The Clone Wars' Ashley Eckstein Reveals Her Next Star Wars Project And How She Overcame 'Fears' For It

Ashley Eckstein Her Universe
(Image credit: Her Universe)

Star Wars Day has come again, and The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels actress Ashley Eckstein has some news worth celebrating this May the 4th. She has a new project coming to fans of the galaxy far, far away, and it's unlike anything else existing in the franchise. Star Wars Mindful Matters has officially launched as a new series that has been in the works for many years, and is hosted by the Star Wars fan-favorite. She opened up to CinemaBlend about the project, and how she overcame some fears to make it happen.

Star Wars Mindful Matters is a series of shorts that can bring out the inner Jedi in any Star Wars fans, even without existing a long time ago in that galaxy far, far away. Ashley Eckstein – who also founded the Her Universe company that puts on a popular fashion show each year – partnered with Lucasfilm and Citrone 33 for the project that guides viewers in mindful exercises. When I spoke with Eckstein for Star Wars Day 2022, she opened up about the appeal of Mindful Matters for franchise fans, and just how long she has been working on it: 

This has been a passion project of mine for the past five years, and this was directly inspired by the fans. You know, I've been interacting with Star Wars fans now for the past 14 years, and one of the most common questions, especially from kids, is how can they be a Jedi too? And Jedi Master Yoda says, 'A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind.' He teaches us that training our mind is just as important as physically training our body. And so these lessons of the mind are all throughout Star Wars. Learning to connect with your breath, learning to meditate, learning to confront your fear, learning to feel the Force and ground yourself in the present moment, the here and the now. Learning to have patience, learning to manage your emotions and understand your emotions. I mean, these are lessons that we already learn in Star Wars.

Ashley Eckstein has been part of Star Wars going back to 2008, when she debuted her now-iconic character of Ahsoka Tano in The Clone Wars film and then continued into the Clone Wars TV show. Ahsoka's journey has been long and complex (and still not over), but fans can appreciate some of the same principles of her Jedi training by focusing on mindfulness, meditation, and grounding in the present. The actress and Mindful Matters host continued, sharing that the series combines Star Wars with clinically-based exercises: 

I've always tried to relate with kids, and I take things from their everyday life, whether it be school, or emotions, or things that they're going through in their everyday life, and I relate those everyday life lessons to Star Wars, and lessons that our favorite characters have learned throughout the Star Wars stories. And so we, with Star Wars Mindful Matters, we're combining these lessons that we learned in Star Wars with clinically-based mindful exercises. And I worked with Matt Martin from the Lucasfilm Story Group, as well as Nationwide Children's Hospital and their On Our Sleeves movement for children's mental health, to make sure that everything was clinically-based, but first and foremost, that these are rooted in the Star Wars story.

The series is very much based in Star Wars, but the practices that Mindful Matters presents are also clinically-based in a way that can combine the Jedi teachings that fans love with the kinds of good habits that are helpful in real life. Episodes will release throughout the month of May on (and the first two videos are already available to celebrate May the 4th), but Ashley Eckstein explained that the project isn't just meant for children:

Now, these videos are for everyone. They're for all ages. But we do share the fact that they're for kids, because I want parents to know and teachers to know and kids to know that these are also for them, that I've made them relatable and understandable for kids. But just like Star Wars is, it's for everyone. It's for all ages. But, you know, I feel like the Force works in mysterious ways.

Star Wars wouldn't have become the cultural phenomenon that it is if it only catered to one age demographic, and Eckstein has plenty of experience in projects that may seem aimed at children but can be enjoyed by adults as well. The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels originally aired on Cartoon Network and Disney XD, respectively (and are now available streaming with a Disney+ subscription), but kids definitely weren't the only ones tuning in. Plus, Mindful Matters is finally debuting after some unavoidable delays, and Eckstein shared why now is actually the ideal time for the release:

We were one week away from filming these before COVID shut the world down. At first it was just devastating because we had worked for so long, and we were so close to getting them done. But I feel like we need these videos now more than ever. And as we come out of COVID, as we get back to our new normal and our everyday lives, everyone is coming out in a different place. Some people are a bit more cautious. Some people have different situations and fears and anxieties as we go back into our new normal in our everyday lives. These videos are just so helpful as we do that, as we come back into our daily routines. I really feel that these videos are coming out at the perfect time for fans of all ages.

Much of the entertainment industry was shut down due to the pandemic, starting back in early 2020. After everything that has happened over the time since, learning some new practices for mindfulness can only be a good thing, for adults and for children. Mindful Matters is a completely new undertaking for Star Wars, as well as for Ashley Eckstein. 

This was not only a passion project for her for years, but she also wrote the episodes. After becoming a Star Wars fan favorite for her voice acting work as Ahsoka, she shared what it was like to approach writing a project for the franchise, and it involved overcoming some fears. She said:

Writing for this project has been my own mindful exercise, because I came up with this project, like I said several years ago, but I just came up with the concept. And I once said that I would not be able to write these myself, because I didn't believe that I could. But as time went on, I've learned so much through Nationwide Children's Hospital in the On Our Sleeves movement. I've also had the privilege of writing a Star Wars book that will come out later this fall. And I've had to overcome my own doubts and my own fears about writing. When the opportunity presented itself to write these videos – I think because it was my concept, it was just expected that I would write them as well. [laughs] And I had a panic moment. I remember kind of locking myself in my own Jedi cave, a.k.a. my room, and I had just a weekend to write these videos. I was very proud that I was able to overcome my own fears and actually write these videos myself.

Ashley Eckstein overcame her own "panic moment" and fears about writing this project, and now viewers can check out the finished product for themselves. She wrote as well as hosts the shorts, and it turns out that doing so helped her to channel to spirit of Ahsoka Tano. She elaborated:

I feel very grateful towards Matt Martin, from the Lucasfilm Story Group and the entire Lucasfilm team, for encouraging me and believing in me to write these. I'm thankful to Nationwide Children's Hospital for teaching me these lessons and working with me to make sure these were clinically-based. And I just am so excited to bring these to the fans. Really, these are my own way where I feel that I can be a real life version of Ahsoka Tano. You know, Ahsoka says in the final season of Clone Wars, she says, 'In my life, when you find people who need your help, you help them no matter what. I guess it's just who I am.' And this is my own way, how I can help people, no matter what. In doing that, I had to overcome my own fears.

Eckstein previously opened up about the importance of Ahsoka representing hope in the final season of The Clone Wars (when things were looking pretty hopeless for the heroes); now, she can bring some of Ahsoka's best qualities to Star Wars with a different way of helping people.

You can find the first two episodes of Star Wars Mindful Matters streaming on now, with more videos on the way later in May. There are also plenty of ways to experience the highs and lows of the galaxy far, far away with Disney+, with The Clone Wars and Rebels featuring Ashley Eckstein both available streaming. 

You can also find fellow animated series The Bad Batch and Star Wars Resistance, as well as the live-action Book of Boba Fett and The Mandalorian. Plus, all eleven films can be found streaming as well, so there are plenty of ways to celebrate Star Wars on May the 4th and beyond! The days are counting down until the premiere of Obi-Wan Kenobi to revisit the era between Revenge of the Sith and Rebels

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. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.