Retired American Girl doll Ivy Ling is the inspiration behind the doll company’s new Amazon original special “Ivy & Julie 1976: A Happy Balance,” set to be released on Mar. 24.
Set in 1976 San Francisco, the special stars Ling, a 10-year-old Chinese American girl who is torn between her heritage and her desire to be like her all-American friend Julie Albright. Julie’s conflict comes to a head when she must choose between attending her gymnastics tournament and celebrating Chinese New Year with her family. Featuring “American Crime”’s Gwendoline Yeo and “School of Rock”’s Lance Lim, “A Happy Balance” is about the importance of family, individual choice and embracing one’s cultural heritage.
The announcement comes just weeks after American Girl’s announcement of its latest line, which includes the return of an Asian American face in the new character Z Yang, a Korean American.
The original Ivy doll was released in 2007 as part of American Girl’s “Historical Characters” line. Along with three others, Ivy was discontinued in 2014, much to the dismay of many of her fans. The decision to archive the dolls originated from the company’s decision to end the practice of giving companions to the main characters of its “Historical Characters” line; as a sidekick to Julie, Ivy was dropped. Among the discontinued dolls was also another doll of color, Cécile Rey.
Although not the first East Asian “American Girl” doll, Ivy was the first Asian character in the “Historical Characters” line, and her accessories included a replica of a Chinese coin. She also starred in the 2008 book “Good Luck, Ivy,” which shared many of the themes of “Happy Balance” — in both narratives, Ivy is torn between cultural identities but learns to treasure her Chinese heritage.
Watch the trailer below: