American Girl has introduced its 2023 Girl of the Year: Kavi Sharma, the first South Asian doll to get the honor.
According to the brand's announcement, Kavi (pronounced KUH-vee and short for Kavika) is an Indian American girl who loves performing, whether it's learning the latest dance moves or singing show tunes. An 11-year-old theater fan, she lives with her Hindu family in New Jersey — just a train ride away from Broadway, where she plans to see her first show, Wicked, on her upcoming 12th birthday. All the while, she's juggling her passions and her offstage responsibilities, including schoolwork, family and friendships.
Kavi's adventures will be shared in both an illustrated paperback journal that comes with the doll and a hardcover novel, It’s Showtime, Kavi, debuting in March 2023. Written by Varsha Bajaj, the New York Times bestselling author behind Thirst and Count Me In, her story showcases elements of Indian culture, including dance, yoga, food and celebrations like Holi and Diwali. The American Girl team also consulted with a group of advisers to ensure both accuracy and authenticity in honoring the Indian and Hindu heritage. In a press statement, American Girl general manager Jamie Cygielman shared that "Kavi’s culturally relevant and aspirational stories help inspire kids to shine bright in their own way and be proud of who they are.”
“Helping to bring American Girl’s first South Asian Girl of the Year character to life was a privilege I didn’t take lightly,” Bajaj tells Yahoo Life of writing the Kavi story. “This was a chance to invite readers into my world, and I took immense delight in sharing Kavi’s stories with fans, including her love of performing and all the ways her family honors their Indian heritage. I hope that Kavi’s story can be both a mirror, allowing girls to see themselves, and a welcoming window for girls who might be unfamiliar with Kavi’s world.”
Kavi is a traditional American Girl doll standing at 18 inches, and features layered dark-brown hair that is styled in a half ponytail. Along with a playfully sporty ensemble that includes a cropped mesh top, silver joggers and pink tennis shoes, she comes with a faux-fur bucket hat, quilted purse, charm and journal as accessories. Additional accessory add-ons include a plush version of her lovable dog, Scamper, a playable mini keyboard, a backstage set complete with a vanity with working lights. And, in keeping with her love of the stage, the doll can also be dressed up in a colorful Bollywood dance costume.
In conjunction with the release, American Girl is supporting Kavi’s love of theater with a $25,000 donation to the Broadway Education Alliance’s Camp Broadway. The cultural enrichment program works toward making theater arts accessible to all children by providing aid in both full and partial scholarships to kids, aged 7 to 14, participating in the camp’s 2023 summer programs in New York City.
Kavi’s launch will include in-store events and Kavi-inspired videos on both American Girl’s popular YouTube and YouTube Kids channels, including a six-episode Kavi animated series and a music video. Other Kavi-inspired digital and social content is expected throughout the new year. A free virtual museum will also be available to explore her room and play games.
The Kavi collection will be available from Dec. 29 on AmericanGirl.com and at retail locations beginning Jan. 1.
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