In a groundbreaking move, Netflix and Shondaland have secured the global rights to the compelling documentary, “Black Barbie”.

Credit: Stupid DOPE

Directed by Lagueria Davis, this documentary delves deep into the intriguing history of the first black Barbie doll, which made its debut in 1980, an impressive 31 years after the original Barbie. But that’s not all; in addition, it delves into the inspiring narratives of three Black women at Mattel who passionately advocated for the development of this beloved toy.

Acclaimed Debut

“Black Barbie” initially wowed audiences at this year’s SXSW festival, earning widespread acclaim for its fresh perspective and insightful narrative. Now, it’s Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers, two luminaries of the entertainment industry, who have joined the project as executive producers, as part of Shondaland’s sweeping deal with Netflix.

Personal and Powerful

Director Lagueria Davis brings a personal connection to this documentary, making it all the more powerful. She warmly celebrates the legacies of her family members, Beulah Mae Mitchell, Kitty Black Perkins, and Stacey McBride Irby, who played pivotal roles in the Black Barbie’s journey and cultural significance. The film’s logline hints at its importance, stating that it explores “the significance of representation and how dolls can play a critical role in shaping identity and sparking imagination.” This narrative unfolds through the perspectives of Mattel insiders, consumers, cultural analysts, and historians.

In the Context of a Barbie Boom

“Black Barbie” emerges in the midst of a Barbie resurgence. Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie’s live-action Barbie movie has taken the world by storm, amassing a staggering $1.4 billion and counting. This blockbuster featured a diverse cast, underlining the notion that Barbie doesn’t resonate with everyone. As Davis herself admits early in the documentary, “I hate dolls.”

A Nuanced Exploration

Credit: Variety

Davis’s documentary balances amusement with introspection, employing clever reenactments that highlight the struggles of Black Barbie in predominantly white spaces. While there’s humor, there’s also pain, as the film explores Barbie’s relationship with diversity, inclusion, and their parallels in society.

Behind the Scenes

Lagueria Davis not only directed but also produced the film alongside Aaliyah Williams. The executive producer roster includes Grace Lay, Sumalee Montano, Camilla Hall, Milan Chakraborty, Jyoti Sarda, Shonda Rhimes, and Betsy Beers.

A New Cultural Touchstone

“Black Barbie: A Documentary” presents a unique perspective on the iconic doll and the people behind her creation. It’s a timely and powerful exploration of representation, identity, and imagination.

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