Step, directed by Amanda Lipitz and distributed by Fox Searchlight, is one of my favorite documentaries of all time. When I first heard about the film, I was so excited about it because the art of stepping is such an intregal part of African-American culture and history. Then when I saw it, it exceeded every expectation! You will instantly fall in love with all of these lovely young black women. The film follows Blessin Giraldo, Cori Grainger and Tayla Solomon through their senior year at Baltimore’s Leadership School for Young Women. As they navigate the college admissions race while participating in the school’s step team, we are given a glimpse of African-American life devoid of stereotype or negativity.
Step is actually a mashup of two wonderfully uplifting films into one. On the one hand, it is a film about the personal struggles and triumphs that three talented black teen girls and their middle class families face. On the other, it is a movie about a step team trying to win its first championship. I cried, laughed then cheered and cried with joy again! You will, too.
On Thursday, August 3rd, the night before “Step” hit theaters, The Film Society of Lincoln Center held a wonderful talk with the cast and one of the producers. I love them so much I was front and center! It was a very small crowd since most people had not yet seen the film, so I was so blessed to meet and chat with them. I love these gals and am so looking forward to watching the wonderful things I know they are going to do in Life. I asked them two questions: what they would say to other youth and what they are majoring in. Here are their answers, which were even words of wisdom for me!
Blessin -“I just want to tell you that you are not alone. That’s one thing we all have in common is some type of diversity and obstacles. And it doesn’t matter bout where you come from it bout matters where you are going and where you finish. Your environment doesn’t define who you are as a person. Set a goal. Be realistic and each day your progress will increase. Success is something you have to continue to work for every day. Stay confident. Stay resilient and stay one track minded. Find something you are really passionate about. When you find something you are passionate about you are not going to be able to sleep without thinking about it. Once you find that something that you love something that you whether is is education, whether it is being a doctor,or a teacher, a stepper, a dancer whatever it is – as long as you love it the possibilities are endless.”
Blessin’s major: Business Marketing with a double minor in Graphic Design and Communications
Cori – “Really focus in and figure out what it is you want for yourself. Don’t compare yourself to other people. There is always going to be someone doing quote unquote better than you or worse than you or the same as you. The people that are doing better you should not look at them with the eyes of envy, you should look up to them and see how you can get to where they are. Use your resources. And the people people below you, you should pull them up the same way the people above you pulled you up. And the person beside you, you are on the journey together. So you are never really alone. Everyone goes through different struggles. The most important thing is that you get there.”
Cori’s major: Computer science and International Studies with a minor in Spanish
Tayla – “Do not let your circumstances define you and any problems that you face you will not be facing them alone. So you can get through it. Just look within yourself and make sure you have people behind you that support you. Because none of us would be where we are today if we did not have support system and people to motivate us.”
Tayla’s major: Urban Planning with a minor in Political Science
Cast: Blessin Giraldo, Cori Grainger, Tayla Solomon and their families, Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women Step Team
Director: Amanda Lipitz
Production Co: Vulcan Productions, Scott Rudin Productions
Distributors: Fox Searchlight