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Airdate: Black Barbie

New doco celebrates the momentous impact three Black women at Mattel had on the evolution of the Barbie brand.

New US documentary Black Barbie celebrates the momentous impact three Black women at Mattel had on the evolution of the Barbie brand as we know it.

Inspired by the story of her great aunt Beulah Mae Mitchell, a star Mattel employee brave enough to ask Ruth Handler, “Why don’t we make a Barbie that looks like me?”, Lagueria Davis explores the impact of that question, and the long road to introducing the first non-white official “Barbie” in 1980.

That journey launches viewers into a discovery of the history of Black dolls, their impact on civil rights and Black entrepreneurship, and the significant role of imaginative play in shaping children’s identity.

The film juxtaposes the legacy of three Black women who blazed new trails at Mattel with the stories of a select group of Black women memorialized by Barbie dolls made in their image, all while highlighting celebrity and fan reflections on the impact of this iconic doll.

This is a celebration of Black culture over the past 70 years, and of the specific influence of the Black Barbie doll on the diverse array of dolls we’ve come to love today.

Wednesday 19 June on Netflix.

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