How Maya Angelou Inspired a Barbie Doll in Her Honor

Mattel paid tribute to the late Dr. Maya Angelou with her own Barbie doll as part of a line of Inspiring Women.

By Kaitlin Reilly Jan 16, 2021 7:33 PMTags
Dr. Maya Angelou, U.S. President Barack ObamaChip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Dr. Maya Angelou just received a huge honor from Mattel's most famous doll…Barbie! 

The I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings memoirist, civil rights activist and poet died in 2014 at age 86, but the toy maker has found a special way to share her legacy with younger generations. As part of the company's Inspiring Women series, a Barbie doll will be created in Dr. Angelou's likeness.

A statement to the press from Mattel reads, "[Mattel] knows children's early childhood experiences shape what they imagine to be possible, so it's important that all girls not only see themselves reflected in product and content, but to also see role models who've come before them." 

According to the official description from Barbie, the doll "holds a miniature replica of her prolific autobiography, while wearing a head wrap and floor-length dress with floral print." Accessories include a "golden ring, bracelet, watch, and earrings."

Guy Johnson, Dr. Angelou's son, expressed his excitement over the sweet homage to his mom, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest possible civilian honor in the United States. 

Celebs With Their Own Barbie Dolls

"My mother, Dr. Maya Angelou, was a pioneer and an activist with an invincible spirit for justice," Johnson's statement reads. "Through her words and actions, she developed a unique ability to create deep connections with people around the world. She used to say, 'I write from the Black perspective, but I aim for the human heart.'"

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The Inspiring Women line, which launched in 2018, features a slew of important historical figures, including Ella Fitzgerald, Rosa Parks, Frida Kahlo and Amelia Earhart



In a statement, Mattel shared its commitment to diversity in the line. 

"In 2021 and going forward, more than 50% of global role models featured will be Black, Indigenous and women of color," said the company.