Netflix and Shondaland hae officially acquired the global rights to Black Barbie: A Documentary. The documentary follows the story of Mattel‘s introduction of the first Black Barbie doll and the significance it played in history. The doll — which debuted in 1980, 31 years after the original Barbie — will be at the center of the doc, along with the three Black women at Mattel who advocated for the toy.
Lagueria Davis, whose aunt worked at Mattel at the time and championed the groundbreaking doll, wrote and directed the doc which debuted at SXSW. The film is produced by Aaliyah Williams and now includes Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers as executive producers. The film was first shown during this year’s SXSW and the “work-in-progress” film was met with widespread critical acclaim. In a statement regarding the acquisition, Davis said, “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. We couldn’t have asked for better collaborators than Shondaland and Netflix to bring this story to the world.”
Through the stories of Mattel insiders, Davis’s personal tie to the doll as well as cultural commentators, historians and consumers, the film examines “the importance of representation and how dolls can be crucial to the formation of identity and imagination.” The documentary comes hot on the heels of Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie‘s incredibly successful Barbie film. In her Variety review, film critic Lisa Kennedy complemented Davis’s complex narrative for Black Barbie, “With its deeply amusing re-creations of actual Barbie dolls sauntering into white spaces or sitting at the end of a conference room table (the only BIDOC — Black, indigenous doll of color, so to speak), the movie can be wryly playful. … But there is pain, here, too.”
The official logline for the film reads, “Black Barbie celebrates the momentous impact three Black women at Mattel had on the evolution of the Barbie brand as we know it. Through these charismatic insiders’ stories, the documentary tells the story of how the first Black Barbie came to be in 1980, examining the importance of representation and how dolls can be crucial to the formation of identity and imagination.” It remains to be seen when the documentary will be available on Netflix. Stay tuned.
In other entertainment news, Pokémon recently released the first trailer for the new live-action drama series PokéTsume.