Barbie’s Wisconsin connections run deep. Not only is the doll herself from the state but Milwaukee’s own singer-songwriter Ava Max is a new addition to the Barbie Cinematic Universe.
Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” is the first live-action movie depicting the legendary doll. The star-studded movie soundtrack includes Max alongside artists such as Lizzo, Dua Lipa, Nicki Minaj, Charli XCX and Billie Eilish. Max’s song is titled “Choose Your Fighter.” The album, along with the movie, releases nationally July 21.
On the pink carpet at the “Barbie” premiere in Los Angeles last weekend, Max learned of Barbie’s Wisconsin heritage.
“I’m from Wisconsin!” Max exclaimed upon hearing of Barbie’s hometown from a reporter. “I’m from Milwaukee.”
Max grew up in Milwaukee before moving to Virginia at age 3. Her parents immigrated to Wisconsin from Albania, according to an interview with the Journal Sentinel.
Max first came on to the scene with the release of breakthrough single “Sweet But Psycho,” topping the charts in 2018 and 2019. She signed with Atlantic Records in 2016.
In 2021, Max even released a song titled “Not Your Barbie Girl.”
Earlier this month, Max performed at Summerfest’s BMO Harris Pavilion, offering up a glittery and personality-driven performance in her home state. Her second album “Diamonds & Dancefloors” was released earlier this year.
“Max brought enough personality to suggest she could be a long-haul pop princess a la Robyn or Kylie Minogue,” Jon M. Gilbertson wrote for the Journal Sentinel about Max’s Summerfest set. “She could be a real diamond.”
Barbie’s Wisconsin connections
While Max hails from the real city of Milwaukee, Barbie’s Wisconsin origins are fictional.
According to Mattel lore, Barbie was born and raised in the fictional Willows, Wisconsin. Despite conflicting details given the doll’s vast 64-year-history, if one thing’s for certain, it’s that Barbie is a Wisconsin girl through and through. In 2015, the toy company even released an entire collection of dolls focused on the fictional Wisconsin town.
Moreover, Midge Hadley, Barbie’s hometown best friend, makes an appearance in Gerwig’s upcoming film. She’s played by Emerald Fennell.
Although Gerwig’s “Barbie” has been lauded by critics and super-fans alike, it has been met with criticism from some Wisconsinites. Specifically, lawmakers.
Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher took aim at the movie’s depiction of disputed territorial claims in China on a cartoon map. He said the filmmakers were attempting to appease China in an effort to avoid censorship in the country.
The movie studio said the map in Barbie Land wasn’t commenting on geopolitical affairs.
Regardless, across the state, doll fanatics are eager for the movie’s and soundtrack’s release. Milwaukee’s Avalon Atmospheric Theater will even host a “Malibu Dream Lounge” pop-up July 20-22.