'Black Barbie' Documentary Is Coming to Netflix Thanks to Shonda Rhimes' Production Company

Black Barbie

Shondaland's 'Black Barbie' debuts June 19 on Netflix.

Barbieland meets Shondaland in the upcoming Netflix documentary Black Barbie.

Shonda Rhimes, the executive producer of television sensations like Bridgerton and Grey's Anatomy, is discovering the untold story of the first Black Barbie through her production company, Shondaland. The film follows the pivotal role three trailblazing Black women at Mattel had in creating a doll who looked like them and evolving the Barbie brand as we know it. 

As "Barbie Girl" plays, the trailer begins by prompting the audience to imagine a world without representation — a world Black girls experienced when faced with all-white dolls — and the consequences.

The trailer continues by exploring the long road to introducing the first non-white official "Barbie" in 1980. Through insiders' stories, the documentary examines the importance of representation, the influence of the Black Barbie doll, and how dolls can be crucial to the formation of identity and imagination.

'Black Barbie' poster - Neflix

Rhimes talked about 2023's Barbie movie to Variety in April. While she did watch the Greta Gerwig-directed film at home, she didn't seem impressed.

"No comment," she told the outlet when asked whether or not she liked it, before continuing, "OK, here's what I'll say. If you're expecting a 'Barbie' movie, then I thought it was great. But I think a lot of people were expecting so much more, and then tried to make it so much more. There was nothing wrong with the movie; I thought it was totally delightful. But the weight people put on a movie about Barbie was very interesting to me."

She added, "I've heard the song 'I'm Just Ken' in my house every single day because one of my kids sings it all the time. But, yeah, I think that people wanted it to be sort of this feminist manifesto that it doesn't need to be."

Rhimes was more excited about purchasing Black Barbie.

"I think there's something really powerful about it," Rhimes told the outlet. "I played with those dolls when I was a kid. We also had just a very interesting opportunity to add to that documentary, and to provide a lot more content and context. We have added interviews; we've been inside Mattel."

Black Barbie is a celebration of Black culture over the past 70 years, and is written and directed by Lagueria Davis, who is also producing with Aaliyah Williams. Camilla Hall, Jyoti Sarda, Milan Chakraborty, Grace Lay, Sumalee Montano, Betsy Beers and Rhimes serve as executive producers.

Shondaland's Black Barbie airs June 19 on Netflix.