Friend of Skytalkers Brittany Barnim was gracious enough to document her experience at Disney Springs in Orlando, Florida meeting Ashley Eckstein and Ashley Taylor at a signing for the Her Universe Leia and Padmé design, special for Mother’s Day. Below are her thoughts!
A signing that will be long remembered…
Opportunities come and go in life, but it is rare to have the chance to meet those who inspire you and to my utter disbelief; I’ve had that chance three times over in the past month. Last month at Star Wars Celebration, I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to meet one of my greatest heroes, Hayden Christensen, but I never imagined a mere few weeks later I would be able to meet two individuals who I’ve greatly admired for years, Ashley Eckstein of Her Universe, and Ashley Taylor, a prominent artist for Her Universe and Walt Disney Studios. Both of these ladies make the galaxy burn brighter with their fearless pursuit of their dreams and their support of those pursuing their own passions, and I can not express how grateful I was to be able to attend their Wonderground Gallery signing in Disney Springs where they debuted their Mother’s Day piece featuring Princess Leia Organa and her birth mother, Queen Padmé Amidala.
The print itself is a beautiful rendition of what could have been if things had been different for Padmé Amidala and Anakin Skywalker. It is made even more poignant when I take into account that it was my mother who ignited my undying love for the galaxy far, far away. Whereas Princess Leia has always been a favorite of my mom’s since she was first introduced to Star Wars, a love she passed on to me, I’ve always been drawn to Padmé. I was five years old when The Phantom Menace was released in theaters in 1999, a movie I dragged my mother to go see (at least that’s what she says), where I was introduced to the hero I never knew I needed in Padmé, a hero I still admire to this day.
Fast forward to Friday May 31st, 2013, the day I attended Star Wars Weekends for the first time and coincidentally, the day I bought my first few pieces of Her Universe merchandise, including their Padmé Nouveau #2 tee Ashley debuted that Spring. It was on that Friday that I became a die-hard fangirl for the Her Universe brand because she released a design that beautifully depicted a character I’ve loved dearly for nearly my entire life when representation of that particular character is far and few-between. As someone who was teased as a little girl for wearing a boy’s Star Wars sweatsuit because it was the only piece of clothing I could find with Queen Amidala featured, I can’t begin to explain how much it meant to me to own something I could wear with my all-time favorite characters in cinematic history, Padmé and Anakin, being the primary focus. It was a feeling I will never forget and it is something I am infinitely grateful for. This is why when I heard that Ashley Eckstein and Ashley Taylor were debuting a Mother’s Day design featuring Padmé, I made it a priority to attend the event and let these two ladies know how much it meant to me to include this character I hold so dearly to my heart.
Ashley Taylor has long done doodles of Padmé in different forms that I’ve greatly admired over the years, but nothing quite as moving as this piece given the tragic context of the films and the familial ties that bind quite a few of us Star Wars fans to the saga.
To end this piece, I would like to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to Ashley Eckstein and Ashley Taylor for continuing to represent the Star Wars saga in it’s entirety with such beauty and grace, and for being wonderful role-models for all of us out there who continue to dream big and to never quit pursuing those dreams. Hope will always burn brighter than fear!
P.S. Thank you SO much to Charlotte and Caitlin of Skytalker’s Podcast for giving me this opportunity to showcase my photography and to discuss how much being able to attend this small event meant to me!