America Ferrera's character poster for the Barbie movie

Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling Are Fab in ‘Barbie’—But Let’s Talk About America Ferrera

As Barbie finally makes its way into cinemas, all eyes are on Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. They are, after all, the faces of this out-of-the-box toy-inspired movie, and they deserve all the praise they receive for their performances and more. Robbie was born to play the role of Stereotypical Barbie and infuses the story with an incredible amount of emotion and warmth, while Gosling brings his somehow still underrated comedic talent to the table, reminding us all that it’s time for a rewatch of The Nice Guys and Crazy, Stupid, Love.

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Everyone’s also understandably excited to see all the different Barbies—oh, and Kens—navigate their way through life in Barbieland. There’s a lot of fun to be had in that dreamy pink world and plenty of life lessons to be learned too. But none of those lessons would have been possible without Gloria, America Ferrera’s surprising Barbie character.

**Spoilers ahead for the Barbie movie!**

Gloria is one of the outnumbered humans in the movie—she’s a receptionist at Mattel, a mother to tween daughter Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt), and a budding artist who likes to draw new and slightly alarming concepts for Barbie dolls. Gloria’s the one who truly loves Barbie and all her iconic outfits, the character that the baby boomer, Gen X, and millennial women who grew up with Barbie can relate to the most. She’s the catalyst for societal change in Barbieland, the reason Stereotypical Barbie gets to follow her dreams, and even partly the reason the Kens discover they deserve to have their own identities outside of their relationships with Barbie, too. Stereotypical Barbie is one-half of the movie’s emotional heart. Gloria is the other.

I wholeheartedly believe Gloria’s all-important role wouldn’t have made such an impact were it not for America Ferrera’s genuine enthusiasm, joy, and sincerity. Her smile is as infectious as ever, as she sheds the dryness of her day-to-day life, embraces her passion for Barbie, and shows her daughter there’s more to her than meets the eye. In every role I’ve ever seen Ferrera in—be it as Carmen in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, as Betty Suarez in Ugly Betty, or as Amy Sosa in Superstore—she stands out from the crowd.

It’s no different in Barbie, as Ferrera and Robbie command the screen equally whenever they share a scene. It’s a perfect pairing. Gloria’s darkness forces Barbie’s doubts to the surface, while Barbie’s optimism begins to bleed into Gloria’s decision-making. Robbie and Ferrera play off each other beautifully and with ease.

Understandably, the creatives behind the Barbie movie didn’t want to market Ferrera’s character too heavily—why spoil the narratively minor but emotionally major twist in the film early on? I do hope, however, that as more and more viewers head to the cinema to watch Barbie over the next few days (and hopefully weeks), they all, as I did, end up appreciating America Ferrera’s performance just as much as Margot Robbie’s and Ryan Gosling’s.

(featured image: Warner Bros.)


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El Kuiper
El (she/her) is The Mary Sue's U.K. editor and has been working as a freelance entertainment journalist for over two years, ever since she completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing. El's primary focus is television and movie coverage for The Mary Sue, including British TV (she's seen every episode of Midsomer Murders ever made) and franchises like Marvel and Pokémon. As much as she enjoys analyzing other people's stories, her biggest dream is to one day publish an original fantasy novel of her own.