Day 393 – Kelly McGuire

Kelly McGuire is the admin and chief content creator for the website Team Ahsoka. She answered a few questions via email about her work celebrating Ahsoka Tano for 365 Star Wars.

What was your introduction to Star Wars?

Like many other fans my age, I was far too young to have seen the Original Trilogy at the cinema so I took my first steps into this larger world in the late 1980s/early 1990s thanks to TV re-runs and VHS tapes (remember those?). From the moment I saw Darth Vader make his dramatic entrance in A New Hope, I was hooked, mesmerized, spell-bound.
 
But I didn’t become a die-hard fan of the franchise until the prequels were released, specifically Attack of the Clones. By that point, I had moved to the United Kingdom to attend university and had regular access to the internet, so I was finally able to indulge my fandom and participate in fan discourse in a way I hadn’t been able to back home in Gibraltar. Seriously, I didn’t even know that the Expanded Universe existed until I was in my twenties!
 
Star Wars has now been a part of my life for the better part of three decades and, quite honestly, I simply can’t imagine my life without it. It is in my very soul, tormenting me…

Why did you start the Team Ahsoka website and for people who aren’t familiar with it can you describe what kinds of content Star Wars fans can find there?

Well, for those of you who aren’t already familiar with Team Ahsoka, it’s a fan-run website devoted to the Star Wars character Ahsoka Tano and her fanbase. It’s essentially a repository for Ahsoka-related news, merchandise reviews, think pieces, panel analyses and transcriptions, and fan creations. And if reading blog articles isn’t your thing, you can find plenty of fan art, cosplay photos, and discussions about our beloved Togruta heroine over on the Team Ahsoka Facebook page or on Twitter.
 
I launched the site and its social media accounts back in April 2016. At the time, I was between jobs and needed a new project that could distract me from the stresses of job-hunting and serve as an outlet for my creativity and passion for that fictional faraway galaxy. Thus, Team Ahsoka was born. I would spend several hours a day networking, writing articles, and curating content for the site and its social media accounts as a way of honing my writing and other marketable skills. But the real joy lay in engaging with fellow fans on Twitter, some of whom have become dear friends.
 
Sadly, I don’t have as much time to work on new material for the site as I did three years ago, but as long as Ahsoka Tano remains a relevant and beloved fan favourite, there will be a “Team Ahsoka”.

Do you have any favorite pieces from Team Ahsoka over the years?

Most of the articles I write for Team Ahsoka are news stories or consist of curated content but I do write original pieces for the site on occasion. One of my personal favourites is an interview I did with cosplayer Kendra Davis back in April 2018. I reached out to her after I saw photos of her Human Ahsoka cosplay on Twitter and I chatted with her about the importance of representation and learned how cosplaying as Ahsoka had been a positive experience for her. If you aren’t familiar with Kendra’s work, I recommend following her on Twitter. Her Human Ahsoka cosplays are among the most creative and unique portrayals of the character you’ll ever see, and she’s a real sweetheart to boot.
 
The other feature I’m particularly proud of is my seven-part series on the “Ahsoka’s Untold Tales” panel held at Celebration London back in 2016. It’s kind of crazy to think that I devoted seven complete articles to an hour-long panel and spent several months working on them, but it proved to be an educational experience. Who knew transcribing and analyzing convention panels could be so exhausting and yet so rewarding?

How about a few favorite Ahsoka moments (from TV, books, comics, etc.)?

Wow, where to begin? I could cite the time when she beheaded four Death Watch members in one fell swoop without so much as batting an eyelid or the time she took on two Inquisitors in an episode of Star Wars Rebels. Or maybe even the time she helped lead a rebellion on the Separatist-occupied planet of Onderon.
 
But, honestly, what I love most about Ahsoka is her sassy, no-nonsense attitude and her friendship with Anakin Skywalker, my other favourite Star Wars character. Watching them grow together as teacher and student, learning from each other, and supporting each other was an absolute pleasure. There are few better examples of a male-female friendship in Star Wars and I cannot wait to see those two back together again in the near future, even if I already know how their friendship ends…

Where do you see your website in the next year or so? It certainly seems like we are far from the end of getting new Ahsoka content.

With a new season of The Clone Wars on its way and numerous other Star Wars projects on the horizon, it’s safe to say that there has never been a better time to be a Star Wars fan. There truly is something for everyone. New comics, novels, and TV series are being announced on a regular basis, so there’s a good chance that we’ll be getting even more Ahsoka content in the foreseeable future. And if that’s the case, well, Team Ahsoka is going to be pretty busy!
 
Thanks to my career as a freelancer, it’s impossible to say what the site will look like a year from now but expect some in-depth analyses and discussions of those new Clone Wars episodes once they hit Disney Plus… and, of course, a plethora of fabulous new fan art.

What did you think of the E.K. Johnston book Ahsoka? If you had to choose would you rather have another Ahsoka book or comics series? What time period would you want it to be set in?

I’m going to be brutally honest: I found Johnston’s novel lacking and somewhat disappointing, though I admit that I went into it with certain expectations (you can read my full review over here). While I would have wanted to learn more about Ahsoka’s early missions as a Rebel intelligence operative, I acknowledge that that was not the story Johnston was trying to tell. Her decision to tackle post-traumatic stress disorder, grief, and loss instead was admirable, and it’s also worth mentioning that she introduced a new gay young woman of colour into Star Wars canon.
 
Given the choice, I’d rather have a new comic series than another novel simply because I feel that Star Wars works best in a visual format, especially where lightsaber duels and space battles are concerned. Ahsoka’s early days at the Jedi Temple could be a fun era to explore but, honestly, I’d take anything I can get. It’s high time Snips got her own comic series.

What did you think about the decision to bring Ahsoka back for Star Wars Rebels and continuing her story post-Return of the Jedi?

It’s a decision that I still have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, part of me – the cynical part of me – felt that bringing Ahsoka into Rebels was a ploy to win over the fans who were still nursing broken hearts after The Clone Wars’ premature cancellation (myself included). Intentional or not, the ploy worked on me because I tuned into the show almost two seasons into its run and fell in love with the Ghost crew in a heartbeat. Ahsoka’s return may have convinced me to give the series a chance but it was Rebels’ powerful themes and space family that kept me coming back for more.
 
On the other hand, I was thrilled to learn that Ahsoka had survived Order 66 and had played a key role in the formation of the Rebel Alliance. And her epic duel against her former master in the season two finale, “Twilight of the Apprentice”, was one of the most emotionally-charged and impactful moments in Star Wars history. That alone justifies Lucasfilm’s decision to bring Ahsoka into the series.
 
And while I have certain misgivings about Ahsoka surviving her encounter with Darth Vader and felt that she sometimes overshadowed the actual stars of the series, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t curious to see how her story continues post-ROTJ. Will she and Sabine find Ezra and bring him home? And will Ahsoka ever get the chance to meet Luke Skywalker and tell him about the good person Anakin Skywalker once was? Only time will tell.

Are there certain things you are really hoping to see (Ahsoka-wise or not) from the new season of The Clone Wars?

The Siege of Mandalore and Ahsoka adjusting to life outside the Jedi Temple were two of the things I had really hoped to see in the new season of The Clone Wars and, judging from the trailer and information we got at Celebration Chicago, my prayers have been answered!
 
There is one more thing I’d really love to see in the new episodes and that’s an expanded Order 66 montage that shows the young Caleb Dume (aka Kanan Jarrus) escaping the Jedi Purge. Call it “fan service” if you must, but wouldn’t that be a fantastic nod to Star Wars Rebels?

What are your thoughts about the new animated show Star Wars Resistance? Would you welcome Ahsoka popping up in that show (a rather old version of her that is) or in the live-action show The Mandalorian set a bit earlier in the timeline?

I hate to admit it but Star Wars Resistance has utterly failed to grab me. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t find the sequel trilogy era particularly exciting or whether it’s the show’s tone or animation style but I just couldn’t get into it, despite my best efforts. It’s great to see that the series has captured so many other fans’ hearts and that it has introduced a whole bunch of intriguing new characters, but it just isn’t for me. As for Ahsoka making an appearance on Resistance, I honestly can’t see a good reason for bringing her into the series at this particular point in time. Doing so would seem – pardon the pun – a little forced and I personally wouldn’t want to see her pop up in a sequel-era story until we find out if she kept her promise to Ezra Bridger (Star Wars Rebels fans will know exactly what I mean).
 
Lucasfilm could potentially bring Ahsoka into The Mandalorian but the series I’d really love to see her show up in is the as-yet-untitled Cassian Andor series. After all, Cassian was a Fulcrum agent and may have been recruited into the rebellion’s spy network by the original Fulcrum herself. If there was ever a time to bring Ahsoka into a live-action Star Wars series, this would be it. As long as the showrunners can make a live-action Ahsoka work and her presence made sense from a timeline perspective, there’s no good reason NOT to use her, even if it’s just for a cameo appearance.

Do you think we’ll eventually get a new animated show that features Ahsoka and Sabine teaming up to find Ezra? Is that something you’d like to see?

Knowing Dave Filoni and how attached he is to those particular characters, I reckon it’s a matter of “when” rather than “if”. The Star Wars Rebels finale certainly left the door wide open for a follow-up series and fans are begging for it, so I’m half-expecting an announcement about a new Ahsoka/Sabine series once the new season of The Clone Wars has aired. Fingers crossed!

You live in the Netherlands. Do you feel Lucasfilm does a good job of including worldwide fans? It seems like it’s difficult to find a lot of Star Wars merchandise for a lot of EU fans and some fan events have excluded non-US fans.

Being a Europe-based fan certainly has its challenges. Most Star Wars-related conventions and press events are held in the US, which makes it impossible for me to report on breaking news first hand or attend most fan events (I wish I had an endless supply of credits at my disposal). Depending on where you live, action figures and other merchandise can be hard to find locally and while online shopping and sites like Ebay can be a godsend for collectors, the shipping fees and marked-up prices can be a huge strain on fans’ budgets.
 
And I know there may be legal issues at play but excluding the majority of non-US fans from the 2018 Star Wars Fan Awards made a lot of people feel like second-rate fans. Star Wars is a globally-loved franchise but there are times when it feels like the international fanbase is merely an afterthought. Going forward, Lucasfilm should consider making these contests as inclusive as possible, even if it means holding several regional contests instead of just the one.

If you could sit down with three people at Lucasfilm to talk about the future of Star Wars who would you want to chat with and what would you want to tell them?

As a massive fan of The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, I would never pass up an opportunity to meet Dave Filoni, the Godfather of Lucasfilm Animation. There are hundreds of questions I’d like to ask him and I’d happily grovel at his feet if he’d let me take a peek inside one of his many sketchbooks. I suspect he wouldn’t be able to reveal much about what he and the animation department are currently cooking up for us and he has a certain talent for dodging questions… but it’s worth a shot, right?
 
I’d also like to sit down with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy to thank her for her tremendous work over the years but also remind her of the importance of representation both in front of and behind the camera. The Star Wars universe may be becoming more diverse with each new film and project but there’s always room for improvement.
 
And, finally, I’d love the chance to hang out with Lucasfilm Archivist Madlyn Burkert for an afternoon. I first learned about Madlyn and her work at Lucasfilm during an episode of The Star Wars Show and her passion for her job just shone through. Perhaps she can’t tell me much about the future of the franchise but I’d certainly like to pick her brain and ask her about the various tools and techniques used to preserve Star Wars props.

Can you talk about any projects you have coming up?

Thanks to my unpredictable work schedule, I find it tough to commit to any new projects at the moment, and I wouldn’t want to disappoint my readers and social media followers by teasing or announcing something that might not even see the light of day.
 
That said, one of the things on my wishlist is to run a series of interviews with cosplayers, fan artists, and other fan community members to learn more about what Ahsoka means to them and how she and her voice actress Ashley Eckstein have inspired them. There’s a world of talented Star Wars fans out there and I’d love to showcase some of their achievements on the Team Ahsoka site. So, if you’re interested in being interviewed or know someone who should be, get in touch!

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The Team Ahsoka logo and related banners were created by Fabio Fiori of The Tatooine Times. Please credit him in the article and add a link to at least his Twitter account (https://twitter.com/FabEliFlow)

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