Mattel Executive Gives the Inside Scoop on Upcoming ‘Barbie’ Movie

Fans can’t wait for the flick starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling.

Without question, Barbie’s impact on society has been widespread and significant. After all, she played a critical role directing the 2014 SI Swimsuit Legends Photoshoot, and Mattel came out with a special 50th Anniversary SI Swimsuit Barbie. Now, as fans gear up for Margot Robbie’s live-action portrayal of the doll—set to be released in 2023—they’re harnessing the power of pink to make a statement, exude positivity and channel Barbie’s confidence. After all, it’s why the Barbiecore trend is sweeping the scene. But what can we expect from the movie? Why is Barbie—who has been around since 1959— more popular now than ever? And how did the brand overcome its body-image backlash? We chatted with Mattel president and COO Richard Dickson to get the inside scoop on everything going on in Barbie’s world.

Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling on rollerblades film new scenes for 'Barbie' in Venice California. 27 Jun 2022. 

What does Barbie stand for today?

“Barbie has evolved from being just a doll into what is a pop culture icon. And what she represents today is the ultimate form of self-expression, empowerment, inspiration and joy. Barbie has been through an evolution. But where we’re at today is incredibly relevant in terms of her purpose and mission of inspiring the limitless potential of girls. It’s more powerful than ever.”

How has Barbie become a more inclusive and empowering brand?

“The truth is, in 2015, we were at a very low point in the brand’s history. It lost tremendous relevance, and we were in a double-digit decline. We had to look really hard at ourselves and the brand and recognize that she wasn’t a reflection of what girls were seeing in the world. So we introduced the world’s most inclusive collection of dolls. We featured seven different skin tones, 22 eye colors and 24 hair types and styles. It was a really big effort to start to have the brand look the way girls look at the world.”

Product on display at the Barbie Truck Totally Throwback Tour Launch at The Grove on November 01, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. 

And what about her body image?

“Her body was arguably one of the most controversial parts of the brand. And in the history of the brand, we have always had answers to that. But it was more of a monologue. So the brand started a dialogue with our consumers, moms and girls. We introduced new body shapes, which was a big step for the brand. We had curvy, petite, tall, etc., to express the different choices a girl could have when choosing her Barbie today. We also created dolls to show the extraordinary range of recognition of disabilities. We have dolls without hair, with hearing aids, in wheelchairs, with prosthetic legs, and more. If the brand is meant to inspire the limitless potential of girls, then it needs to be all girls.”

Barbie has come a long way. What do you think about her being a whole fashion and design moment right now?

“Barbiecore is phenomenal! It’s not called pink core. It’s called Barbiecore. We couldn’t be happier with the powerful color of pink associated with Barbie. It's synonymous with empowerment and a celebration of self-expression.”

Kamie Crawford's 'Barbiecore' moment at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center on August 28, 2022 in Newark, New Jersey.

Kamie Crawford's 'Barbiecore' moment at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center on August 28, 2022 in Newark, New Jersey.

Now everyone is buzzing about the Barbie movie, too. So why is now the right moment to do the film?

“The idea of doing a Barbie movie is not new. Why didn’t we do a Barbie movie? We never connected the right talent and the right vision at the right time for the brand. Seven years ago, we were probably at the lowest brand equity and volume level. Last year, we were the highest that we’ve ever been in brand equity and brand volume.”

Why was having Greta Gerwig as the director the best choice?

“Greta Gerwig is by far probably one of the most interesting and powerful creatives in Hollywood. Plus, she has an emotional connection to Barbie and believes she can take the brand’s purpose into a narrative and create an extraordinary moment for all of us. Margot Robbie, who is producing and starring in the film, also has an incredible passion for the brand.”

What can we expect from the film?

“Ryan Gosling as Ken will be surprising and fun. It will create a lot of buzz around the Ken character when he’s always viewed as the best accessory. What I can say overall is that Barbie is an open-ended brand. So this particular one will be Greta Gerwig’s inspired story and the story she wants to tell.”

Where does Barbie go from here?

“Evolution makes a brand relevant, but purpose makes a brand immortal, and that’s where Barbie lives.”

Jordi Lippe-McGraw


Jordi Lippe-McGraw is a Contributing Editor for SI Swimsuit covering all things lifestyle from travel and beauty to entertainment and wellness. Over her nearly 15-year-long journalism career, her work has appeared in the New York Times, WSJ Magazine, Forbes, and more. Plus, she’s appeared on TV shows such as Wendy Williams, TODAY, E!, and MSNBC for her expertise. Jordi's personal passion for travel has brought her to over 50 countries on all 7 continents, including Antarctica at 5 months pregnant. She's also an avid penguin and truffle lover.