Chinese American Icon Anna May Wong Honoured With Her Own Barbie

The actor and fashion icon is a significant figure in Asian American history.

Mattel has revealed a new Anna May Wong doll(opens in a new tab) is joining its Barbie Inspiring Women series, just in time for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Designed by Mattel’s Barbie Signature Lead Designer Carlyle Nuera(opens in a new tab), the new Anna May Wong doll uses a Madam Lavinia(opens in a new tab) face mould and has an articulated body. She comes wearing a red ’30s-style bias-cut evening gown with a golden dragon design, as well as a dramatic sheer shawl which trails to her gold heels.

Credit: Mattel

“As the first Asian American actor to lead a U.S. television show, whose perseverance broke down barriers for her gender and AAPI community in film and TV, Anna May Wong is the perfect fit for our Barbie Inspiring Women Series,” said Mattel’s ​​executive vice president Lisa McKnight.(opens in a new tab)

Mattel worked with the actor’s niece Anna Wong to perfect the doll, which is scheduled to ship Jun. 30. It is currently available for preorder on the Mattel website for $35.

Credit: Mattel

Credit: Mattel

Wong is a significant figure in Asian American history(opens in a new tab), and is considered the first Chinese American female actor in Hollywood. Born in L.A. in 1905, Wong took her first acting role when she was 14 years old. She went on to make over 50 films throughout her career, and became a fashion icon in the 1920s and ’30s. 

She was vocal about issues such as Chinese representation on film, and fought against stereotyping and consistent negative portrayals. Wong also worked to improve relations between China and the U.S, raised money for Chinese refugees after World War II, and advocated for the rights of Chinese Americans. She died of a heart attack in 1961 at 56 years old.

Wong was previously included in the United States Mint’s American Woman Quarters program(opens in a new tab). This series celebrates the achievements of notable American women by putting their likenesses on the reverse of coins, with Wong being the fifth woman honoured. The quarters went into circulation last year, making her the first Asian-American to appear on U.S. coins.

Last week Mattel revealed its first Barbie with Down syndrome as part of its Fashionistas line.

Amanda Yeo is Mashable’s Australian reporter, covering entertainment, culture, tech, science, and social good. This includes everything from video games and K-pop to movies and gadgets.

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