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Preparing for Course of the Force with Ashley Eckstein

Course of the Force is just around the corner, and if you expect to carry that lightsaber on one of its quarter mile increments (Register now if you want that privilege), you need to make sure you are in Jedi-like condition. Recently announced Course of the Force co-host Ashley Eckstein knows a thing or two about preparing to be a Jedi, since she portrays Padawan Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Ashley also knows a few things about dressing for an occasion, which is why we’re giving away a collection of t-shirts from the actress’s Her Universe clothing line. Continue on for more info on why Eckstein is jazzed for Course of the Force and details on her unique lightsaber collection.

Nerdist: What kind of preparation does someone need to go through to be a Jedi?

Ashley Eckstein: After working on Star Wars: The Clone Wars for six years… you know Ahsoka’s a Padawan, and I’ve grown as a Jedi-in-training similar to Ahsoka. So I’ve been learning episode by episode just as Ahsoka has, and I’ve seen becoming a great Jedi is just as much mental as it is physical. You have to have patience. You have to practice quieting the mind, being aware of your surroundings, and you also have to be in physical shape as well, and play to your strengths. Ahsoka — what makes her such a powerful Jedi is, obviously she’s so small, but she uses that to her strength. She’s very agile, she’s very catlike, and so I’ve learned to be realistic with yourself and take what your strengths are. If you’re small, be very nimble, be very agile. If you’re big, clearly you can use your strength and your size to your advantage. Train to your physical strengths, whatever they may be, and also don’t forget about the mental aspect of being a Jedi as well.

N: What are you looking forward to during the events of Course of the Force?

AE:  I’m definitely looking forward to being at each stop and showing what’s going on. There’s going to be unique experiences at each Conival, and I look forward to bringing to the audience the exciting events at each party.

N: We hear you have an impressive lightsaber collection. Which sabers do you own?

AE: You know, I have a couple lightsabers. I actually have Ahsoka’s toy lightsaber, which is her exact handle, and that’s just the toy version, the inexpensive version. But it’s very cool because that’s Ahsoka’s lightsaber. I also have the higher end version, which is the exact replica that EFX Collectibles did, which is very cool. It’s her handle, but it doesn’t have the actual saber on it. And then of course I have other lightsabers that are not Ahsoka’s that I play with as well. My husband David, when he played for the Padres, they took his baseball bat and painted it to look exactly like Ahsoka’s lightsaber and we took ten of them, had them signed and we raised money in an auction for several different charities. I purchased one of the bats, so I also have Ahsoka’s lightsaber as a baseball bat.

N: Is there anything you recommend people do if they really want to get into the role of a Jedi?

AE: You definitely have to start with the basics. I’ve actually found a great taekwondo martial arts school here by my home. I’ve gone with my nieces and nephews, they’re actually black belts in taekwondo for their forms, and I’ve gone to some classes with them and learned the basics of Jedi training, Because you have to know the basics to be a part of a bigger Jedi battle. Definitely in your town, find a good martial arts school and you can learn some weapons training there, which is the basis for learning lightsaber training.

N: What do you like about doing Star Wars events more, celebrating your own love of the franchise or seeing other people get to celebrate?

AE: I would say it’s both. For me, I’m just as much of a fan as the fans that I’m meeting, so I’m truly excited to be at these events, because I would be there anyway. Whether I were co-hosting or working them or not, I would be at these events, because I am a huge Star Wars fan and huge sci-fi fan. To me, that’s really cool that not only do I get to be a part of the event and be there to work it, I also get to be there as a fan. And then, to meet other fans, it’s really exciting because I feel like I’m building friendships with other fans. It’s kind of like one big collaboration of nothing but passion and excitement, because we’re all so excited about the same things. I would say my favorite part is meeting the kids, because The Clone Wars, after working on the show for so long, it’s really introduced Star Wars to the new generation, and there are some kids who have never actually seen the movies. They’ve only seen Star Wars: The Clone Wars and to them, that’s Star Wars. To introduce Star Wars to a new generation and meet these kids and be able to be a positive influence on these kids truly means the world to me. And to instill the Jedi way into these younglings, into these Padawans, it’s just really special, because Star Wars is such a positive story. It is a story of hope, it is a story of good overcoming evil and I think that’s something that we can definitely instill in our kids today and to even have a small part in that is truly an honor. I’m just truly geeking out on the inside when I’m at these events.

N: What do you hope people take away from the events you participate in?

AE: When I meet people at an event I hope they take away a love of Star Wars. I hope they take away a love of the geek and nerd culture all together and that’s definitely through the Nerdist, I mean you guys do such a great job at bringing all things in this genre to the masses. I also hope that they take away a love for this special charity. I’ve been involved with Make-A-Wish Foundation for years. I’ve been involved in multiple jobs that I’ve done, especially through Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Every year at Disney’s Star Wars Weekends, we get to meet with several Make-A-Wish families that come down to the event, and it’s something that’s truly near and dear to my heart. I’ve met some of the coolest kids through Make-A-Wish, and it really is one of my favorite charities. When I found out about Course of the Force, I knew immediately [I wanted to be involved]. I was calling everyone I knew asking how can I be a part of this? I wanted to be a part of this so bad because it was raising money for Make-A-Wish. I truly hope people take away a love of Star Wars, a love of geek and nerd culture and also a love of Make-A-Wish, because this is truly an amazing event.

Register for Course of the Force now and make sure you are dressed in proper Star Wars attire by entering Nerdist News’ Her Universe giveaway (with bonus entries at the Nerdist News FacebookTwitter, and Google + pages), and you can also sign up for Nerdist News to get articles like this first thing every morning.


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