Barbie officially debuted on March 9, 1959, at the American International Toy Fair in New York City as a creation of Mattel, Inc.’s Ruth Handler. The first Black Barbie doll made her debut in 1980.

Fast-forward to today, and Mattel’s Barbie collection has grown to include a plethora of diverse nationalities, capabilities, and beyond. Poised to tell the the Black Barbie evolution story, A-list storyteller Shonda Rhimes has produced an new documentary for Netflix, entitled, Black Barbie: A Documentary.


“#BlackBarbie, out June 19 on @netflix, celebrates the momentous impact three Black women at @Mattel had on the evolution of the Barbie brand as we know it, and how the first Black Barbie came to be,” Rhimes shared her excitement about the upcoming project on Instagram.

“This is such an amazing project, and as a doll lover I am so happy to be a part.”

Shondra Rhimes posing with her Shondra Rhimes Barbie Doll. SHOP.MATTEL.COM

The project, directed by Lagueria Davis, debuted at this SXSW 2024. After capturing the imagination of audiences, Rhimes, Betsy Beers, and Netflix teamed up with Davis to bring this amazing story to the masses.

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

According to the upcoming documenatry’s logline, Black Barbie: A Documentary, “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.”

Set your reminders because Black Barbie: A Documentary will start streaming on Netflix June 19.


Photo: Shonda Rhimes Instagram; Lagueria Davis Instagram

Tiffany Silva

Tiffany Silva

Writer and Editor

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