Star Wars' Ashley Eckstein Shares Why She Slid Into RuPaul's Drag Race Alum Nina West's DMs And Joined Forces For SDCC's Her Universe Fashion Show

Her Universe's Ashley Eckstein side by side cropped with Rupaul's Drag Race Nina West.
(Image credit: Her Universe/VH1)

The Her Universe fashion show has been a fan-favorite part of San Diego Comic-Con going back to 2014, but the event hosted by Her Universe founder and Star Wars actress Ashley Eckstein hasn’t been in-person since 2019. After missing 2020 due to the COVID pandemic and then returning for a virtual presentation in 2021, the fashion show will soon be back in San Diego with the theme of “Coming Home.” This time, RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Nina West is joining Eckstein as a co-host, and Eckstein shared with CinemaBlend how their collaboration came about.

Nina West is a drag icon known for her appearance in Season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race as well as her music, activism, and advocacy. There can be no doubt that she’s a great fit for the geek couture fashion show coming to SDCC on July 21, but how did the connection with Ashley Eckstein of Star Wars: The Clone Wars come about? Eckstein opened up, saying:

Oh my gosh, I'm so excited! Nina has become one of my dearest friends over the pandemic. True to form, we met virtually. We did an event for Disney together via Zoom and then I slid into Nina's DMs because Nina is from Columbus, Ohio, and I do a lot of work with Nationwide Children's Hospital and their On Our Sleeves movement for children's mental health. Nina being an absolute icon in the Columbus area – I mean, Nina even has a street named after her in Columbus, Ohio – I reached out to Nina and I said 'Look, I know you're an advocate for mental health as well. I'd love to team up with you for On Our Sleeves.' And sure enough, Nina got right back to me and said 'Yes, yes, yes.' And we became Superheroes of Kindness together for children's mental health.

Ashley Eckstein and Nina West’s friendship doesn’t go back to RuPaul’s Drag Race or any of Eckstein’s many popular Star Wars projects, but because of their mutual support for Nationwide Children’s Hospital and On Our Sleeves. The actress previously told CinemaBlend how working with Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the On Our Sleeves movement helped with the planning for Star Wars Mindful Matters; as it turns out, the Columbus-based hospital and movement brought her and West together for a very good cause. 

Eckstein continued, explaining what fans and SDCC attendees can expect from them teaming up as Her Universe Fashion Show co-hosts: 

We finally got the chance to meet in person and just became the bestest of friends. So to be able to share the stage with Nina West for our show this year – I am just beyond excited. We promise a fun show. You know, we can't reveal our looks because they're always a surprise, but I can share that they're coordinating and we have a couple of them. We promise just a fun show. It's gonna be fun. There's gonna be laughs, there's gonna be tears. You're gonna jump out of your seat. There's going to be dancing. The audience is going to be able to walk the runway again. It's really just going to be a celebration of coming home to San Diego Comic-Con.

Surprises are in store with the 2022 Her Universe Fashion Show and its theme of “Coming Home,” but the preview of multiple coordinating outfits for Ashley Eckstein and Nina West is definitely intriguing. With the return to an in-person event, the fans and the geek couture designers will get the full experience with the runway and hosts.

The 2022 Her Universe Fashion Show returns to San Diego Comic-Con with geek couture designs from 26 designers on Thursday, July 21 at 6 p.m. PT in the Harbor Ballroom of the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel. The event is free for all attending SDCC, and welcomes people of all ages. Ashley Eckstein confirmed that the fashion show is following the Comic-Con protocols when it comes to the audience wearing face masks, but the performers on stage had the option to either go maskless or incorporate a mask into the design. 

You can also revisit Ashley Eckstein’s work as the voice actress of Ahsoka Tano with all seven seasons of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and all four seasons of Star Wars Rebels available with a Disney+ subscription. Season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race featuring Nina West is also available streaming for Paramount+ subscribers.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).