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    Shonda Rhimes to bring ‘Black Barbie’ documentary to Netflix
    • October 11, 2023

    Karu F. Daniels | New York Daily News (TNS)

    Netflix uber-producer Shonda Rhimes has snapped up the rights for “Black Barbie: A Documentary,” which chronicles Mattel’s 1980 introduction of the first Black doll, bringing some much-needed diversity to the iconic brand.

    The film, first shown at SXSW earlier this year, was written and directed by filmmaker Lagueria Davis, whose aunt Beulah Mae Mitchell worked at Mattel and was one of three Black women who advocated for the groundbreaking toy.

    According to the documentary’s logline, “Black Barbie” examines “the importance of representation and how dolls can be crucial to the formation of identity and imagination.”

    Cultural commentators, historians and consumers also weigh in on the impact of the doll. Mitchell and other Black women share their own stories of not seeing themselves represented, and how Black Barbie’s arrival affected them.

    “Telling Black Barbie’s story has been such a personal journey and it warms my heart to celebrate the legacy of my aunt Beulah Mae Mitchell, Kitty Black Perkins and Stacey McBride Irby in our film,” Davis said in a statement about the documentary’s acquisition. “We couldn’t have asked for better collaborators than Shondaland and Netflix to bring this story to the world.”

    During its 2022 International Women’s Day celebration, Mattel released a Barbie doll in Rhimes’ likeness — dressed in a replica of the outfit she wore for a Variety magazine cover story months before.

    Netflix’s “Black Barbie” announcement comes on the heels of Greta Gerwig’s history-making, billion-dollar-plus feature film starring Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as her anatomically correct male counterpart Ken. The all-star cast also features Issa Rae, Kate McKinnon, America Ferrera, Simu Liu and Academy Award winner Helen Mirren.


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