American Girl announces first South Asian ‘Girl of the Year’

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Written by Leah Asmelash, CNN

American Girl’s latest “Girl of the Year” is a spunky Broadway-loving dancer and singer — and also the line’s first-ever South Asian main character.

Kavika Sharma, Kavi for short, was unveiled Thursday as American Girl’s 2023 “Girl of the Year.” Unlike other American Girl dolls, “Girl of the Year” dolls are based on modern characters with contemporary stories, rather than those based in American history.

Kavi lives in Metuchen, New Jersey, according to American Girl. The town is a train ride away from New York City, home to all her favorite Broadway shows, and is also in a part of New Jersey with a significant Asian population. (Nearby Edison is notably home to many Indian Americans.) Her family practices Hinduism — depicted in the doll’s accompanying book, written by Varsha Bajaj, the New York Times bestselling author of multiple middle grade and children’s novels.

“I think South Asian girls and women of all ages will feel seen, included, and represented,” said Bajaj in a statement. “Little girls will embrace her with joy, while older women may see her as a gift to their younger selves. I hope that all kids will embrace Kavi as a friend and love her story.”

Kavi Sharma lives in Metuchen, New Jersey, and her family practices Hinduism.

Kavi Sharma lives in Metuchen, New Jersey, and her family practices Hinduism. Credit: American Girl

Though Kavi is the first South Asian “Girl of the Year,” she is not American Girl’s first South Asian character. In 2009, Sonali Matthews, who was at least part South Asian, was introduced as a companion character to that year’s “Girl of the Year,” Chrissa Maxwell.
Since “Girl of the Year” launched in 2001, there have been three other dolls of Asian descent: Jess McConnell, who was half-Japanese, in 2006; Kanani Akina, who was part Japanese-Hawaiian, in 2011; and last year’s Corinne Tan, the first Chinese American “Girl of the Year.”

In a nod to its newest character, American Girl said it will donate $25,000 to fund full and partial scholarships for kids, ages 7 to 14, participating in Camp Broadway’s summer programs in New York.

The Kavi Sharma doll, plus the book, retails for $115, with other accessories also available for purchase.

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