Shonda Rhimes to Executive Produce ‘Black Barbie’ Documentary for Netflix


October 11, 2023

Barbie is back! And this time, the history of the first Black Barbie doll is being told.

Shondaland and Netflix have acquired worldwide rights to “Black Barbie,” a documentary about three Black women at Mattel who played a huge role in the first Black Barbie doll being made, Variety reports.

The first Black Barbie doll was released in 1980, 31 years after the original Barbie was made.

The doc is directed by Lagueria Davis and debuted a work-in-progress cut at this year’s SXSW festival. The film was met with widespread acclaim. So it was able to get some big names to sign on to produce it.

Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers will serve as executive producers as part of Shondaland’s overall deal with Netflix.

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

According to the logline, 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.”


The Hollywood Reporter, as well as other outlets, gave the film positive reviews.

“Topics of conversation include the Barbie vlogs on racism during the height of the 2020 protests and feeble attempts to give ‘Black Barbie’ her own stories,” THR‘s review read. “Interesting as these subjects are, there’s a breathless quality to their unfolding here — an understandable effort to say as much as possible within a limited running time.”

The “Black Barbie” documentary comes after Greta Gerwig’s massively successful live-action Barbie movie, which has made $1.4 billion and counting at the box office.


Photo by DFree / Shutterstock

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