The Ava DuVernay Barbie doll, inspired by the ‘Selma’ film director, sold out within 26 minutes after being released. (Courtesy Photo)
Holiday shoppers hoping to purchase the Ava DuVernay Barbie doll, designed by toy manufacturer Mattel, will have to wait until 2016, after the website sold out of the figure within minutes of going on sale. The one-of-a-kind DuVernay doll was unveiled in June, along with five others based on inspirational women in the entertainment industry.
DuVernay, director of the Oscar winning “Selma”, is a doll in the Sheroes collection. Her doll is styled with simulated locs, wearing tennis shoes, and boxed with a director’s chair. Officially released on Dec. 7 the doll sold out 26 minutes later, according to Mattel.
“The DuVernay doll, also called the Ava Barbie, epitomizes the intellect, character, power, and creativity of Black women,” said social critic Gertrude Ofori, who examines the intersections of race, gender, and power in her writings. “When you consider how far representations of Black females in toys have come in this country – from Topsy and golliwogs – to the DuVernay, it’s easy to understand why the doll sold out so quickly.” (Topsy and golilwogs were dolls which did not depict Blacks in a flattering manner.)
The collection was created to celebrate women who have inspired girls by breaking boundaries. Others in the collection include: Golden Globe nominated actress Emmy Rossum, Eva Chen, the youngest appointed female Editor-in-Chief of a national fashion magazine, Lucky, actress-activist Kristin Chenoweth, Sydney “Mayhem” Keiser, a five-year-old fashion designer with work appearing in Vogue and country singer-entrepreneur Trisha Yearwood.
“Barbie has always represented that girls have choices, and we are proud to honor six Sheroes who through their trade and philanthropic efforts are an inspiration to girls,” Evelyn Mazzocco, general manager of Barbie, said in a press release. “Started by a female entrepreneur and mother, this brand has a responsibility to continue to honor and encourage powerful female role models who are leaving a legacy for the next generation of glass ceiling breakers.”
The quick sales sent Mattel scrambling, though several sellers emerged on both Amazon and eBay, selling the dolls in excess of the original $65 price tag. Mattel has yet to announce another round of manufacturing.
DuVernay told Vanity Fair, “I love this because maybe some little girls or boys will be playing with a Black woman director. I played with Barbies that didn’t look like me and now there might be someone else playing with a Barbie that doesn’t look like them, but that’s fine. We need to understand all of our humanity. Being able to hold the representation of another person in your hands and tell stories through their eyes is a big part of the conversation.”
DuVernay later announced in a Tweet that all proceeds will be donated to Witness and Color of Change charities.
DuVernay was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, for the film “Selma,” which chronicles the historic 1965 voting rights campaign led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. While she did not win, the film did take home an Oscar for Best Song. Her other works include writing, producing and directing the feature “Middle of Nowhere,” and “I Will Follow.” Prior to filmmaking, DuVernay worked as a publicist for 14 years.