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Issa Rae reveals giant 'Barbie' dance number was the 'worst day of my life'

President Barbie herself said she didn't have the best time at Barbie's "giant blowout party... with planned choreography and a bespoke song."
/ Source: TODAY

Issa Rae — also known as President Barbie — is revealing that she didn't have the best time filming a certain scene in this summer's blockbuster hit.

Rae told the Hollywood Reporter that filming the "Barbie" party dance scene was "the worst day of my life."

Rae, who sat down with the cast of her TV show "Rap Sh!t" to make their Grammy predictions, told the outlet how she had felt as the cast danced to what would become Dua Lipa's song, "Dance the Night."

"Dancing to it was my worst nightmare. It was the worst day of my life," she told THR. "It was the best day of my life being on that set. It was exciting, and then literally the first day, I had to learn the choreography to shoot the (following) day. And it was terrible."

She explained that the song was still unfinished at the time of filming and director Greta Gerwig had to shoot the scene with the cast dancing to the instrumental version of it.

"Greta (Gerwig) was like, 'Oh, it’s going to be a Dua Lipa song.' But all we had was the instrumental, so I was just like, “What the f--- is this? What am I dancing to?" she joked to THR.

Rae has previously explained that while the rest of the cast had plenty of time to learn the dance, she'd been thrown into the scene at the last minute. In an interview with E! News in July 2023, she said something similar.

“It was terrifying, it was the worst day of my life,” she joked to E! News. “But I’m glad that it worked out."

She added that she'd "cried afterwards."

Photo of Issa Rae in Los Angeles, California.
Raven B. Varona for TODAY

Gerwig told the outlet she'd realized too late that President Barbie "needs a solo" in the scene.

"Because of scheduling, we had been rehearsing the dance for a long time, but I was like, ‘Well, President Barbie needs a solo,’ and (Rae) was like, ‘Okay, when am I going to learn it?’ And I was like, ‘Right now!’” Gerwig told E!. "And she did, she did it great and she’s such a good dancer."

She added that Rae had been "amazing" in the scene, despite her hesitation.

"Honestly I felt enthusiastic and I wanted to have President Barbie have a solo,” Gerwig told the outlet. "That’s it. She crushed it."

Lipa's smash hit, along with three other songs from the film — Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice's "Barbie World," Billie Eilish's “What Was I Made For?" and Ryan Gosling's "I'm Just Ken" — are all Grammy nominated for best song written for visual media. Rihanna's "Lift Me Up," from "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is also nominated.

Several of the other "Barbie" stars, including Margot Robbie have dancing credits to their names. Robbie has been featured dancing in several previous films, including "Once Upon A Time in Hollywood" and "Babylon." Gosling famously starred in the dance-heavy "La La Land," and Simu Liu revealed on TikTok that before he was a Disney star in "Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings," he was in a competitive dance crew.

"Long before i ever used the ten rings, your boy was competing in hip-hop competitions with his college dance crew," he wrote. "Appreciate @Barbie Movie for bringing me back to my roots."

As for her pick for the Grammy win, Rae told The Hollywood Reporter she hopes Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice’s "Barbie World" wins.

"I want “Barbie World” to win because I didn’t have to dance to that," she told THR.