Sunjai Williams has made a name for herself as one of the talented dancers on the hit unscripted television show “Bring It.” However, Williams is now branching out beyond the world of dance. Recently, her likeness served as inspiration for the newly released Sunjai Doll.
Williams says that she is honored to be the face of a doll that will serve as a source of pride and inspiration for young girls. During her time on “Bring It,” Williams never gave up, even when she faced considerable pressure during her attempts to make the Dancing Doll 4 Life team.
“I feel like I’m such an inspirational person. I’ve been told by so many parents that I’m an inspiration to their children and even an inspiration to them,” Williams said.
The creator of the doll, Stacey McBride-Irby, was approached with the idea of the Sunjai Doll by Williams’ manager, Denise Jordan Walker.
“I already knew who Sunjai was. My daughter, Sierra, and I watch ‘Bring It’ all the time,” McBride-Irby said. “Throughout my history of doll designing, I always wanted to create dolls that reflect who we are in a positive light. Sunjai was perfect. She’s a role model to these young girls, and I was honored to create a doll of her.”
McBride-Irby has created dolls for the Barbie and Disney Princess lines. She has also developed the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Centennial Barbie and the “So in Style” African-American Barbie.
The celebrated doll designer got into the business through her love of playing with dolls as a young girl. As time went on, she developed a passion for fashion design.
“When I was around 13 years old, I started going to the library to do research on fashion design,” Mcbride-Irby said.
For 15 years, McBride-Irby served as a designer at Mattel, which allowed her to turn her passion into a career. Her first successful doll was the Star Splash Barbie.
“Fashion was a bit cutthroat for me, and I wasn’t as aggressive as I should have been,” McBride-Irby said.
“I went back to school (and took) a fashion class, and the instructor knew I was looking for a job. She’s the one that told me to try Mattel,” McBride-Irby continued.
“When I wanted to go into fashion design, my dad gave me a newspaper article of an African-American designer at Mattel. She was looking for an assistant. I interviewed with her and got the job. So, I know that God opens doors when the timing is right.”
After working as a designer at Mattel for several years, McBride-Irby decided to launch her business, IAMuDolls, with the Sunjai Doll.
“IAMuDolls is a positive reflection of our girls. Not necessarily girls of color, but I want to motivate girls and young women to believe in themselves and know that they are uniquely beautiful,” McBride-Irby said.
Throughout her years of working in the doll business, McBride-Irby has seen significant growth of dolls of color in the market.
“The representation is still not there yet, but it is progressing,” McBride-Irby said.
The Sunjai Doll symbolizes the designer’s steps into creating more positive dolls and improving the representation of dolls of color in the market.
Williams is excited about the impact she feels her doll will have on young girls and women.
The Sunjai Doll took two years to complete, but according to McBride-Irby, the process should have only taken half that time.
“Designing the doll is fine. The challenge is the production and communication associated with getting the doll made,” she said.
In the future, McBride-Irby hopes to create additional dolls that continue to push positive representation of women such as Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey.
The Sunjai Doll can be purchased at Amazon.com.