Documentary on First Black Barbie Doll Coming to Netflix From Shondaland Team

The first Black Barbie doll was sold in 1980. (Credit: Amazon.com)

It’s been 43 years since the first Black Barbie doll hit store shelves and a new documentary on the iconic toy will tell her story.

Netflix and Shondaland announced this week they’ve acquired the global rights to Black Barbie: A Documentary, on Mattel’s original Black Barbie doll and the toy’s significance for children.

The film will spotlight the doll — which debuted in 1980 — years after the original Barbie. The doc will also tell the stories of Beulah Mae Mitchell, Kitty Black Perkins, and Stacey McBride Irby — three Black women at Mattel who advocated for the toy.

A work-in-progress cut of the film played earlier this year to critical acclaim at the SXSW 2023 festival.

The movie is directed by Lagueria Davis, who has a personal connection to the story.

“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. “We couldn’t have asked for better collaborators than Shondaland and Netflix to bring this story to the world.”

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In addition to exploring how the toy came to be in 1980, the film will examine the importance of representation and how dolls can be crucial to the formation of identity and imagination.

The documentary is executive produced by Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers as part of their overall deal with Netflix. Additional executive producers include Grace Lay and Sumalee Montano for LinLay Productions, Camilla Hall for Lady & Bird Films, along with Milan Chakraborty, and Jyoti Sarda.

Producers are Aaliyah Williams for Just A Rebel, Lagueria Davis for Lovely Day Films.

A release date will be announced later.

News that the movie has found a home comes amid a Barbie boom, following the July release of the feature film Barbie.

Starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, the Warner Bros. film offered a fresh take on the iconic Mattel toy. Since it debuted, the film has earned $1.4 billion at the worldwide box office.