It’s Your Universe Book Review

It’s Your Universe Book Review

I had the pleasure of sitting down and speaking with Ashley Eckstein this year at WonderCon 2018. We spoke a lot about nerd culture, how girls fit into it, and why there was such a lack of merchandise for girls in the nerd world. It was a very interesting discussion, so when Ashley told me that she was releasing a book, It’s Your Universe Book,  that talks more in depth about this, I had to read it. Ashley and Disney were kind enough to send us a copy, and it took me on an inspirational journey that I, a woman in the nerd world, found somewhat familiar.

Eckstein writes a lot about how Disney inspired her, and, in her own words: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” These words carried her throughout her childhood. She dreamed of being on the Disney Channel when she was a child, and later on, became a Disney Parks cast member in high school. All of this led to her big opportunity and role as Ashoka Tano in the critically acclaimed Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels TV shows. Along the way, she even went to form the clothing company, Her Universe, that gives girls more access to clothing and merchandise in nerd culture.

It’s Your Universe is laid out like your typical autobiography, but also has components of a self-help book. Adorable and charming illustrations decorate the pages, along with inspirational quotes from your favorite Disney characters. Eckstein leaves room in the book to allow you to fill out your own thoughts about dreams, ambitions, and controlling your own destiny. Unlike other self-help books that I have seen that can be a bit condescending at times, hers is just too sweet to not want to share the experience with her. You’ll want to write down your own thoughts and feelings. Eckstein takes such a personal and kind tone in her writing. It makes her seem like she is talking just to you, like you are sitting down and having a one on one conversation with her.

The cover of It's Your Universe

It’s Your Universe

In Eckstein’s It’s Your Universe, she isn’t afraid to share personal stories about her success and her failures. She talks greatly about several auditions she did that didn’t pan out, episodes of shows that were cut, and her first big break on the Disney Channel show That’s So Raven where her character was in a nine episode arc. One of the most entertaining things to read about is her getting the role of Ashoka Tano: the waiting, the self-doubt, the excitement, and, the elation when she gets the call saying she got the part. This was such a big deal for her and for female Star Wars fans. Before Ashoka, girls really only had two characters in the mainstream mythos to ever play or look up to: Princess Leia and Padme. While these characters are awesome, Ashoka is a character that is still growing and learning, something a lot of young people can relate too. Eckstein personally voiced how important this was to her in our one on one interview and it is just as sincere in her writing.

In It’s Your Universe, Eckstein also shares advice and personal dealings on how to make it in the industry. She speaks about being persistent, about negotiating with Lucasfilm to get licensing for her clothing brand, Her Universe. She goes on about finding good lawyers, agents, and surrounding yourself with positive influences to make your dreams come true. But, as she says best, “You have to be the driving force of your own destiny.”

It’s Your Universe is a must read for anyone looking for an inspirational read, looking for a push towards your dreams, or just learning more about what an interesting and inspiring person Ashley Eckstein is. It’s a great book to own when you just need to read something to give you a good kick in the pants, want a colorful coffee table book full of adorable illustrations, and is the perfect pick up for any Disney or Star Wars lover. It’s Your Universe is currently available in all stores and online retailers. 

Niki Birkedahl

Niki Birkedahl

Nicole Birkedahl has been cosplaying since 2004 under the guise of Smoldering Flame Cosplay. She does screen accurate pieces thanks to the help of her best friend, and seamstress, Tia Dworshak. Along with cosplay, Nicole loves playing video games, collecting figures, and doing editorial work for all things in nerd culture!


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