Tag Archives: Ashley Eckstein

Welcome to the Land of Lando

Most people in Central Florida have caught wind that something dealing with Star Wars is coming to town this month, not truly realizing this Star Wars Celebration V, officially sponsored by Lucasfilm, may well be one of the biggest events of the year for Orlando. (For some people, it is the biggest event of the foreseeable future, especially if they already have their Stormtrooper costumes ready to go!)

There will be lots of incredible things to do, including seeing celebrities like George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, and Ashley Eckstein.  And, it’s all happening this weekend…Yep, Orlando is being invaded by the Force… can you already feel it?

© Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

But, some Star Wars fans are hoping visitors will not be visiting Orlando, but rather Lando, in honor of Billy Dee Williams’ Star Wars character. 

In fact, a petition at http://www.welcometolando.com/ was started by Scott Moon, a fan since he first saw the movie at a drive-in with his father long, long ago, in a galaxy not so far away.  

At this pont, over 600 people–including the Top 5— have signed the petition, requesting a name change for the duration of the convention. (Heck, if a city in Kansas can change their name to Google to try and get that company’s attention, then we can certainly handle an abbreviated change for a few days in support of one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time!)

Billy Dee Williams as Lando.

As Scott pointed out, and we whole-heartedly agree, the coolest things about this Star Wars convention is that it just goes to show Lando (or Orlando for you party poopers) is the place that dreams and fantasies come true on a daily basis… is there really any other city like ours? So, whether you consider yourself a true Star Wars fan or not, and regardless of whether you even know who Hans Solo or Jaba the Hut are, perhaps add your name to the petition…why? Because where else can you have some good-natured fun in today’s world besides in Lando?

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‘Her Universe’ Is Pretty Darn Cool! Interview with Ashley Eckstein

So, the Top 5 took time out from our vacation in the Florida Keys to speak with Hollywood actress Ashley Eckstein. (Well, actually, I was ankle-deep in green-blue water on the shores of Bahia Honda State Park while we were talking. I wonder if she’s ever been interviewed by somebody at the beach before… well, she is the famous Ashley Eckstein, so maybe she has!)

Ashley is coming back to Orlando this month for the upcoming Star Wars Celebration V.  This is the mother of all fan conventions and is officially supported by LucasFilm.  In fact, George Lucas himself will be in attendance, and maybe you will be lucky enough to catch his interview on center stage with the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart.  (Hmmmph!  I bet Jon’s never interviewed somebody while leisurely tanning at Bahia Honda’s beach!)

At any rate, Ashley is the voice of Ashoka Tano, one of the stars of LucasFilm’s animated spin-off, The Clone Wars.

Ashley posing next to her character, Ahsako Tano. Photo by Sue Schneider_Moonglow Photos

Ashley also has her own clothes line, Her Universe, inspired by the Star Wars films.  She started the line after finding there were very few sci-fi clothiers catering to the female fan.  As it turns out, nearly 50% of Star Wars fans are females, so a clothing line was born. (FYI: The shirts are totally awesome, and I have ordered one for my trip to the Star Wars Celebration, since I don’t have a Stormtrooper outfit handy!)

Ashley modeling merchandise from Her Universe website.

Both Ashley and her husband, David Eckstein of the San Diego Padres, are Central Florida natives.  Ashley grew up performing local theater and graduating from Dr. Philips, while David has roots in Sanford.  So, when the Top 5 caught up with them, we decided to ask just what it was they love about the Central Florida area.

Ashley Eckstein’s Top 5 Things to do in Central Florida:

1.  Go to Disney World!

Ashley’s father worked for Disney and it was also her first job in high school, as soon as she turned 16. She shared with me, “I was a cheerleader in the Hercules parade!”

Disney also played a part in her life when she got older: David asked her to marry him at the Grand Floridian and they had their wedding reception at the Yacht and Beach Club.

2.  Eat at Cafe Positano’s.

The couple eat at Cafe Positano’s “probably two to three times a week” during David’s off-season. She laughed, “I am obsessed with their pizza!”

3. Check out Orlando Theater’s Scene

Ashley got her start performing in shows at the Orlando Rep, so she enjoys going back to see the shows now being performed. She also loves when she can visit the SAK Comedy Theater, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, as well as trying to catch parts of the Orlando Fringe Festival if she’s in town.

4. Shop

She mentioned the Millenia Mall, but also gushed about Rocks Fine Jewelry on Park Avenue in Winter Park, where David got her engagement ring. She recalls how David Hernandez was just fantastic and how great their custom jewelry is.

5. Satisfy her Sweet Tooth

Although she’s a gorgeous actress, she is human after all, and places like Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt call her name.  There she can pile the toppings as high as she wants, even qualifying her for the store’s “Professional Mixer” category.  She also fondly recalls Goofy’s Candy Company in Downtown Disney.

To see Ashley Eckstein and other Star Wars celebrities in person, attend the Star Wars Celebration V at the Orange County Convention Center, August 12- 15. Tickets are still available for this once-in-a-lifetime event!

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