Issa Rae channeled Michelle Obama, Kamala Harris for president role in ’Barbie’

In real life, Issa Rae would absolutely never want to be president. But in Barbie Land, she’d jump at the opportunity to do the job. 

As the entertainment mogul prepared to flex her acting chops as the head honcho in the new Barbie movie, she thought of a few historical Black female figures to help bring her President Barbie character to life. 

“We were thinking about some of the, I guess, presidential adjacent figures, and Michelle Obama was definitely one of them,” she told Teen Vogue.

In thinking of the first Black first lady of the United States, Rae said it informed how she played a president on the big screen.

Kamala Harris, the first Black female vice president, also helped with the role, she said.

Rae did, at some point, think of the German leader Angela Merkel when it came to how a president might present themself and what the younger version of herself thought a leader might be. 

“It was tapping into who six to eight-year-old me thought a female president would look like, and living in that world really informed how I played the president,” she said. 

The first Black barbie doll, Christie, also influenced Rae’s portrayal of President Barbie in the new film. 

Ahead of the movie’s release on July 21, Barbie announced an Issa Rae-inspired president doll.

“Play with my Barbie, don’t play with me,” Rae wrote in her Instagram announcement in June.

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