SXSW 2023 Video Interview: Lagueria Davis Talks Black Barbie (Exclusive)

Dolls offer a distinctive, unique meaning and sense of comfort for various groups of people around the world. While the executives at Mattel have viewed their signature toy, Barbie, as one of its greatest claims to financial and commercial success, women have long sought comfort in the fashion doll representing their aspirations, beliefs and lifestyles. However, filmmaker Lagueria Davis delves into why Barbie largely hasn’t served as an accurate representation of Black women in her new documentary, ‘Black Barbie.’

Davis wrote and directed the new movie, which features such prominent Black female leaders as Mattel insider, Beulah Mae Mitchell; former Chief Designer of Fashions and Doll Concepts for Barbie, Kitty Black Perkins, whose designs include the First Black Barbie in the late 1970s; Stacey McBride-Irby, the creator of So In Style Barbies; and Oscar-nominated actress, Gabourey Sidibe. All of the women who helped make Black Barbie delved into the cross section of merchandise and representation to showcase how they strive to elevate their own voices and stories, and refuse to be invisible, throughout the feature’s production.

‘Black Barbie’ chronicles how almost everyone has a Barbie story, no matter what their views are on the doll. Even if people never owned a Barbie, there’s a story as to why they didn’t have the doll. The documentary tells the story behind the first Black Barbie because she has a story too. It started with the filmmaker’s connection to Mitchell, who’s her aunt, and a seemingly simple question she had: Why not make a Barbie that looks like me?

‘The Long Game’ had its World Premiere during the Documentary Spotlight Screening Section of last month’s SXSW. In honor of the movie’s premiere, Davis generously took the time the day after the project’s premiere screening at the festival on March 11 to talk about scribing and helming the feature during an exclusive interview over Zoom. Watch the video interview with the filmmaker above.

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