clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Ava DuVernay's Barbie is the gift we need

Mattel

Ava DuVernay, outspoken director of the Academy Award-nominated Selma, is at the forefront of a new generation of filmmakers not just earning but demanding accolades for their work and the work of other women and people of color. She "serves the story" by writing for and about black girls and women. So it was only fitting that Mattel make their latest Barbie, one of the single most recognizable and revered toy brands in the world, in her likeness.

Back in April, Mattel announced that DuVernay, alongside former Lucky magazine editor Eva Chen, Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth, actress Emmy Rossum, singer Trisha Yearwood, and five-year-old J. Crew fashion designer Sydney "Mayhem" Keiser, would be honored with their own Barbies as one of Mattel's "Sheroes." And there can be no denying that the final product does the director justice, complete with director's chair:

None of the dolls were made available to the public at the time, but DuVernay's was the only one that fans petitioned Mattel to release to adult collectors. The doll was finally released in a limited run yesterday — only to sell out in a matter of minutes.

The response is understandable, and speaks to how treasured a black female director is at the moment — a moment that sees women throughout Hollywood, like Shonda Rhimes and Lena Dunham, speaking out about the systemic issues affecting them and their work.

DuVernay is a treasured black director children (and adults) can look up to

"It’s pretty fantastic — particularly at this moment where the dearth of women filmmakers getting opportunity and access to make what they want is such a conversation, that I’m thrilled this particular profession is being amplified," DuVernay told BuzzFeed.

Children have been playing with Barbies for decades, but Mattel has strived in recent years to change her image into one that helps young girls believe they're capable of anything. Those efforts haven't always gone over well, but the company should be lauded for making a doll that immediately signifies a changing world.