Laverne Cox has made history as the first transgender woman to be immortalised as a Barbie doll.
The 49-year-old actress – who was born as a male called Roderick before starting the sex reassignment process in her 20s – has been honoured by the Mattel company and released as a collectible edition of their signature fashion doll.
In a statement, she said: “I can’t believe it. I love her outfit! What excites me most about her being out in the world is that trans young people can see her and maybe get to purchase her and play with her, and know that there’s a Barbie made by Mattel, for the first time, in the likeness of a trans person.”
The former ‘Orange is the New Black’ star went on to explain that she worked with designers of the toy and asked them specifically to make the doll look more like herself, as opposed to the classic Barbie image.
She added: ” I was very involved but I was like, ‘Can we make her look more like me? And more African Americans? And we had a conversation about highlights and lowlights because I’m blonde most of the time now, but I’m a black girl, so I need a dark root. And we had a whole conversation about how they can’t do that, but they could do dark low lights.”
Barbie was first launched in 1959 by Ruth Handler and has gone on to sell more than one billion dolls worldwide, but in recent years, the Mattel company has diversified the range to include dolls that vary in skin tone and size.
Laverne’s Barbie doll – which has been released in honour of her upcoming 50th birthday and launched at a Barbie-themed batch – joins legendary sitcom actress Lucille Ball and iconic fashion designer Vera Wang as part of the Barbie Tribute Collection, which is said to “celebrate visionaries whose incredible contributions have helped shape and impact culture.”