Interview with Ashley Eckstein of Her Universe
Ashley Eckstein practically grew up in Orlando’s Disney World. The actress, who is widely recognized as the voice of Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars and the founder of Her Universe in 2010, is now the author It’s Your Universe (Disney Publishing Worldwide), a book that inspires dream-setting using the lessons taught by Disney characters.
I had the chance to interview Ashley about her life at Disney World, what her Disney career means to her now and, of course, her new book.
“My dad was a Disney cast member, a meat and seafood buyer for the Walt Disney World resort,” said Eckstein. “I had no royal title, but sometimes I called myself ‘Princess Turkey Legs’ because my dad was a part of the original team that helped bring the turkey legs into the parks.”
Eckstein said her family never had extra, but always had ‘enough.’ “My parents always made sure we had everything we needed, but we didn’t have extra money to go on fancy trips, or travel all over the world,” she said. “But we didn’t need to because my dad, by being a Disney cast member, had what they call a Silver Pass, which gets your whole family into Disney World for free every single day if you want to.”
Her mom, an elementary school teacher, really took advantage of this opportunity. “She always took us to the Disney parks, the Disney resorts and the water parks.” said Eckstein. “She used Disney as an educational tool or, if they were filming a TV show and they needed extras she would take us. Disney was many firsts for me, including the first time I met Santa Claus and the first time I learned how to swim. My best memories are all because of Disney World.”
Eckstein knew she wanted to be an actress at an early age thanks to the Mickey Mouse Club live taping that she attended. “Seeing that taping made it real and tangible for me,” she said. Her first acting job was as an extra for a Sea World television show. “If you have a dream, seek out a tangible opportunity.”
Not only did she visit Walt Disney World on a regular basis, but she watched Disney on television all the time. “Disney was almost on in our household 24/7,” she said. “I also loved Star Wars, so literally, since I was a young girl, Star Wars and Disney was my life, so it truly is a dream come true to be working for both.”
Why did Eckstein decide to write It’s Your Universe?
“I started working with Disney through my Star Wars character, Ahsoka Tano, and they did an Ahsoka book and I was fortunate enough to get to narrate the audio version,” she said. “I went on tour with the author, E.K. Johnston and the book was number one on the New York Times bestseller list. It kind of proved that this fangirl market was a bit underserved.”
Eckstein proposed another book, but turned down Disney’s idea of a memoir. “I don’t feel that I’ve lived enough of a life, or achieved enough, to write a memoir, but,” I said, “If you would let me, the book that I would write would be more of an advice book on how to make your dreams come true,” she said. “The truth is I wouldn’t be doing this interview if it weren’t for Disney, because Disney truly influenced me and inspired me to make my dreams come true.”
It’s Your Universe not only discusses how to make your dreams come true, but Eckstein pulls in various Disney characters and their struggles with each piece of her advice, along with Disney quotes and lyrics from such songs as Hercules’s “Go the Distance.”
“This book is my ode to what Disney has meant to me, and I hope I can just pay it forward to a new generation of dreamers,” said Eckstein.
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