Makena Williams, Evette Peeters, and Maritza Ochoa have overlapping stories that are designed to reflect important social issues, including racial equality, environmentalism, and immigration, and the value of working together to create a better world. The trio becomes friends as shared scenes are told from multiple perspectives that American Girl says “showcase each girl’s point of view and emphasize the importance of inclusion, fairness, and respect.”
The new line of 18-inch dolls, accessories, and books launches today alongside a fashion show in New York City and a charitable component. American Girl product designers developed the new dolls after consulting with authors and advisers to provide feedback on design elements, such as face shape, hair type, and skin tone. At the centerpiece of the collection is the World by Us Community Center, a 360-degree playset that is inspired by the place where the girls meet in their stories.
“American Girl was built on diverse and inclusive storytelling — narratives that have empowered an entire generation of girls to stand up for what they believe in with courage, resilience, and kindness,” says Jamie Cygielman, general manager of American Girl. “We created the new World by Us line to accelerate our progress in diversifying our characters and stories to better reflect what it means to be an American girl today. Through Makena, Evette, and Maritza — as well as future characters to come, — we hope our fans learn that they’re never too young to contribute to the larger conversation and help make the world a more inclusive, unified place.”
The World by Us Books and Authors:
- Angela Cervantes is the author of Maritza: Lead with Your Heart. Maritza is a caring, take-action kind of girl who loves celebrating her Latina heritage — from the delicious food to her community’s music-filled festivals. A leader on and off the soccer field, she finds her passion in advocating for others, especially helping to keep immigrant families together.
- Denise Lewis Patrick is the author of Makena: See Me, Hear Me, Know Me. Makena loves art and her close-knit family, with ties tracing back to Kenya, but her real passion is fashion, which she uses to express her views. After experiencing a racist incident in her own front yard, Makena uses her style to speak up about injustice.
- Sharon Dennis Wyeth is the author of Evette: The River and Me. Evette loves vintage clothes, upcycling, and protecting nature, including the Anacostia River near her home. When she discovers racism in her own biracial family, she works hard to heal her world — family, friends, river, and all.
Cultural Advisers on the World by Us line:
- Katrina Lashley: program coordinator at Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum and leader in the Women’s Environmental Leadership Initiative
- Yasmine Mabene: California State Director of March for Our Lives, social media coordinator of Earth Uprising, and student at Stanford University
- M. Lucero Ortiz: Deputy Director for Kids in Need of Defense, Mexico, and human rights attorney who represented migrant families and unaccompanied children before the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice
- Dr. Deborah Rivas-Drake: professor of psychology and education at the University of Michigan, who studies how teens navigate issues of race, ethnicity, racism, and xenophobia
- Deanna Singh: founder of Flying Elephant, a consulting firm that helps women and people of color become social entrepreneurs, and author of four children’s books about racism, including American Girl’s new Smart Girl’s Guide: Race & Inclusion
- Naomi Wadler: teen activist focused on racial justice. At age 11 she was the youngest speaker at the 2018 March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C.
Today’s fashion show at American Girl Place in New York City was created in partnership with Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR) and features reimagined girl and doll designs by Carly Cushine for American Girl’s original historical characters: Felicity, Josefina, Kirsten, Addy, Samantha, and Molly. HFR designers Nichole Lynel, Samantha Black, and Kristian Lorén provided additional looks for the World by Us trio.
- American Girl is supporting HFR’s nonprofit organization, ICON360, with a $25,000 donation to help raise awareness and funds for the next generation of BIPOC fashion leaders.
- Cushnie’s original doll designs will be auctioned off over the weekend to benefit Girls Who Code.
- World by Us-inspired doll fashions will be available at American Girl stores beginning in March 2022.
- An original World by Us song and dance written and performed by That Girl Lay Lay will be accompanied by a music video that will premiere on YouTube, Sept. 27.
- A new stop-motion doll series featuring World by Us characters will also debut on Sept. 27.
- Janie and Jack is debuting three exclusive World by Us-inspired outfits that will be available at American Girl retail stores in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Dallas beginning tomorrow. The outfits will also be sold via the American Girl and Janie and Jack websites.
- American Girl is donating $60,000 in the World by Us books to Reader to Reader, Kids Need to Read, and Little Free Library Read in Color Initiative.
The World by Us collection is available now at American Girl stores and at americangirl.com.