It’s not every day that we see a Barbie doll modeled after real-life successful businesswomen. But on Sunday, Dec. 6, Barbie announced the release of a new doll commemorating one such successful female.
According to Buzzfeed, Mattel announced on Sunday that a doll that was created in the likeness of Selma director Ava DuVernay for their line of “Sheroes” dolls unveiled in April was finally available for purchase this week.
The news caused fans to erupt in applause and praise on Twitter; Many congratulated Mattel’s move to honor the director, while others explained that this item will be making its way onto their Christmas lists.
DuVernay spoke to Buzzfeed News about the response to her doll, explaining that people are responding to the diversity the doll represents. “It’s about the full spectrum of who we are. It’s not enough even to have one black Barbie … because black women are not a monolith. We have all different kinds of hair, all different kinds of occupations, all different kinds of passions, so I think what folks might be responding to is the variance,” she said in her Monday interview.
Buzzfeed explained that the doll is particularly important to DuVernay for two reasons. First, the proceeds are donated to two of her favorite charities — ColorofChange.org, an organization that serves to “strengthen Black America’s political vote,” as well as Witness.org, which trains activist to safely and ethically use video as a means to advocate for human rights.
Second, each doll comes with a very important accessory: a director’s chair. “That single accessory has the potential to encourage an entire generation of young girls to follow in DuVernay’s footsteps; it’s a level of tangible encouragement to enter a world long dominated by white men that DuVernay didn’t experience when she was a child,” wrote Buzzfeed‘s Jarett Wieselman.
DuVernay reflected on the importance of including the director’s chair with the doll, and summed up its significance in this way: “I want more girls to be able to see themselves behind the camera creating images we all enjoy and I want to call attention to the fact that women directors are here all over the world. When we say there’s a dearth of women directors, it’s not that there’s a lack of women who direct, it’s a lack of opportunities and access for women to direct and be supported in that. I hope that this can contribute to that conversation as well.”
And it seems as though it is already having a widespread impact: NBC reported that the doll went on sale on Monday, Dec. 7 at 1 p.m. Within an hour, Barbie tweeted that the doll had sold out, redirecting consumers to Amazon to purchase the limited-edition doll. Shortly thereafter, Amazon was also sold out, forcing fans to resort to eBay where the $65 doll was listed for as much as $350.
But for DuVernay, it’s not about the sales. It’s about allowing girls to do what she does best — tell stories.
“I spent a whole 12 years helping other people tell their stories as a publicist, so just to be able to go and write and get behind the camera, that’s my thing,” DuVernay told Buzzfeed. “That’s what I used to do with Barbie — just sit around all day with my sisters telling stories with our Barbies. And if I get to dress up on the side and have a Barbie and go to the Oscars, that’s fun too — but for me, I could tell these stories forever and am just glad I have the opportunity to do it.”