‘Black Barbie’ Trailer Highlights Importance of Representation 

Black Barbie Documentary (Credit: Netflix)

“From a young age, children can learn about inclusiveness,” a woman says in the trailer for Black Barbie.

Netflix released the trailer on Tuesday for the upcoming  documentary about the creation of the first non-white Barbie doll, and the role the dolls have played in shaping children’s identity.

“If you’ve gone your whole life and you’ve never seen anything made in your own image, there is damage done,” the film’s co-executive producer Shonda Rhimes says in the video.

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The documentary reveals how Mattel’s first Black Barbie doll came to be in 1980 — years after the original Barbie. And it tells the stories of Beulah Mae Mitchell, Kitty Black Perkins, and Stacey McBride Irby — three Black employees at the toymaker who advocated for making a Black Barbie doll.

The doll became a reality after a Black employee asked Mattel co-founder Ruth Handler, “Why don’t we make a Barbie that looks like me?” That question led to a wave of new toys.

The documentary comes from Shondaland, and is written and directed by Lagueria Davis.

Rhimes has a Barbie doll in her own likeness, which inspired her to bring the documentary to audiences, she recently told Variety.

“I think there’s something really powerful about it. I played with those dolls when I was a kid,” Rhimes said. “We also had just a very interesting opportunity to add to that documentary, and to provide a lot more content and context. We have added interviews; we’ve been inside Mattel.”

In addition to Rhimes, Betsy Beers is an executive producer. 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.

Black Barbie: A Documentary premieres June 19 on Netflix.

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