During her hour-long panel at this year’s Emerald City Comicon, voice actress Ashley Eckstein shared some amusing anecdotes about how she landed the role of Ahsoka Tano back in 2006 and took the opportunity to answer fans’ questions about Ahsoka’s future, her thoughts on the Rebels season two finale, and her sci-fi clothing line, Her Universe.
But the part that perhaps stood out the most for me was Eckstein’s firm belief that “Ahsoka started a movement” and that the character she has brought to life on screen for the past decade represented something greater to fans, particularly the female fanbase.
“I’ve always been a Star Wars fan and Ahsoka, I quickly realized, was bigger than just the character. I think she started a movement.
I mean, if you look back to 2008…yes, there was Princess Leia and, yes, there had been Padmé but that was pre-Katniss from The Hunger Games, that was pre-Rey from Star Wars: Episode VII.
Ahsoka…was the first (female) Jedi that was a lead in the Star Wars universe and it was ground-breaking. And I realized that I had to live up to this character, that I didn’t want to waste this opportunity, and that there was a lot of good that could be done with this character. And so I’ve been trying to do as much as possible with the opportunity that’s been given.”
Later in the session, when asked by a fan how she had transitioned from voice actress to launching her clothing line, Her Universe, Eckstein replied that it all came back to Ahsoka.
“Star Wars is for everyone. You can’t put a gender on Star Wars. I came into the Star Wars universe as Ahsoka as a huge fan, I was going to all sorts of Star Wars events, and I wanted Star Wars clothes made for me. I went shopping and came up empty-handed. And I thought ‘Well, this isn’t right. There has to be Star Wars merchandise made for women’.
Back in 2008, there wasn’t. Literally…you would go on the women’s section of StarWars.Com and there was a bunch of men’s merchandise in the women’s section.
And so I did my research and found that half of all sci-fi and fantasy fans are women. I went to Lucasfilm and I have to give them credit. I said, ‘You know, half of your fanbase is women and you’re not catering to them. And now here’s this…now fan-favourite character that is the first Jedi that’s a female, that’s a lead, in your universe…and there’s nothing for girls’.
And so, business-wise, once I went about it the right way, they were incredibly supportive and I have to give Lucasfilm credit because they were really the first franchise that said ‘Yes. We recognize our female fans and we want to make sure to cater to them’.
So to me, I’m just living up to Ahsoka Tano. I mean, she truly started a movement and really has paved the way…where characters like Rey and Jyn upcoming from Rogue One are now possible. And so I’m just honoured to be associated with the character and to have that opportunity.”
Not bad going for a character that was initially derided by critics as being the “new Jar Jar”.
So, do you agree with Ashley Eckstein’s statement? Did Ahsoka pave the way for other female leads in the Star Wars universe? Feel free to share your thoughts below!