‘Black Barbie’: Netflix and Shondaland Acquire Acclaimed Documentary

Director Lagueria Davis’ film explores three Black women who had a major impact on the development of Mattel’s flagship dolls

Shonda Rhimes
Shonda Rhimes (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

In yet another high-profile acquisition from Netflix, the streaming giant and Shondaland have nabbed global rights to “Black Barbie: A Documentary.” The film comes courtesy of director Lagueria Davis with Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers as executive producers.   

The feature celebrates the momentous impact of three Black women at Mattel had on the evolution of the Barbie brand. The documentary tells the story of how the first Black Barbie came to be in 1980. It further examines the importance of representation and how dolls can be crucial to the formation of identity and imagination.  

As critic Glenn Dunks wrote in The Film Experience, the film “isn’t just about black Barbie dolls. It’s about representation, and about the biases at play in an industry that for so long never ever conceived of the idea of black children wanting a doll like Barbie.”

Critic Clint Worthington noted in The Spool that the picture was an “insightful look into the ways race factors into the economics of play, and how far we have to go to spotlight Black success beyond the commercial and capitalistic.”

Davis stated “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.”

Aaliyah Williams produced the film for Just a Rebel alongside Davis for Lovely Day Films. Alongside Shondaland, Grace Lay and Sumalee Montano are executive producing for LinLay Productions with Camilla Hall for Lady & Bird Films, Milan Chakraborty and Jyoti Sarda.  The film previously premiered to strong critical notices at this year’s SXSW festival. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.