Trans star Hari Nef shares emotional letter to Greta Gerwig that clinched her role in Barbie
Trans star Hari Nef is joining the cast of Greta Gerwig’s highly anticipated film Barbie, but the path there wasn’t easy.
Taking to social media in the wake of the release of the first official Barbie trailer and character posters, the actress reflected on her journey to joining the film, which is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated releases of the year.
In a heartfelt Instagram post, Nef shared an excerpt from the letter she wrote to Barbie director Greta Gerwig and star Margot Robbie, explaining how she begged them to “fudge the schedule” after realising that a diary conflict would prevent her from joining the film.
Nef begins the letter by acknowledging how the people involved with the film, including Gerwig and Robbie, “played no small role in cultivating my love of sitting in the dark in front of big screens for an hour or two,” before describing how the monumental impact of Barbie in popular culture contributed to her “need” to join the film.
“Identity politics and cinema aren’t my favourite combination, but the name BARBIE looms large over every American woman,” she wrote. “Barbie’s the standard; she’s The Girl; she’s certainly THE doll.”
Nef, who is best known for her breakout role in Amazon Prime’s hit series Transparent, went on to describe how her and “other transgender girlfriends” began calling themselves “the dolls” a few years ago, while acknowledging how the phrase dates back to ballroom culture.
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“Maybe it’s a bid to ratify our femininity, to smile and sneer at the standards we’re held to as women,” she continued. “It’s a joke, of course. We throw our voices: ‘the do-o-lls!’ But underneath the word ‘doll’ is the shape of a woman who is not quite a woman – recognisable as such, but still a fake. ‘Doll’ is fraught, glamorous, she is, and she isn’t.
“We call ourselves ‘the dolls’ in the face of everything we know we are, never will be, hope to be. We yell the word because the word matters. And no doll matters more than Barbie.”
Nef’s letter, which accompanied a first look at her “doctor” Barbie in the film, drew a raft of heartwarming comments from stars of the entertainment world.
Barbie co-star and new Doctor Who Ncuti Gatwa wrote: “Thee dawl”, while Dua Lipa, who joins the cast as a mermaid Barbie, added: “The Barbie”.
Alexandra Shipp wrote: “I love this letter and you, brilliant Dr Barbie.”
The official Mattel Barbie account simply wrote: “It’ll be so worth the wait”.
The new trailer shows Robbie and Gosling’s Barbie and Ken living in Barbieworld with all the other Kens and Barbies.
But when something goes wrong, the pair are flung into their own adventure in the human world, encountering Will Ferrell, Sex Education‘s Connor Swindells and Jamie Demetriou, among others.
There has been major excitement at Nef’s casting, with fans sharing their joy at the groundbreaking trans representation.
One fan wrote: “The Barbie movie is one of the most important movies of my life. As a trans woman, growing up I was embarrassed to own or play with dolls of any kind.
“It was something I lost as a child and never found. To see a trans actress in Hari Nef play a role in this movie means so much.”
Barbie is due to open in the UK on 21 July.
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