Black Barbie (2023) Movie Script

[woman 1] When I think of Barbie,
I see a little white doll
with blue eyes
and blonde hair and pink lips,
and just in... in all pink.
That's what I think.
[woman 2] I just found Barbie
to be unrealistic.
[chuckling] Like, I remember thinking,
"Okay, so a Barbie
is what I am supposed to grow into being."
Maybe when I was a grown-up,
I would look like that,
but I knew my mom was a grown-up
and didn't look like that,
so I was like, "Trash."
Barbie was white. You know, Ken was white.
Like, that was what you saw.
So I guess when I saw a Black Barbie,
I was like, "They make Black Barbies?"
[woman 3] Well, in my head,
Black Barbie came to be
because somebody Black was at Mattel,
and they were like, "Wait a minute."
Rose their hand in a meeting. "Excuse me?
Does anybody see the holes here?"
"This is... This is not right.
There's nobody that looks like me."
And all the white people
at Mattel were like,
"Oh, we never thought about that.
I guess... I guess that is true."
[inhales sharply] "But who's gonna
buy that? Mmm, I don't know."
And the Black person was like, "Mmm,
uh, I would, and everybody I know will."
The people at Mattel were like,
"Hmm, but we need a little bit more
than that. I don't know."
"We don't wanna put all this money out
for something that isn't gonna sell."
And it took said Black person
to keep telling them
of the value that it had.
And they finally pull the trigger.
And in my head, that's how it came to be.
[woman 4] You know what?
[woman 4] Documentary done.
["Barbie Girl" by Aqua plays]
[woman 5] OG Black Barbie is so fly.
That 'fro is perfection.
[woman 6] I said,
"Wow, there's a Black Barbie."
"I want one of those."
[woman 7] If it doesn't have
that brand name Barbie on it,
it's just not the same.
[woman 3] Crowning this doll as Barbie
was telling the world
Black is beautiful too.
[woman 8] She represented success.
She represented beauty.
I can see possibility in her for myself.
[woman 9] She's Black.
She's beautiful. She's dynamite.
I'm a Barbie girl in the Barbie world
Life in plastic, it's fantastic
You can brush my hair
Undress me everywhere
Imagination, life is your creation
[music stops]
[Lagueria] So in 2011, I move to LA
to expand upon my dreams
of becoming a filmmaker.
I stayed with my aunt
and slept in a room surrounded by dolls.
...we're gonna have on eBay.
[Lagueria] I hate dolls.
Okay. Yeah.
[Lagueria] But my aunt loves them,
so I decided to find out why.
My name is Beulah Mae Mitchell
from Fort Worth, Texas.
I was born in 1938. May 15th, 1938.
[Lagueria] And the Civil Rights Movement
came about in the '60s.
So you see how long I lived in that.
Things, uh, were so different.
As a little girl, I... I went to work
in a white person's home,
cooking, at the age of 13.
I went, uh, from my first grade
to ninth grade in a Black school.
At that time, you couldn't vote.
They... they had, uh...
It was something like
"pay to vote." [chuckles]
When... when I came up,
you had to pay to vote.
[Lagueria] And so, do you think,
because you grew up, like, in those times,
for some reason,
when you see dolls that are Black dolls...
Oh, I was so fascinated
to see Black dolls.
My mother loved dolls, and I love dolls
because I just love fashion
and pretty dolls, pretty people.
They were just gorgeous.
I made my own doll with a... a jam jar
and put the rope in it
and comb hair and curl it and things
when I was a child.
And it was fun for us
to have that kind of doll.
We used... Even though we had a real doll,
we still liked our jar dolls
with the hair that we could comb
and... and... and fix.
[both laugh]
I can't remember having a Black...
Black doll when I was a little girl.
[Lagueria] Not even a Black baby doll?
Not even a Black baby doll.
I'm almost sure all my dolls...
For Christmas, we got white dolls.
When you were seven or eight,
did you really, really want a Black doll?
Did it ever...
I didn't... It didn't occur to me.
It was just a doll.
So when people see me now,
and I have more Black dolls
than I have white dolls,
now it's no big thing to people
because they expect it. [chuckles]
[upbeat music plays]
[Lagueria] Listening to my aunt talk about
growing up playing with white dolls,
I was like,
"Okay, I played with white dolls too."
Reluctantly, of course.
But playing with a Black doll
never occurred to her.
Hmm. I wonder if it occurred to me
as little Lagueria.
What a perplexing thing,
to look in the social mirror
and not see yourself.
It's funny.
My aunt and I are generations apart,
yet we share a similar experience.
My name is Maxine Waters.
I'm a member of Congress,
and I've collected Black dolls.
I have 12 siblings.
We were poor, and so, uh,
we were given toys at Christmastime.
And we had to go
to some place that was designated
for poor people to come
and get their toys.
And so, for my sisters, I would always
make sure that they got a doll,
and I would say, "Oh, I don't need one."
[Lagueria] Were they Black dolls?
There were no Black dolls.
They were all white dolls.
We didn't know a lot
or think a lot, uh, about it at that time.
But as you get
a better knowledge and understanding
about yourself and about people of color,
I began to understand
how important it was to have a Black doll
and to have someone who looked like me.
Collecting Black dolls, I think,
became very important to us.
To say, uh, that we liked them,
we appreciated them,
we could afford them,
and we were gonna have them.
My mom definitely loves dolls.
She has her own doll collection
of all kinds of dolls.
I always think it's because there were
no Black dolls when my mother was a child.
So she's been fascinated with them.
If you've gone your whole life and never
seen anything made in your own image,
it's gotta be a powerful moment for you
as a woman.
In the Americas, there were many places
that had banned Black dolls.
And so people were making dolls
that look like pillows or quilts.
Or that were made with calico fabric
to represent Black dolls.
In the Caribbean, people had something
called Topsy-Turvy dolls,
where on one side, you had a doll
with a long skirt that was a white doll,
and then you could flip it over
and pull the skirt down,
and you had a Black doll.
[Beulah] I do remember seeing Black dolls,
but they were like Aunt Jemima dolls.
[Lagueria] Mm-hmm.
- [Beulah] You know what I'm saying?
- [Lagueria] I do.
They didn't have
no pretty dolls. [chuckles]
We know, at least, that they existed
if for no other reason
than Kenneth and Mamie Clark
did an experiment,
uh, with, uh, Black children,
asking their doll preference,
and had Black dolls to use
in that experiment.
[endearing music playing]
[man] We put them on a table.
Two white and two brown dolls,
exactly the same
in every respect except color.
We put no clothes on them except a diaper.
And we asked the children
a number of very simple questions.
"Show me the white doll."
"Show me the colored doll."
We then asked them preference questions.
Such as, "Show me the doll
you'd like to play with."
"Show me or give me the doll
that's a nice doll."
"Show me the doll that's a bad doll."
And we found that the majority
of Black children at that time
did, in fact, ascribe
the positive characteristics
to the white doll
and the negative characteristics
to the brown doll.
I then asked the question,
"Now show me the doll that's like you."
Some of those children looked at me
as if I were the devil himself
for putting them in that predicament.
It was the beginning
of psychologists' understanding
of, uh, the terrible damage
that's done to human beings
by racial rejection.
And that sent a shock wave,
I think, through the Black community.
Uh, understanding very thoroughly,
uh, that little Black girls
did not have self-esteem,
did not think of themselves as beautiful,
and would prefer to have a white doll.
[Patricia] And the outcome of that test,
many of the judges on the Supreme Court
in the Brown v. Board of Education
said it was the piece of evidence
that pushed them over.
Not the statistics,
not the unequal supplies
going to the schools,
not the slipshod construction
of the schools.
None of that was as convincing
as what they got from the Clark test.
So, as a result of that,
we got the Supreme Court decision
in Brown v. Board of Education
that desegregates the school.
[upbeat music plays]
[Beulah] In 1953,
I moved to Los Angeles with my mom.
In '55, my sister got married in July.
Her sister-in-law worked for Mattel,
and she said,
"Do you all wanna work during the summer?"
Because they were hiring kids in college.
You really were supposed to have been 18,
but I put my age up and got the job.
[upbeat music continues]
This is me.
Uh, spinning the jack-in-the-box.
It says, "Eleanor Ruiz also secures
the top and bottom to the Jack body,
and Beulah Mitchell, at machine,
gives the Jack a spin."
I was called a "spinner,"
so I got paid a little more
for doing this particular job.
[upbeat music continues]
This is me, and this is my sister.
We started the same day.
This is Ruth Handler and Elliot Handler.
We worked for the original owners,
and it was like...
They called themselves a mom-and-pop shop.
We just loved, uh, Ruth
'cause she was such a strong woman.
Ruth Handler, she went overseas
and came back and wanted to make
this doll with breasts.
We was just shocked.
And I was on the first line
because I had became a... a lead girl.
Barbie, you're beautiful
You make me feel
My Barbie doll is really real
[Beulah] She named those dolls
Barbie and Ken after her two children.
I remember them when they were small.
They're a little younger than I am.
This book was written by Ruth Handler.
And in this book,
uh, she has my name.
[Lagueria] So how did you strike up
this friendship with your boss?
Oh, because she was always personable.
I worked on the lines,
and she would come through and watch us.
And we would be working so fast,
and she would say,
"Do you have any suggestions
of what I should do?"
She would ask us questions.
"Do you think that this doll
would be a good seller?"
"What else do you think we should do
to make this doll work?"
She thought as much we thought
as she did the people in the office
because we were making the toys.
In '60 or '61, they're saying,
"Well, we want a Black Barbie."
She said, "Well, good. We'll see."
Asking Ruth Handler
to consider incorporating
a Black Barbie into the product line,
that was a little act of revolution.
We often take for granted
the generations before us,
and the steps that they took
are often remarkable.
In the '60s, Mattel created
friends for Barbie, uh, that were Black.
Francie, the original doll,
came out in 1966.
She was marketed as Barbie's cousin.
In 1967, Mattel offered
a Black version of Francie.
Christie came out in 1968.
[woman 10] I was most proud
of my Christie doll.
They have her labeled
as Barbie's babysitter and best friend.
I'm like, "She can't be both."
She can be the best friend,
but she ain't nobody's babysitter.
[woman 11] The features were not of us.
The cheekbones, the nose,
the lips, the eyes, everything.
So it was as if, "Okay,
we can just make the doll a darker skin,
and that should suffice."
[Virginia] And then Julia came along.
Julia was fashioned after
the first African American woman
who was the lead in a television show,
and it was Diahann Carroll.
Clinic, Mrs. Baker speaking.
To me, Diahann Carroll as Julia
was the first Black woman
to lead a television series.
And so it had that significance for me.
I was already starting to work
in television, and I just loved her.
I thought Julia Baker was, like, the best.
I had Christie dolls.
I had the Cara dolls.
I had, like, three Cara dolls.
They all looked exactly the same,
but they were doing very different things.
I don't think I ever thought
of Cara and Christie as not Barbie.
You know, they were
what Barbie meant to me.
But to find out later
that those dolls were not Barbie,
and very specifically
considered not Barbie,
was interesting to me.
[funky music plays]
[sirens wail]
[woman 12] Lou Smith and Robert Hall,
who had witnessed the Watts Rebellion,
wanted to do something
to address the poverty and unemployment
that was taking place
in South LA in the Watts area.
They devised this organization
called Operation Bootstrap
to provide job training.
[funky music continues]
[man] Opening Blacks up
to the technological world
that they haven't been involved in.
Yes, that's our job.
Showing cats that there's better ways
to use their talent
than hustling on the corner.
Yes, that's our job.
And so, through Operation Bootstrap,
there was a number of businesses
that formed.
And one of the most, uh, successful
of those efforts
was the Shindana Toy Company.
My father thought Black kids
needed a positive self-image,
and he decided to make Black dolls
that look like Black people.
And he talked the owners of Mattel,
Elliot and Ruth Handler,
out of $200,000 to start the toy company.
Lou Smith was, uh, ahead of his time,
and he was an activist.
And when they produced the toys,
that was an accomplishment.
When they made the deal with Mattel,
uh, that was considered
a great achievement.
They gave them everything to work with.
They sent people
from our company over there
to show them how to make Black dolls.
[Yolanda] Folks at Mattel introduced them
to some of the manufacturing processes
that they utilized.
There was an investment in really wanting
the Shindana toy factory to succeed.
[funky music continues]
So this is Baby Nancy,
and she was born in 1968.
So you could buy Baby Nancy
with the natural
if you wanted the doll with the natural.
And then she had short, curly hair.
[Lagueria chuckles]
And this is her original outfit.
They were very much
about recognizing features
that were much more accurate
than what we were originally seeing
with Mattel dolls.
[Yolanda] She was really stamped
with a level of authenticity.
She's also the only Black doll
that's inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame.
[Billie] So this is Disco Wanda.
Disco Wanda was made in the '70s.
[Yolanda] Shindana produced
their version of a fashion doll.
Not only would kids receive toys,
they would also receive a little booklet.
In the booklet,
you have Nurse Wanda, Ballerina Wanda.
You have the Airline Attendant Wanda.
They were all based on real people.
[Lagueria] Real Black women?
On real Black women.
[Yolanda] Those dolls were modeled
after local women and their careers.
And they wanted to tap into careers
that made sense
for young Black girls in particular.
[Amitis] The Shindana Toy Company
made dolls and toys accessible
to all children,
and they were all adorable
and wonderful to play with.
I think it was due to the people
that worked at Shindana
and who ran the company.
[Lou Smith] The entire labor force
came from South Central LA.
99% of the workers from Shindana
could almost walk to work.
Although parents are buying these dolls,
and they may not be there
in the factory to see that,
they have a sense of that.
Ultimately, the Shindana Toy Company
would become
the largest producer of Black toys
during the '70s and early '80s.
It became this amazing
proof of concept, basically,
that, you know,
there is a market, it is viable,
and there is a way to produce product
that that market really wants
and really appreciates.
By the time the '80s rolled around,
bigger corporations
started to tap into their model.
And eventually, by 1983, it was...
It closed down.
[Beulah] I worked 14 years in the factory,
and in '69,
I was able to go into the office.
I always kinda told myself,
"Well, they needed
somebody that... of color."
Because they had one Black guy
that was a programmer
up on the sixth floor,
and I was the second person being Black.
I always loved people,
and everybody felt comfortable with me.
I'm just that type of person. [laughs]
They hired a Black girl, Kitty Black.
They got her from Trade-Tech.
She came in as a designer for the clothes.
Our first Black designer.
I am Kitty Black Perkins.
I designed the first Black Barbie doll
for Mattel toys.
I answered a blind ad.
I went for the interview,
and I left there thinking,
"I have to have this job.
I can't do anything else."
They asked me to bring one design.
Take a doll, dress it,
bring the flat patterns back,
as well as the sewn garment.
I came back with six designs
instead of one.
[Patricia] What Beulah Mae did,
she laid the groundwork
for Kitty to come in as a professional.
They're... acclimated to the presence
of a strong, competent Black woman
in the workplace.
That enables the next step,
which is a strong, competent Black woman
as a designer.
Whether or not Kitty
would have been welcomed
had Beulah not been there,
I'm not sure you can say.
I met Beulah probably the second day
after I was hired at Mattel.
We were proud of her
because she... she drove a sports car,
and she matched our Black Barbie. [laughs]
We thought she was a Black Barbie.
A... a real Black Barbie.
- How you doing?
- Kitty!
You look great. How are you?
[Beulah] Blessed
and highly-favored to be here.
Okay, girl.
- I belong to the CRS club.
- What is that?
Can't remember shit.
[Kitty laughs]
I'm a member too. [laughs]
- Well, I was at Mattel for 28 years.
- [Lagueria] Okay.
But during that whole time, I knew Beulah.
[Beulah] Straight out of Trade-Tech.
First Black designer for the Barbie.
Put Black Barbie before the Barbies,
and she did excellent.
You know, those days
were so exciting for me.
And everybody who was Black
in the company,
uh, didn't matter what their position was,
and it was very few,
was coming to find me.
Which I thought was so nice.
My name is Shonda Rhimes.
I'm a television producer, a writer,
and I'm also the first woman
to create three television dramas
that have achieved
the 100-episode milestone.
Somebody has to be the first.
And I was never excited to be the first.
It felt like a burden.
I felt like if I didn't succeed,
would anybody else get a chance behind me?
That felt important.
Would they ever put a Black woman
in a lead on a television show again?
Those things were very important.
My name is Misty Copeland.
I am a professional ballerina.
I'm the first Black woman
to ever be promoted
to the position of principal ballerina
in American Ballet Theatre's
now 80-year history.
I met Susan Fales-Hill,
who was on the board
at American Ballet Theatre.
Incredible Black woman
who became my mentor
and started to really
just kind of open my eyes up to...
It's about bringing Black women together
and supporting one another.
My name is Ibtihaj Muhammad.
I am an Olympic athlete.
I'm a fencer, and I'm also a Barbie.
Because I grew up
being the only African American,
being the only kid who wore a hijab,
sometimes, even, like,
in a sport like fencing
and fencing a weapon like saber,
sometimes being the only girl,
I really learned early on
that I had to show up for myself
and not be fearful of being the only one.
[Misty] It's a protest. [chuckles]
It's a protest just being in a Black body
and being on that stage,
a part of a history
that does not include you,
that wasn't built for you.
And so I felt like this pressure
fueled me to keep going
because just stepping on that stage, uh,
could possibly change one person's life.
By the time I became a soloist
and a principal,
it was like this feeling of
"If I don't make it to this place,
when will there ever be
another Black girl in the company
given this opportunity?"
And it became, like, you know, relentless.
I was like, "I have to do this."
[Beulah] She was our first Black designer.
I can remember,
uh, when Kitty called us together
and she said,
"Don't you think they should be able
to make a doll of Black features?"
And that was on her mind.
I do think that there is damage done
when you force children of color
to play with white dolls.
My name is Monica Bailey.
I am a mother of three.
I grew up in Inglewood, California,
and was mostly raised in Arizona.
We were in a very small town,
so trying to even find spaces
that were Black spaces was very difficult.
Mostly, the dolls I played with
were white dolls.
So I would literally get some hair grease
that my mother would put in my hair
and put it in there
from the scalp to the root,
comb it, try to make it kinky, nappy,
to make it look like me a little bit.
Even though I know it wasn't,
it made me feel like it...
it was connecting me in some kind of way.
The eyes that were blue,
I would get a colored crayon or a marker
and literally color the eyes brown.
The Barbies I had,
they were white Barbies,
and I felt like I needed
to look like them.
But having that,
um, to be a standard made me feel,
myself and other Black girls,
feel inadequate.
I was like, "I need to look like them.
I need to be them."
I remember that. I'm getting chills
thinking about that right now.
It was very...
[exhales slowly]
Wow! I wasn't expecting that!
I just remember, um,
not feeling like I was beautiful.
[voice breaks] Because of my skin
and my hair texture.
And being around people
that did not look like me
and didn't accept me.
It was very trying.
It was very trying. It was very hard.
Your mind is...
and everything that you, like, conceive
to be true or to be not true,
you learn it as a child.
And if these Barbies
are not representative
of what our real reality looks like,
then what are you really saying
to these kids?
Like, "You don't exist."
[Kitty] When I designed this doll,
there was a need for the little Black girl
to... to really have something
she could play with
that looked like her.
[gentle music plays]
[Kitty] I wanted her just to reflect
the total look of a Black woman.
With the regular Barbie,
um, the gown was always full,
and the hair was always long.
Well, I wanted her to be
the complete opposite of Barbie
and the complete opposite of Christie
in that I gave her bold colors,
bold jewelry, short hair,
and a wrapped skirt
that could actually show skin.
One of my favorite singers was Diana Ross.
My fashion that I did
kinda looked like something
that Diana Ross would wear.
There was another hair designer
named Mellie Phillips,
and she was Black,
so we came up with the short natural.
I had a short natural myself at the time.
We had a designer in sculpturing, Abol.
He was a man of color.
We made her lips a little bit fuller.
We made her nose a little bit wider.
Her skin is a little bit lighter
than the darkest that we could have done.
It was really a preference,
and I preferred that color.
I knew that Black Barbie was different.
I never realized the magnitude.
I'm coming
I'm coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show
I'm coming out...
[Yolanda] I can still feel
that sense of joy that I felt
when I first was introduced
to Black Barbie.
OG Black Barbie is so fly.
That 'fro is perfection.
She's about to hit, like, nightlife,
has a really sick red dress.
She has melanin, for real, in her skin.
[laughs] She's a little brown girl.
[Lagueria] And so when did you first
fall in love with Black Barbie?
When I first got one in my hand. [laughs]
It says, "She's Black.
She's beautiful. She's dynamite."
That was a pride, for sure,
to see your first Black Barbie.
[Patricia] For me,
the step forward that was made
when they called the Black doll Barbie,
and not Francie or another name,
was it allowed the Black girl
to be the heroine of the story.
In all of the imagined play with Barbie,
she's the center of attention.
She's the belle of the ball.
She's who you would want to be.
And I don't think in anyone's life
you should wanna be
the belle's best friend.
It's just a sort of acknowledgment
of your existence,
and that you're here,
and that you are valued.
Crowning the... this... this doll as Barbie...
The fight for "No, no, no, no,
we can't just call this
a fashion doll or a..."
"This is a Barbie too."
...was telling the world
Black is beautiful too.
So I'm so grateful
that we are included now
in the legacy of that.
There was, within my family,
within the adults,
the kinds of discussions
about whether this was a step forward.
Um, whether she looked like the doll
that you would want
to give a member of the family.
And I hate to be reductive,
but it's all about the hair.
We did do a focus group.
Some of the comments from the moms
were about the hair being short
rather than long
or the dress being slim rather than full.
They didn't know
whether this was done intentional
or whether it was just slighting.
Mattel, at that time, invited a, um,
child psychologist
into Mattel, uh,
to discuss the whole doll.
It was about the same feeling
that the moms had had.
But when the child psychologist found out
that the designer was Black,
it all went away.
[Lagueria] It took 21 years
for one Black fashion doll
to be worthy of the Barbie name.
Dang, it's a doll, y'all.
Keeping it real,
I didn't know Black Barbie existed
until my aunt told me her story.
And that got me thinking.
"Do people know about Black Barbie?"
- Can I see her?
- [Lagueria] Yes.
This is one of her outfits.
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah,
I actually have seen her
'cause I thought she looked
exactly like Diana Ross.
Yeah, I have seen her. Thanks.
Whoo, I missed that.
She's a little light-skinned.
Oh, like a Foxy Brown.
- [Lagueria] Yeah.
- Yes, yes, she looks very '70s.
This fit is cute.
The, like, off-the-shoulder cutout.
- This is cute.
- [Lagueria] Yeah, yeah.
And this is their version of a 'fro,
I guess, right? [laughs]
I barely knew that she existed.
I do remember seeing a picture of her.
For what time it was,
I definitely didn't see it
in the context of "It's the first."
I don't know if I ever saw
the official first one.
So maybe I... I didn't get that one
at my store. [laughs]
I never saw it out in the market.
Here I am now in my forties.
I'm like, "It existed all along?"
It's nice to see
that they were creating a replica
of what Black women
looked more like at that time,
at least from the neck up.
But I never saw that. So I'm just
disappointed I missed out on it.
[Lagueria] You know, on that note
came another question.
"Did they market Black Barbie?"
I don't think
I ever really saw the commercials.
I must have because I watched
Saturday morning cartoons,
but I don't think
I really ever saw the commercials.
If you saw a Barbie commercial,
it was Barbie was white.
[Patricia] If Black dolls were promoted
as the most beautiful and hot commodity,
they would have sold just as well,
if not better,
than the white Barbie.
I think I got a knockoff one.
I don't know if my parents got me the...
Because they were hard...
They were still hard to get.
I think that if Mattel really knew
how well it was gonna do,
more, um, effort would have been
put into maybe creating
a world of Black dolls
rather than just one.
[lively music plays]
["Control" by Janet Jackson plays]
[Lagueria] Um, I'm kind of
low-key loving this story
about my aunt, Kitty, Black Barbie,
and just talking to people
about Black dolls.
Okay, so I'm not saying I love dolls now,
but, you know, I'm learning
why they're not only important to her,
they're important in general.
And it's got me thinking
about little Lagueria
and how she and her sister used to play.
We used to play
by putting slips over our head,
pretending it was long, blonde hair.
As kids, we didn't understand
what that meant.
But now it gives me a lot more
to think about when it comes to play
and what it would mean
to have a world of Black Barbies.
- [girls] Ooh!
- [woman] Shani is here!
Shani, Shani
You walk, you smile
Who, girl? You, girl
You got style...
[woman] Here's Shani and friends.
So hot
We love all the looks you've got
I also did
a Black line of dolls called Shani.
That particular line was as a result of
the success of Black Barbie.
I started collecting
Barbie dolls in college.
When I saw Shani, there...
That was a new horizon.
Well, they had Asha,
who was about your complexion,
and she had keener features.
They had Nichelle, who looks exactly like
my Aunt Toosley, my mom's cousin.
And she was super dark.
And then they had Shani, who is,
like, you know, just a pretty brown girl.
It was revolutionary.
[Kitty] When they released the dolls,
the introduction to that
was a huge production
that they did in New York.
And I wonder
- Wonder
- Wonder
They wanted a doll that...
that had several different shades,
as the Afro-American community does.
I remember there was an article
in The Village Voice.
They went on for pages and pages
about these dolls
and how important this new thing was.
And I saved that article.
I have it somewhere in storage.
[woman 13] Shani is going to be
our entry into the ethnic marketplace.
It's going to be heavily marketed,
which is also a first
because currently, there isn't
any African American doll line
that receives its own commercial,
that receives print ads and support,
that will receive the PR focus
and promotional tie-ins
that we've developed.
My name is Isis McKenzie Johnson.
I initially fell in love with Black Barbie
when I was a teenager.
Coming from Watts in South Central LA,
there was so much hardship.
You didn't have time to focus on vanity.
You just wanna get through the day.
Then when my family finally moved out
of the inner city to Rancho Cucamonga,
there wasn't that many people of color
that were there.
So I was called "nigger."
I was called "chocolate bar."
I was called so many derogatory words
and names to describe me
because of the way I looked.
Oh my gosh,
I'm totally ruining my makeup. Um...
And there was nothing I could relate to
when I would watch television.
That I could associate myself
and find an escape from the reality
that was beating me up
'cause of the way I look.
Most kids escape to television,
but whenever I watched TV,
everyone was still white.
When I finally start seeing a few shows
where there were Black people,
they were always poor.
It was always a reminder of
the struggle is always
gonna be real for you.
So when Black Barbies
finally came on the market,
she represented success,
she represented beauty,
and I could see
possibility in her for myself.
Those little white girls had...
They could
see possibility in their Barbies.
I would look at that Barbie,
and I would try to see possibility,
but I'd be reminded through my reality
that that's not your possibility
because you're Black.
And, uh, when Black Barbie came out,
I was like,
"No, I think it is possible for me."
So I... I don't...
All the haters out there can kick rocks
because it did a lot for me.
Black Barbies did a lot for me.
[Kitty] Because I had made
a name for myself, I was given a group
so that we could do even more dolls.
My name is Stacey McBride-Irby,
former Barbie designer.
As a little girl,
I loved playing with dolls.
Barbie was my favorite.
So that's what made me
wanna be a fashion designer.
There was a newspaper article
from Los Angeles Times
featuring Kitty Black Perkins.
My dad saved the newspaper article for me
because he wanted to inspire
and empower me.
When I got into the garment district
or industry in the early '90s,
I didn't see many people
that looked like me.
But I didn't really have a plan B.
I brought out that newspaper article
of Kitty Black Perkins.
I cold-called her.
- Hey!
- Hey!
[Stacey] How you doing?
When I first saw Kitty,
she had this white business suit on,
and she had this big curly hair,
and I'm like, "Oh my God, she's like
I know she has a convertible,
so her hair can blow in the wind.
I don't know.
It was just something about you.
The interview went great.
She gave me an assignment.
I had to go home and buy a Barbie doll
and create a fashion for this Barbie doll.
And when we were sitting,
talking about what her expectations were,
what her goals were and all of that,
um, Stacey pulls out this folder.
She had all these articles
that she had clipped
from the newspaper about me.
She tried to make it look
like it just kinda fell out.
- But it did.
- Wait, wait.
She deliberately dropped it
so that I could see it.
I wanna tell you, that got you the job.
She was very ambitious.
Um, had a lot of great ideas.
And so I just hired her.
[Stacey] So I remember the first time
Kitty took me kind of on a tour,
and I met your aunt Mae,
and she was so bubbly.
Kitty introduced me,
so every time I went over
to the corporate, uh, building,
she would say, "Hi, Little Kitty."
[laughs] I'll never know
if she even knew my name was Stacey.
I became a receptionist in '89,
and I left in '99.
I was able to meet people
from all over the world.
The best thing about communicating
with people is a smile.
She just had so much energy,
and it was nice to see another Black woman
within the corporate building in Mattel.
I learned everything, actually,
I needed to know in the toy industry
from Kitty Black Perkins.
[Kitty] I hired her in as a designer.
I hired another Black designer.
His name was Thomas Quinn.
I just mentored them
to do their own thing,
and, uh, they were... they were great.
[Stacey] After approximately two years,
I was petitioned to come
to one of the other Barbie teams.
It was a little scary, but I was excited.
I felt like I was ready,
but it was just taking me
to a whole different world
because now I have to compete on my own.
[Kitty] I retired from Mattel in 2003.
When I left,
Stacey took on a major role,
which was great.
Don't you know why
I wanted to be an AKA
An Alpha Kappa Alpha
I wanted to be an AKA
[Stacey] One of my colleagues,
he was like,
"Stacey, we have this AKA doll."
Like, you know, "Do you wanna design it?
'Cause I don't know anything about it."
I'm like, "Yes, I would love to!"
[Ashley] Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority
Incorporated was founded in 1908.
So this was a hundred...
This was like a centennial doll.
It was like a collector's item.
These are some of the original sketches
that I created.
One was called the Contemporary Goddess.
One was the Businesswoman.
And one is... She's going to a Greek gala.
And the AKA sorority,
um, they actually wanted all three,
but we were only able to produce one.
People were looking for it.
I wasn't at Mattel. They were calling me.
It was sold out.
[Lagueria] Do you have the doll?
I do. Just like I have everything
that involves Kamala.
It's, like, you have to have it.
This is, like, a big... It's a big deal.
[Stacey] This was a doll
that I created on my own.
I did research, and it felt good.
It meant something to me.
And that's when I really got excited
about what could be next.
That's when So In Style was born.
Hi, my name is Sierra,
and this is my mom, Stacey.
[Stacey] Sierra actually inspired me
to design this African American
line of Barbie dolls
because I wanted to give her dolls
that looked like her,
reach girls in my community,
and give them dolls
that they could relate to.
My daughter, at the time,
was not playing with Barbie,
and I didn't understand it,
as a Barbie lover.
How Mattel would work,
marketing would tell us an idea,
and we would create from that idea.
And then we'll get from marketing,
"Oh, we need a Black doll as well."
So not all of them got Black dolls.
But then the retailers might not choose
the African American doll.
I wanted to create a line of dolls
that the retailers couldn't say no to.
The big sister
would mentor her little sister
into math and music
and cheerleading and science
or art and journalism.
So I wanted to have a fun aspect to them,
but I wanted them to be educated as well.
The Mattel African American Forum
kinda helped champion it.
Stephen came out with the logo.
David came out
with the "So In Style, S.I.S."
The packaging designer,
she and I went shopping
at the Slauson Swap Meet for inspiration.
So it was a whole team of us
kinda building this out,
and it... it felt great.
My daughter loved playing
with these dolls.
It was nice to see
something that I created
making my daughter have so much joy.
It was a very intentional, uh,
mission for my mom
to make sure that my sisters and I
saw ourselves in the toys
that we played with.
So she only purchased,
uh, Black Barbies for us.
It was made very clear to me
from very early on
that there were not gonna be
any white dolls in our house.
I used to make my own, uh, hijabs,
uh, for my dolls, growing up.
Especially if, uh, you know,
I was playing with the cars.
I couldn't get in without my hijab on.
You don't wanna mess up your hair.
I don't think, for me, they were dolls.
They were representations
of who I wanted to be at a certain point.
So, you know, they were doctors, lawyers,
flying all over the country. Doing stuff.
I think about what I do now,
which is tell stories
about powerful, interesting women
living these exciting lives.
I was doing that when I was five.
If Kerry Washington in Scandal
is not a Black Barbie,
down to the outfits
and the dress-up and the clothes,
I don't know what is, really.
I go by Byronique Barbie.
So I am a self-proclaimed
Black Barbie doll myself.
I have it tattooed
on my finger, "Barbie doll."
I have a whole wardrobe, um, earrings.
I don't know which is which,
but one says my first name, "Byronique."
One says "Barbie."
I do embody being the Black Barbie
in my own way
as far as being very adventurous,
having many different career paths.
I've skydived twice.
I've swam with sharks in Hawaii.
Um, jet-skiing. I've parasailed.
For so long,
I feel like it was a statistic
where it's just, you know,
a white-woman thing
to be adventurous,
to do all these exciting different things,
to have all these different lives.
But now, seeing a Black Barbie
can do the exact same things,
it's, like, so important to me,
and I try to embody that.
Being a boss-ass bitch, that comes
with a lot of pressure, a lot of stress.
But being able to walk through life,
and... and do it, you know, so effortlessly,
and I feel like that's what Barbie...
Black Barbie embodies.
Like, being able to handle the pressure,
handle the stress,
still keep it cute,
keep it classy, keep it together.
Just, you know, do you,
and make every single day count,
every moment count.
[Lagueria] So she's
really inspiring for you.
She is, she is.
I... I really be
going through my day asking myself,
"What would Black Barbie
do in this moment?" You know?
Uh... [laughs]
[Stacey] Every year, we would do
the United Negro College Fund event.
They wanted to celebrate
the 30th anniversary of Black Barbie.
I did not know
Stacey was gonna do the 30th anniversary.
I came back to a celebration
and found out that she did it,
and I was elated
because she was the best person to do it.
Here is the first Black Barbie
that I designed
for the 30th anniversary of Black Barbie.
And this is my rendition of the 1980 doll.
I wanted to jazz her up a bit
because I thought
both would be auctioned off.
But they only chose to do the one.
I was inspired by the cutouts
of the original jumpsuit.
She's a little... a little more sexy,
you know, so I put a cutout in the front,
and then, instead of a short jumpsuit,
I made a longer jumpsuit
and cut out on the pants legs.
And then I added,
you know, some rhinestone jewels.
And this is actually
my Chandra So In Style Barbie,
which was the darker skin tone.
[feel-good music playing]
[music fades]
[Lagueria] I thought this was gonna be
a simple story about stupid dolls,
but something about Black Barbie's story
hits different.
I'm relating to a doll, y'all.
Like, I feel connected to her,
to my aunt, Kitty, and Stacey
in a way that I have no words for.
Hearing this great legacy story
of how representation can work
is giving me so much joy right now.
I'm actually excited and curious
to see who's designing
the 40th Anniversary Black Barbie in 2020.
[Lagueria] Have you heard anything
about them celebrating
Black Barbie's 40th birthday?
Which is...
- Next year.
- [Lagueria] Yes.
Yeah, so I have not heard anything
about the celebration
of the 40th anniversary of Black Barbie.
Um, it would be great.
Give me a call.
I'd love to celebrate with you guys.
[Lagueria] Would the legacy continue?
I guess...
Bill is the... the kind of person
that grew up with Barbie.
He just kinda made Barbie his career.
I... I think I probably worked with him
about ten years.
My name is Bill Greening.
I'm a principal designer
on the Barbie Signature line.
I've worked for Mattel for 25 years.
I played with Barbie as a child.
Um, a lot of the dolls
I played with were Kitty's.
I played Barbies
with my cousin all the time,
and I remember
playing with a lot of Kitty's designs.
We played with Pretty Changes.
We played with Black Barbie.
We played with Pink and Pretty.
So when I think about
my childhood relationship with Barbie,
Kitty is a big part of that.
I was really thinking
of her original doll,
um, and how we could keep
the elements that Kitty liked.
I really tried my best,
I think, to try to link it up
but kind of just give it a little
modern twist, I guess you could say.
- And you did a fabulous job.
- Thanks, Kitty.
And it means...
When Kitty blessed it, I was like...
- [both laugh]
- That was the best compliment ever.
Yeah. I really wanted
to honor Kitty's legacy with this doll.
And I will also say, too,
the designer, um, aspect of it,
it's hard to find designers
that are targeting dolls.
[Bill] As far as designers,
we currently do not have
a Black designer on the team.
I know that is
very important for leadership.
And this is an opportunity
for a lot of little Black girls,
little Black boys,
to really focus
on replicating, uh, the Black Barbie.
Um, I am hopeful,
you know, like, we have a future Kitty,
a future Stacey, another Stephen,
like, coming in to really make an impact.
One of the interesting things
about Black dolls
is that, uh, when they are made
by Black people,
there is so much versatility.
There's so many different ideas
that come out.
So many looks.
So many ways by which they,
um, you know, create for their dolls.
It's very interesting
because, uh, you don't find,
you know, like, cookie-cutter dolls.
Uh, you find dolls that have
a lot of thought and a lot of creativity.
My name is Mason Williams.
I'm the senior director, global lead,
of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
at Mattel.
Been in the toy industry,
game industry for about 25 years now.
I talk about Barbie with extreme pride.
I love the fact that there was foibles
and the fact
that there needed to be called out
that we needed to be more diverse.
We needed to think about body image.
We need to think about all that stuff.
In Mattel's design departments,
we have a few Black designers,
but it's not much more
than you would have thought
when it was... when Kitty was there.
While companies have grown,
we've not grown exponentially
in our numbers.
Our numbers have grown,
like, one over one.
Let's look at what the current
constituents of the design departments
across the toy industry,
first and foremost, okay?
Black people are
the most underrepresented.
I don't think that that would be
a surprise to anyone.
Because you don't know what...
you can be something
if you've never seen it.
I go to career days. I've been going
for, I don't know, 20 years, right?
And... and when I go...
I put, "Mason, toy maker."
And I have always put that.
I still do, even as what I do now.
Because I believe in, like, showing
that there are cats out there
who are doing this.
We need to think about
getting folks involved earlier.
High-school level.
Partner with HBCUs a lot more.
Open up the... the ways
that we're seeing the... the skill sets,
the education requirements.
Really investing in a pipeline of talent.
Now, again, it takes the moment
to say, like, "Let's go do this."
And so that's the important piece.
And for too long,
those conversations stalled out.
I am Tasja Kirkwood.
I am the head of Global Consumer Insights
here at Mattel.
You know, I... I... I... talk to kids all day.
Um, a lot of what I do
fuels the design and development process,
and I think that's really important
when it comes to this topic specifically.
I do think the pipeline
is super important.
I think it's about diversity,
but it's also about
diversity of thought, right?
We all think differently.
We have different experiences.
So infusing that diversity of thought
into everything we do,
from design and development
to marketing to strategy, whatever it is,
it's extremely important.
We just have to amplify
what these jobs actually are
and what the possibility
of impact actually is.
And I think that that's the thing, right?
That's... that's what Black Barbie did.
She showed
there were career possibilities,
and we just have to continue
to amplify that ourselves as well.
[Lagueria] Yes, let's do this.
Let's jump-start
those stalled conversations.
I mean, all of this started
with a question
from a conversation
between me and my aunt.
Now look how far we've come.
From one Black Barbie
to a world of Black Barbies
to more Black women becoming Barbies.
I am here for all of this. Yes.
So I remember when I got the message
that Mattel had called and said,
"We'd like to make Shonda a Barbie.
Would she like to be made into a Barbie?"
I was like, "Absolutely."
That was so exciting to me.
It felt magical.
To be in a moment where,
you know, you get the call,
and they're gonna make
a Barbie in your likeness.
I just thought it was so exciting.
It was like, "Wow, I can be a part
of this thing that is, um, iconic to me
in a different way
because Black women are a part of it now."
So this is my Barbie.
I cried big tears when I first saw her.
I love this doll.
This is my doll, um, the Shonda doll.
I call her Glamour Shonda
because she's all dressed up.
So this is my second Barbie doll.
This one, um, was the ballerina princess
that I played in, um, Disney's
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.
I was completely a part of the process.
Shondaland has an amazing
sort of head of design,
and so... Sandie Bailey.
So Sandie came in and really had
those conversations with Mattel
about what the doll should look like.
I would get things from her,
and I would say, "My butt's too small."
And she'd go back
and find a lovely way to talk about that.
The first thing that we did
was send them reference photos.
So Shonda and I worked to pull
maybe five to eight photos
that she really felt had the right hair,
the right face and makeup,
in that time period
that she wanted the doll to look like.
I wanted to make sure that if,
you know, people were seeing this,
it was a representation of me as I am.
Not some perfect,
you know, like, sanitized version.
I made sure
that her waist was thick, you know?
And I made sure that,
you know, she had a chest like I had.
One has a more... a little bit more
of an hourglass shape,
um, and their butts
are definitely different.
We ended up going with this one.
She's really gonna represent me.
And I remember,
in the last iteration of the doll, she...
Her bust was not big enough.
They were like, "It's too late, Misty."
I was like, "Well, pad that bra."
So we padded her bra. [laughs]
[Ibtihaj] You know, I was told as a kid
that I had big legs, right?
And I feel like these legs
helped me win an Olympic medal,
so I want my Barbie doll's legs
to be really strong and to be athletic.
I'm going to be a second Barbie,
which is amazing.
To have them come back and say,
"We want you to do another one
more representative of the work you do."
I wanted her to look more professional.
I think the second Barbie
was a great opportunity
for young girls to see,
you know, a writer,
a woman of color in a position like that.
I've always said, you know,
you really have to be able
to have the power to dream something.
You don't have that power to dream it
if you've never seen it before.
[Monica] So the dolls that I buy
for my daughters are all Black dolls.
I even try to buy dolls
that have hair textures like them
so they can kind of relate more.
Now it's, like, normal.
Like, "Oh yeah. Of course she has locs."
"Of course she has an Afro."
Like, "Why wouldn't she?"
[Byronique] We have Barbie doll
in a wheelchair. That's... that's great.
All those things are so necessary.
So necessary
in the world we live in today.
I have a daughter.
She's still young. She's seven.
The imaginative play is about the world,
and it's about creating a community.
So she has more dolls,
and they are a variety of color.
'Cause I want her to know
that, in addition to yourself,
there are many different people
in the world
with different languages
and different ideas
and different perspectives.
In so many ways, it can change the world.
I mean, that sounds, like,
intense and so large,
but it... but it's true.
Even from a young age,
children can learn about inclusiveness.
They can learn about diversity.
They can learn about
different textures of hair and melanin
and all these things that,
if you're just looking at dolls
and Barbies that look just like you,
your mind isn't gonna be able
to open itself up to that.
Whenever I know a white person
that's having a child,
they know... [laughs]
...that the gift I'm giving them
is a Black doll,
a book with Black kids in it.
Same with my Black friends that have kids.
So far, all the feedback
has been positive.
No one has ever been like,
"Why did you give me this Black doll?"
Kids just love it.
[intriguing music playing]
[Lagueria] But how far
do we still have to go?
I mean, Barbies are more inclusive now,
so I would like to think
that little Lagueria
would have liked
playing with these Barbies.
But I still wondered,
how much has actually changed?
My name is Amirah Saafir.
Um, I am a professor
at Cal State Fullerton
in the Child & Adolescent Studies
and I'm really interested
in how contextual factors,
especially school contextual factors,
impact how Black kids feel
about their Blackness.
So the idea was really
just to hear from kids
and to show them Barbies
as they appear today
and to hear how they're perceiving them.
The inspiration from it
was the doll test by Clark and Clark,
and so I'd say it was inspired by that
but not modeled after it.
We wanted to be intentional about
not centering the conversation
on Black versus white
but rather all the shades
and shapes and sizes
that Barbies can come in.
And then the last piece
was this conversation with experts,
where we have researchers,
people who specialize
in a variety of different things,
to really get this kind of rounded
perspective on what all of this means.
[woman 14] You ready?
[kids] Ooh, see you at the finish line
[woman 14] Tell me which one
is the prettiest one to you.
- The prettiest one to me...
- [woman 14] Mm-hmm.
...I think is,
um, Brooklyn.
- Brooklyn's the prettiest?
- Yeah.
- Why do you think she's the prettiest?
- Because she has Black skin like us.
[Yeshiva] Oh, she does have Black skin
like all of us.
That's true. That's very true.
And she also has
the unique ability to play the guitar.
Which one do you think is the prettiest?
This one's the prettiest.
What makes this Barbie so beautiful?
- [boy] Because of her dress.
- [Yeshiva] You like her dress?
Mm-hmm. Is there anything else about her
that makes her beautiful?
- Her shoes.
- [Yeshiva] Her shoes.
- Because I love her outfit.
- [Yeshiva] Mm-hmm.
- And I love her hairstyle.
- [Yeshiva] And you love her hairstyle too.
- I like her shirt and her purse.
- [Yeshiva] Mm-hmm.
These beautiful shoes and her hair.
When they're talking about the Barbies
and talking about their favorite Barbie,
a lot of them talk about
the dresses that they have on
or the shoes that they have on,
and less about their skin tone.
So I guess I wanna kind of get
you all's take on that.
And how you... what you think that means,
the way that they're thinking about race,
for the salience of race.
Or how... if... if race is on the forefront
of their mind, as kids.
Well, I work
at a public elementary school,
um, and when they talk
about anything remotely related to race,
they don't use the word "race."
- That's right.
- I don't ever hear that word being...
I've never really seen it
in the curriculum.
It's more like "ethnicity," "culture."
So those... And, like, watching the clips,
they would say words like "culture,"
"ethnicity," uh, "religion."
Things that make people unique.
Have you guys heard
of something called race?
- No.
- No?
- No.
- What do you mean by "race"?
That's such a good question.
When I think of race, is... Wait.
One of the Barbies that liked to race.
Oh, like a running race? Yep.
When you talk to your mom and dad
and your family about race,
what words do they tell you?
- Mm-hmm.
- "Do not judge a book by its cover."
Oh. So what does that mean,
"Do not judge a book by its cover"?
Like a... Like a Karen
that's making fun of you.
If I say the word "race..."
what comes to mind for you?
- Racism.
- Racism comes to mind?
What's racism?
Um, when people judge you for,
um, the color of your skin
and how you look and your culture.
They don't necessarily
know the word "race."
- But "racism" popped out really quickly.
- Right.
What does your family and your mom and dad
tell you about being a Black person?
To be brave and always think
you're a beautiful Black queen.
My mom says
I should be proud of my Black skin,
and if anyone else
who doesn't have Black skin
asks, "What's Black girl magic?"
I'm gonna say, "Oh, it's not something
you would understand."
They say it's just, like,
okay to be you
even if you look different in the world.
Mmm. Mm-hmm.
'Cause you're still human
like everyone else.
They say that it's not okay
for cops to be mean to us
and... and put us on the ground
because we didn't do anything.
Even though they weren't using
the terminology we understand as adults,
they were telling us
that they knew about race.
Someone was like, "Oh, Black Lives Matter.
Black girls... Black girl magic."
So they're telling you,
"I do know about race."
But we do need to focus on more
giving them the language to talk about it.
[Yeshiva] It's the language,
what they're being told
and what they're hearing in some spaces,
but it's not necessarily
how they're living
and how they see other people living.
Because if everyone's the same
and skin color doesn't matter,
then why are Black men
being killed in the street by cops?
What is the role of Barbie
in helping kids understand this?
Should it be Barbie
or Mattel's responsibility
to be more intentional
in what they're doing
to help kids
make these distinctions as well?
- Yes.
- You think so?
Because I think
it's society as a whole's responsibility.
And I think there are
a lot of ways that, um,
that Mattel can
make it more obvious about what race
or what ethnicity
and what culture that a Barbie is.
Is there, like, a team, like, on Mattel
that, like, focuses on the different...
What difference means
and what that looks like?
I think that would be interesting.
I think that is really...
If we're really thinking about change,
it just can't be one person.
It has to be a team.
It has to be very intentional.
- [Yeshiva] Yeah.
- It has to be the right team.
Which one of these Barbies look like you?
- You would say this Barbie looks like you?
- [girl] Yes.
Uh, I think this one
looks a little bit like me
'cause she has, like, brown hair
and, like, brown eyes.
Why do these two Barbies look like you?
Because sometimes, when I like to do
my hair, I tend to put it in the back.
- She's pretty, and she has locs like me.
- [Yeshiva] Oh, right.
Anything else that makes her
like your mom?
- Yeah.
- What else?
She wears wigs. It looks like
she's actually wearing a wig.
[Yeshiva] Ah.
None of these Barbies really look like me.
Me either, actually.
What is the parents' responsibility?
What is our responsibility
beyond just giving them the exposure?
At the end of the day, I say that Barbie
is not gonna do anything
that you have not done, right?
Um, and that's on the parent end
as well as Mattel's end.
So I don't wanna place onto Barbie
the work that... which we should be doing
as a... as a society
to dismantle.
To me, the ultimate end work
of authentic diversity,
equity, and inclusion
is to disrupt the violent institutions,
the violent structures,
the violent dolls, doll-like worlds
that exist because of
the long legacy of colonialism.
And until we are doing that work,
then we just playing with ourselves.
My daughter's five years old, and she's...
Right now, she's a princess ninja
who wants to, you know, slay cantaloupes.
She has a good amount of Barbies,
and the thing that I'm proud about
is that she sees her Barbies
as all the same.
So, you know,
we got the full diaspora of colors,
skin tones, hairstyles,
body shapes, you know.
That's... I'm proud of that.
And I think that when I see
her play with her friends,
you really start to see the fact
that kids gravitate to the play,
not to what
they're playing with specifically.
I would bet that if you asked...
If you grabbed 30 kids right now,
and they said,
"What does Barbie look like?"
you might get 26 different answers.
Which one would you say
is the real Barbie?
This one's the real Barbie?
This one.
What makes this one the real Barbie?
Because of her skin.
- Because her hair is blonde.
- [Yeshiva] Because her hair is blonde?
That one's the real Barbie,
and then that one, they made after
so the Barbies
can look like some Black girls,
and they don't have to play
with white Barbies all the time.
I do a lot of research,
and I watch a lot of toy shows
and how they make it,
and, like, that was the first Barbie
to ever come out.
When you go to stores,
you see that they're...
- They're, like, the first Barbies you see.
- [Yeshiva] Mmm.
And on commercials too.
"Who is the Barbie?" essentially,
was one of the questions,
and they always pulled up
Miss Malibu, right?
And what that suggested to me is
Malibu is centered,
and everybody plays out
in proximity to her,
and that is the standard of the world.
Classic Barbie,
Malibu Barbie, regular Barbie.
That ideal is the message
that's presented to them
as what's normal, what's ideal,
what they should be striving for.
And they're, uh, able to understand
that... that Black Barbie,
that Latina Barbie, that Asian Barbie,
those came later.
Those are extra.
Those are so that we can see ourselves.
The societal structure
of power and privilege
where Black people are at the bottom
is clearly articulated to kids,
even if they can't use
that language to describe it,
'cause they can see
how this hierarchy exists
even in the toys they play with.
[girl] So if I had to choose,
I think it would be
the regular one, Barbie,
because real Barbie has her own show.
I think that one's the original Barbie
because when I was over there waiting,
I was watching the show,
and that's the first person
that popped up.
[woman 15] So my daughter,
when she watches the TV shows,
Black Barbie is not the main character.
We don't learn about Black Barbie's...
Or any of the Black characters really.
We don't learn about their families.
Um, really anything about them.
They're usually the sidekick.
It's almost like a present-day version
of the exclusion that was happening back
when there wasn't a Black Barbie doll.
- Have you seen any of Barbie's movies?
- Yes.
- I have.
- You have?
Which movie have you seen?
I've seen the spy one,
the space one,
the regular one.
I used to watch
her old Barbie Dreamhouse videos.
[Yeshiva] You did?
And, yeah, we watched,
like, a Barbie movie.
It was, like, a mermaid Barbie,
and it looked just like that.
I am Nachelle Jackson,
and this is my daughter, Kayden.
Hi. I'm 14.
And I was forced to play with dolls.
- You weren't forced to play with dolls.
- [laughter]
Um, and so I can remember a time
when we were several volumes in
to varying Barbie movies,
um, and we went to Target
to go find a new Barbie doll.
I remember being on that aisle
and saying, "Okay, here's a Barbie."
And I'm like,
"Okay, this is Barbie, and she's Black."
Um, and I remember
her being very adamant and saying,
"This is not Barbie
because Barbie's not Black."
"Barbie's white."
I think they need to include more races
to their shows.
'Cause they usually include just one race
as the main character.
The show didn't come out till I was older,
so when I hit, like, ten. Nine, ten.
Um, I liked it better
because it had a Black character in it.
That's probably why
I never saw Barbie as Black.
Because she was always... Because
the Black person was always the friend.
Like Nikki or Christie
or something like that.
My name is Aydrea Walden,
and I am a writer living in Los Angeles.
So I was a little familiar
with the Barbie Vlog
before I got involved with it.
There had been a couple of pieces
that just broke through into my radar.
I was familiar with Mattel.
I had done some work for Mattel
on other shows,
and so I had
a great relationship with them
when they approached me
about wanting to do something
to talk about the issues
that were going on in 2020.
- Hey, everybody.
- Hey, everyone.
So there is a huge movement going on.
People, millions of people,
across the world
are standing up to fight against racism,
and they're doing this because too often,
and for such a long time,
people have been treated unfairly
and, in some cases, even hurt by others
because of the color of their skin.
They basically said,
"We wanna do this as a Barbie Vlog,
and if you could say something,
what would your message be?"
People might think
that my life looks fine,
but the truth is
I and so many other Black people
have to deal with racism all the time.
I've always found it fascinating
that two people can be in the same space
and have very different experiences
based on who they are.
That was what I wanted to talk about.
Barbie and I had a sticker-selling contest
on the beach last month.
We split up and went different directions
to see who could sell the most.
Well, while I was on the boardwalk,
beach security stopped me three times.
They asked me all these questions
over and over, and they called my mom.
I never told you, but that's why
I sold a few stickers that day.
The security officers
thought I was doing something bad
even though I was doing
exactly what you were doing.
We took a few stories
of things that had happened to me,
true stories that had happened to me
in my life,
and made them age appropriate
for the audience.
And I do do that a lot in my work,
of taking bigger issues, adult issues,
and making them appropriate
for young audiences.
Usually, when I talk about these things,
people make excuses.
They say things like, "Oh, well,
maybe you should have had a permit
for selling on the beach."
But those are just excuses.
People did these things to me
because I was Black,
and they made
the wrong assumptions about me.
And they don't make those assumptions
about white people like me.
The setup was simple. It was
just two friends sharing experiences.
So I also thought it was nice
that we were modeling
two people talking about something
that might be uncomfortable
for both of them.
These stories are uncomfortable
to talk about and also to hear.
And I think
the team did a great job with it.
I'm really happy
with how the piece came out.
What's that...
what's that Dave Chappelle joke?
You know, "What does Ja Rule think?"
[laughs] You know?
I don't think I'mma go and be like,
"What does Barbie think about racism?"
Maybe let's... [laughs]
Let's... let's tee up Barbie.
Little white Barbie is an ally. I love it.
I love it if it works.
If, you know, little white girls
that, um, look up to Barbie
and wanna be just like her,
if they pay attention to that,
and they start pointing out racism to...
you know, when it's happening
and standing up for,
you know, their Black friends
or their, you know, Latino friends
or anyone who might be different.
It might help in seeing it for them
because a lot of times they don't see it.
I think the one thing
that that video was missing
was there was no actual actionable advice.
Just being an... an... an open ear
doesn't really, like, uh, arm you
with the tools to deal with what happens
when your friends
are being teased at a sleepover.
I'm a teeny, tiny bit sad
that kids can't just be kids.
Doesn't mean it's not necessary because...
because reality hits, and reality is real,
and it happens way, way, way too young.
And if this bit of reality meeting fantasy
can help build our world
into being more kind
and less, um,
innocuous to racism and discrimination,
then that is really beautiful,
and it's worth it.
I think it's amazing that they touched on
an important social issue.
I think, for, you know, kids that maybe
don't have those experiences,
to learn from those videos,
and maybe they weren't having those
conversations at home, that's amazing.
But my first thought was,
"But when has this character
even talked this much on the show?"
She doesn't.
You know, she might say a word
here and there,
but she's the sidekick all day long.
In order to have progress, you have
to have... you have to take steps, right?
Progress is not, like, you know...
is not done in a leap.
The... the representation has increased.
Last year's movie, Big City Big Dreams,
we have Barbie Roberts, Malibu.
She finally meets
another Barbie Roberts from Brooklyn.
- You're from Brooklyn, as in New York?
- Is there any other?
There is one I saw
where it was kinda cute.
It was the white Barbie
and then the Black Barbie.
They had the same dorm room.
Um, I think this is my room.
Um, it has my name on it. I'm Barbie.
But I'm Barbie.
- What's your last name?
- Roberts.
[both] We have the same name?
But it was really cool
how they were, like, showing,
"We have our melanated Barbie.
We also have the white Barbie."
But they're the same doll,
but it's a different variation
'cause of the skin tone.
So the Barbie multiverse is now opened up.
[Antwann] The thought is that,
"Hey, this is progressive"
because of the fact
that Brooklyn has made it
to the screen, right?
Um, it doesn't matter how she shows up.
She's in the space,
and therefore it is progressive.
I think it's interesting
that we understand
Brooklyn to be in competition
with someone who's wholly inadequate
to be on the stage with her, right?
And so this is the experience
that many Black women
experience day in and day out, right?
Um, it's seen as progressive
that we've hired you.
[pigeon coos]
[Antwann] One can be inadequate...
Whoa! their whiteness
and is seen as equal to...
Runaway suitcase. this particular case,
an over-credentialed Black woman.
And once again, ballet saves the day.
They are placed
on the same stage of competition,
and this is seen as progressive
when that is not the case.
I'll see you at the finish line
[Antwann] Even though they tied,
I still see that as "in service of."
How come Mattel could not lean in and say,
"All right, Brooklyn has the credentials.
She has a talent. She's taking this"?
[Lagueria] I think
for some of the children,
the media felt like
it was still skewing not as inclusive.
There was just talk in terms of
"What would it take
for, um, one of the Black characters,
one of the Latina characters,
one of the Asian characters,
to be the hero of their own story?"
Yeah, I think we're working there.
So we are working there.
With the expansion of the Barbie Roberts...
Excuse me, Barbie Roberts Brooklyn.
Expanding that out is a big step.
With the success of the movie last year,
Brooklyn is getting
a line bespoke for herself.
A whole universe for herself.
Where... where she's still friends
with Barbie Malibu,
but we're building a world
around Brooklyn.
The Brooklyn line is gonna have a TV...
like a Netflix series,
and gonna have dolls,
and probably interact even more
on the... on the vlogs and whatnot.
So it's expanding.
Parents today still talk about wanting
a Black Barbie or a Barbie of color
to be, uh, a main character,
and so I feel like the legacy
is around empower... empowerment.
It's around cultural impact.
Increased inclusivity
and... and representation is happening.
Uh, I think the number-one thing
to think about, again, is... is
pace matters,
and sustained pace that is achievable
and shows market impact
is better than a moment in time.
If it doesn't...
If... if we don't see the... the progress
at the speed with which I wanna see it
or you may wanna see it
or whomever wants to see it,
that's okay because my expectation
is... is to continue to push that.
And my realization
is that if it moves a little bit,
I'm doing the job. We're doing the job.
I don't think she will be as successful.
Because we live in a...
- I don't wanna say it.
- Say it.
[Kayden chuckles]
Um, we live in
a predominantly white world, I guess,
and most successful people
that you think of is
white, right?
And I think, since the demand is so high
with the white people,
I don't think the Black Barbie
will be a standalone character
without having at least
some type of white character in it.
- Huh. So she couldn't stand alone.
- [Kayden] Mm-mm.
I would want her to, but I don't think
it will be as successful.
Uh, I'm disappointed to hear that, um,
she didn't... she doesn't think
that it could be successful on its own
simply because it's a person of color.
[Lagueria] So that's my sister
and my niece.
I was surprised to hear
that's how she felt.
Are we really doing the job if it's 2024
and our kids are still thinking
that the world is predominantly white?
We've come such a long way
from Chapter One
and the lack of Black dolls.
Tell me about what's going on
in this book.
[Beulah] 70th Anniversary Book.
They had a quote that I had quoted.
"I'm blessed
because of 44 years at Mattel."
"I was most happy." Yeah, that was true.
I know Kitty's in here somewhere.
What is she saying?
"Kitty Black Perkins, creator of the first
Black Barbie and Holiday Barbie line."
"The best part of my job
is that every little girl loves me
once she finds out
what I do for a living."
[Lagueria] And here it is.
Let's see.
In 1980, as we know,
Black Barbie was born.
- [Beulah] Eighty-two.
- [Lagueria] In 1980.
- But let's see. Is Black Barbie here?
- [Beulah] No, it doesn't say that.
They're pushing boundaries.
[Lagueria] They're pushing boundaries,
but no mention of Black Barbie?
[Beulah] I know.
[Lagueria] I'm really sad
that Black Barbie didn't make
the... the "Pushing the Boundaries" list.
- [Beulah] No, she didn't.
- [Lagueria] No.
But Holiday Barbie did.
[Lagueria] While making this film,
I often thought of little Lagueria,
a shy, soft-spoken Black girl from Texas,
and what it would have meant to have seen
something like this documentary.
Seeing it and wanting to be it
because, like her aunt,
she wanted to ask the hard questions
and lay the groundwork
for future generations.
And, like Shonda, she felt the burden
of being the first, but did it anyway.
And, like Misty, she understood
that it was indeed like a protest
being in this Black body
saying you're a part of a history
that doesn't always include you.
And like Kitty and Stacey, she saw a need.
She saw a need
to tell Black Barbie's story.
To put her on the timeline.
Because Black Barbie is important,
and her story matters.
As you can see,
I found myself intentionally inspired
while making this film,
and I wondered how it would inspire you.
I think that's why films like these
are so important.
Um, preserving that legacy, if you will.
I absolutely think
Black Barbie paved the way, 100%.
[Kitty] I want everybody to know
that Black Barbie reflects who I am.
My personality and all of that
went into this particular doll.
I feel that I've been able
to give some kind of joy
to every little girl who played
with any of the dolls that I've designed,
and I think I've used my creativity,
which is God-given,
in a positive way.
I'm so grateful for the growth
and the future of where Barbie is headed.
However, I also know that it wouldn't be
headed toward the future that it is
if it weren't for Black Barbie.
And, again, so proud of Black women
for calling out things
that are important to us
in spaces where
we're so oftentimes silenced.
Like, that must have
been incredibly difficult.
And so I'm excited,
but I first have to pay homage
to how it even came to be.
I'm just so grateful for the legacy
that has been created from it.
- Hey, hey, hey
- Hey!
- Hey, hey, hey
- Hey!
[Lagueria] Okay,
so I don't hate dolls anymore.
I'm actually grateful to know their story
because it has given me so much life
to highlight how Black women rise up
and support each other.
These three women,
Kitty, Stacey,
and my aunt, Beulah Mae Mitchell,
teamed up together
because when they didn't see
what they wanted, they made it.
Hey, that's just what we do.
They were first
but made sure they wouldn't be the last
by passing the torch to me now.
So, like them, I saw a need,
assembled an amazing team,
and finally made Black Barbie
the hero of her own story.
I think they mad 'cause we fab
Oh, what a drag
Don't be so drab
Most imitated
But they put us in a bag
I'm 'bout to put
The melanated on the map
You mad, huh
We Black out tonight
We're the original gangstas
These are the facts of life
And we give you life
So you should thank us
You should be acting right
But you mad uptight
Tryna strategize
But when we Black out
Can't stop the fire
Can't nobody put it out
Can't nobody put it out
When we Black out
Can't stop the fire
Can't nobody put it out
Can't nobody put it out
- Black out, let's put it down
- Na, na, na, na
- Hey!
- Na, na, na, na, na
Black on both sides
That's how I like it
Na, na, na, na
Na, na, na, na, na
Black on both sides
That's how I like it
Na, na, na, na
Na, na, na, na, na
Black on both sides
That's how I like it
Na, na, na, na
Na, na, na, na, na...
I am so pleased to come into a studio
and so... see such diversity.
Uh, years ago, when I first, you know,
was early in politics, etc.,
uh, I didn't see this kind of diversity.
I didn't see makeup artists
that knew what color to put on your face.
I didn't see people behind the camera,
interviews being done
about people of color.
Things have changed quite a bit
in the entertainment industry.
I love seeing you all.
I love the diversity here.
Thank you for inviting me.
- Hey, hey, hey
- Hey!
- Hey, hey, hey
- Hey!
- Hey, hey, hey
- Hey!
- Hey, hey, hey
- Hey!
I'm thinking that the idea came up
at one point in time, several years ago.
Where is she?
Well, someday, there will be
a very mature Barbie.
I think they mad 'cause we fab
Oh, what a drag
Don't be so drab
Most imitated
But they put us in a bag
I'm 'bout to put the melanated
On the map
You mad, huh
We Black out tonight
We're the original gangstas
These are the facts of life
And we give you life
So you should thank us
You should be acting right
But you mad uptight
Tryna strategize
But when we Black out
Can't stop the fire
Can't nobody put it out
Can't nobody put it out
When we Black out
Can't stop the fire
Can't nobody put it out
Can't nobody put it out
- Black out, let's put it down
- Na, na, na, na
Na, na, na, na, na
Black on both sides
That's how I like it
Na, na, na, na
Na, na, na, na, na
Black on both sides
That's how I like it
Na, na, na, na
Na, na, na, na, na
Black on both sides
That's how I like it
Na, na, na, na
Na, na, na, na, na
Black on both sides
That's how I like it
Black on Black
Mixed with Black
Black on Black on Black on
We ain't no trend, that's a fact
We been the wave
Y'all all just ripples in the back
Black on Black on
We celebrate
Just call me cocky how we brag
It's facts though
I think they curious
Think they obsessed
With a girl like me, dipped in honey
Oh God, we blessed
We got that bomb, huh
We got that thing, yeah
When you was born with it
You cannot fake this
Na, na, na, na
Na, na, na, na, na
Black on both sides
That's how I like it
Na, na, na, na
Na, na, na, na, na
Black on both sides
That's how I like it
Na, na, na, na
Na, na, na, na, na
Black on both sides
That's how I like it
Na, na, na, na
Na, na, na, na, na