Film & TV

Netflix and Shondaland Secure Rights for ‘Black Barbie’ Documentary

Variety reports that Netflix and Shondaland have secured the global rights to the documentary “Black Barbie,” which will explore the history of the first Black Barbie doll. Introduced three decades after the original Barbie in 1980, the film shows how three Black women at Mattel advocated for more diverse barbies.

Directed by Lagueria Davis, “Black Barbie” premiered at this year’s SXSW, receiving widespread acclaim for its insightful storytelling. Davis’s personal connection to the subject matter takes center stage in the documentary, guiding the narrative through the journey and cultural significance of the Black Barbie.

Davis’s aunt, Beulah Mae Mitchell, who worked at Mattel for 45 years, brings the documentary to life with her insights and experiences on not seeing herself represented in Barbie, and how that sparked change. “Black Barbie” delves deep into the intersection of merchandise and representation, capturing the struggles of Black women as they strive to amplify their voices and stories, refusing to be rendered invisible.

The film delves into the “importance of representation and how dolls can play a pivotal role in shaping identity and imagination,” intertwining perspectives from Mattel insiders, consumers, cultural commentators, and historians.

“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,” said Davis in a statement announcing the news. “We couldn’t have asked for better collaborators than Shondaland and Netflix to bring this story to the world.”

According to the synopsis, the film “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.”

Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers have joined as executive producers, part of Shondaland’s extensive collaboration with Netflix. This marks a significant step forward in sharing this compelling story with a global audience.

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