Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your story and what you have learned from your journey to date. First things first, though, what is something about you that your fans don’t know?
Ashley: My fans probably don’t know that I have a photographic memory with faces. If I’ve met someone once, I usually remember their face, even if it’s years later. Fans are often surprised when I recognize them when we meet again and they probably think I don’t really mean it, but I really do! I usually don’t remember where I met someone originally but for some reason, my brain remembers faces. However, I don’t have the same ability with names. Chances are, I’ll remember your face, but not your name.
Adam: What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your development and success?
Ashley: As an actress, I’m used to failure because it’s a profession where you fail more than you succeed. I grew accustomed to receiving criticism and learning from it rather than allowing it to shut me down. When I was first trying to get my company, Her Universe, a fashion brand for Fangirls, up off the ground, Lucasfilm told me “no” twice. However, I realized that they were telling me no to how I was trying to achieve my idea, but that they were not telling no to my idea. Oftentimes, we allow the word no to be a dead end. I look at the word no as hurdle that I just need to figure out how to climb over. Lucasfilm did me a huge favor by telling me no the first two times. I was trying to start my business the wrong way and it forced me to listen to their advice, go back to the drawing board and start my business the right way.
Adam: In your experience, what are the common qualities among those who have been able to enjoy success in your industry?
Ashley: When I think of successful people in my industry, I think of persistent, hard-working, hustlers. The licensing/retail industry is ever changing. The minute you become comfortable is the minute you are done. It’s a constant hustle for new opportunities and capturing new trends. I also find that the most successful people are the most humble people. My industry is a roller coaster and one minute you are up and the next you are down. You have to stay humble and hungry, otherwise you will be worn out by the constant ride.
Adam: Who have been the biggest influences in your life and why?
Ashley: Growing up, my parents were the biggest influence on my life. My Dad was a Walt Disney World cast member and we grew up in Orlando, FL. My Mom was an elementary school teacher and she often used the Disney Parks as our classroom. They used the influence and inspiration of Disney to teach me that the impossible is possible and that if I can dream it, I can do it. We were an average middle class family and my parents were examples of how hard work pays off. Nothing was ever handed to us, we had to earn it. I later met my husband, David Eckstein, in my early 20’s and he transformed me into the person I am today. He taught me that the key to transforming my dreams and making them happen is to put others first and to have a purpose and mission bigger than myself.
Adam: What are the best lessons you have learned through your career in entertainment that are applicable to those who will never earn a living in front of or behind the camera?
Ashley: I learned that life’s a marathon, not a sprint. I auditioned to be the voice of an animated character for 4 years before I was cast as the voice of Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars. I was rejected or recast for 4 years before I got my first big part. In Hollywood, they like to use the phrase “overnight success” but there are very few people who are actually an overnight success. I think the same can be said for any profession.
Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?
Ashley: My parents gave me an embroidered hat in 3rd grade that said “Don’t Dream It. Be It.” It’s my life motto.
Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?
Ashley: My hobbies have often changed during different periods of my life. My passion was always acting, but my hobby was fashion design. I always hoped that I would be able to do both but when I graduated from high school, I had to pick one. I’m so grateful to now do both! I also have a huge Alice in Wonderland collection. Alice inspires me to always stay curiouser and curiouser!