ahsoka. I started recording Ahsoka when I was in my early 20s and I kind of went through a whole generation of my life Ahsoka. She has truly changed my life. Being a part of the Star Wars universe provides so many wonderful opportunities, but you quickly realize that it’s much bigger than you.
Star Wars means so much to so many people and I feel that being a part of the Star Wars universe comes with an obligation to pay it forward; an obligation to good with it. I often say, what would Ahsoka do? I’ve asked myself that for years because I feel that Ahsoka would always do the right thing. She would always want to help people and she would always choose the light. So, I kind of dedicated my life to Ahsoka and doing good with this platform Star wArs has given me. I wouldn’t change anything. It’s truly changed my life for the better.
CS: With your success, you’ve been able to do other extraordinary things such as the Her Universe brand, which you created to combat bullying. How important is that for you?
Eckstein: I’m so grateful to Ahsoka because I’ve always had a passion for helping people. That’s something my parents instilled in me. As an actress — I was a full-time actress in LA, doing lots of film and television and voice over. Ahsoka was my first big voice over role. You become so busy jumping from job to job and role to role … there’s very few jobs that give you the opportunity to completely immerse yourself in. Ahsoka did that for me. Being the voice of Ahsoka for so long and for so many years gave me countless opportunities to do good with it. And one those was Her Universe. Female fans were being ignored. The stereotype was that Star Wars was just for men and boys and that’s not the case. Fifty percent of all sci-fi and fantasy are women and girls; and women and girls who are being bullied and bullied terribly for liking Star Wars and liking these properties that we all love. You can’t put a gender on these stories. So, I started Her Universe to break the stigma as my answer to anti-bullying for women and girls and to say this world is for everyone.
Bullying falls under the broader umbrella of mental health, and I realized that our community really struggles with mental health. We all need to constantly check on our mental health – it’s as important as our physical health. So, I saw how important it was to our community to break the stigma around mental health. Star Was has given me a platform to be able to do that as well. Again, the roads just lead back to Ahsoka. What would Ahsoka do? Ahsoka would stand up for fangirls and those that don’t feel they’re voices are being heard if they’re struggling with mental health or mental illness. I’m so greatful for the opportunities being the voice of Ahsoka has given to me.
CS: That falls in line with your children’s book, I Am A Padawan. What inspired you to tackle a children’s book? And were you daunted by the experience at all?
Eckstein: Oh, I was definitely intimdated by that for sure. I had once said I would never write a book. I believed I didn’t have the talent for it. The most I’d ever written was an essay. So, I was perfectly happy no writing a book. But when I got the opportunity from Disney to share my story and write a non-fiction book called “It’s My Universe, You Have the Power to Make It Happen,” and I was terrified with that as well. But once I turned it in and once it got published it became infectious. I said, ‘I did it, and I want to do it again.’ I shared with Lucasfilm that I got to write this book and if there was ever an opportunity to write another one I would love the chance. And so they called me one day out of the blue and asked if I would consider writing a Little Golden Book, which I think it was the fastest I ever said yes, because I grew up reading the Little Golden Books. I literally learned to read on those books. I’m a big fan. It was definitely bucket list level to be able to write a Little Golden Book. It was definitely intimidating, but I had a day where I thought, I just need to share the lessons. What does it mean to be a student? Even though Ahsoka is in a galaxy far, far away, the lessons she learns are still relatable and relevant to kids today.
I just binged the Clone Wars, picked out my favorite moments and I picked out my favorite lessons Ahsoka learns throughout the Clone Wars and I put those in the books. Actually, it took me just a day to write it. I had the best time. I really hope kids enjoy it and learn a lot from it. And I hope parents enjoy it. It’s a good reminder for adults as well. It sure was for me. I did a live stream and read it on Instagram live and it was a good reminder to always have hope and always be brave and all these things that, no matter how old you are, are important to remember.
CS: Speaking about the Clone Wars, as most everyone knows, the show ended abruptly after Season 6 and then it was picked up for one more season. Now, here we are and it’s winding down again. Is it tough to say goodbye a second time?
Eckstein: It’s a lot of mixed emotions. It does feel final. When Clone Wars ended it was very sad, because we all knew that was neve meant to be the ending. And we all knew there was more story to tell, especially for Ahsoka. That was never meant to be her ending for Clone Wars. She never got a proper ending. So, there was great sadness when it ended and just elation and joy when I found out it was coming back. The past two years of getting to jump back into Clone Wars has been a gift. That’s the way I look at it. It’s a gift because it’s something we never thought we would receive. And now it is sad because it does mean that it’s over. It’s in our being – we don’t like endings. However, there’s also jy knowing that Ashoka did finally get her proper ending in the Clone Wars. As Yoda says, ‘Always emotion is the future.’ I do hope and believe there’s more stories for Ahsoka left to tell and I hope we get to tell them.
CS: You were given an opportunity to voice Ahsoka in The Rise of Skywalker. What was that experience like?
Eckstein: That was truly one of the highlights of my career. Being a Star Wars fan myself, not only as an actress was it really cool, but I was also proud of Ahsoka. She was forever cemented in the Skywalker saga of films. It was a proud moment for the character. And it was really cool to hear my voice up there knowing what that meant for Ahsoka. That she was speaking to Rey and that she was forever a part of that legacy. So, it will go down as one of the highlights of my career. I got to go to Bad Robot and record my lines and get directed by JJ Abrams. It was truly surreal. It was a day I will never, ever forget.
CS: Speaking of the live action aspect, Ahsoka will be appearing in The Mandalorian Season 2, but played by Rosario Dawson. Have you reached out to her to offer tips? Or have you been in contact with that production at all?
Eckstein: Unfortunately, I’m not involved in The Mandalorian. So, it’s not anything I could speak to. But I will say, if the rumor is true, then it means we’re going to get more Ahsoka. The character has always been bigger than just me. I hope her legacy continues. I hope to always be involved. She’s part of my heart and soul. I originated a character and been a part of it for 14 years, but I will always celebrate anything that has to do with Ahsoka. So, I will always celebrate anything that has to do with Ahsoka.
CS: Your career has spanned beyond just Star Wars with different shows and projects. Where would you like your career to go next?
Eckstein: That’s a good question. So many people have got to know me as the voice of Ahsoka and the founder of Her Universe, but what some don’t know is that I was a full time film and television actress before I became the voice of Ahsoka. My background is actually in live action and hosting and it’s really a passion of mine. What I’ve grown to love through being the voice of Ashoka and sharing her universe is using that passion for good. I hope I get to continue to do that. I love finding roles like Ahsoka where it gives opportunities to do so much more than just be the actress for it. That’s what I hope. I hope to use my background in entertainment, whether it be live action or hosting or voice over, I hope to continue to do all of it. But use it as a platform to do good with it and to help people. I actually do have an upcoming project I’ve been working on with Disney and Star Wars where we’re combining — where we’re working with children’s hospitals and combining mental health and mindfulness with children’s hospitals. I’m very proud of it. It’s some videos I’ll be hosting. I will say, as one door closes, another one (I hope) continues to open. I will always be grateful of the opportunities I was given in the entertainment industry.
CS: That’s perfect. And just so you know, I’m actually going back and watching the Clone Wars with my two daughters. They love Ahsoka. We appreciate what you do and all the entertainment a value that you bring us.
Eckstein: That’s so awesome. I love that you’re watching it with your daughters. Please tell them that Ahsoka says hello.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)