Few movies move me. Few movies snatch on my heart’strings, inspiring me, wrecking me emotionally and mentally. Fox Searchlight’s STEP is more than a documentary. It’s a movement.
From the eyes of the producer and director Amanda Lipitz, STEP, winner of the Special Jury Award, U.S. Documentary at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, is the gritty- yet extremely poised and moving, is the true-life story of a girls’ high-school step team set against the background of the heart of Baltimore.
These young women learn to laugh, love and thrive – on and off the stage – even when the world seems to work against them. Empowered by their teachers, teammates, counselors, coaches and families, they chase their ultimate dreams: to win a step championship and to be accepted into college.
This all-female school, founded in 2009, is reshaping the futures of its students’ lives by making it their goal to have every member of their senior class accepted to and graduate from college, many of whom will be the first in their family to do so. Deeply insightful and emotionally inspiring, STEP embodies the true meaning of sisterhood through a story of courageous young women worth cheering for.
I waited until after the credits rolled. I sat in the press screening seat a bit longer, after everyone had left. Galvanized, I started thinking about my life and how I saw a piece of myself in the ladies highlighted in the documentary.
Blessin Giraldo, Cori Grainger, & Tayla Solomon, members of the step team, are all three polarizing different, but extremely special, as I related to each one. Their stories, sweetly intertwined in the overall story of social issues, personal struggles and triumphs alike, every viewer can take a nugget of wisdom from STEP.
Here are 3 things I learned from STEP:
The Importance of a Support System
Life is not meant to be lived alone. The camaraderie, friendship and love between the step team, their dedicated coach Gari McIntyre and Paula Dofat, the school’s passionate Director of College Counseling, was incredibly strong, and became apart of the film’s driving force.
Your circle of family and friends is vital to your success- both professionally and personally. Your circle also provides accountability, as shown in the film, who pushes you beyond your comfort zone, stretching you into a realm of endless possibility. For the step team, that was attending college.
The Journey IS the Destination
It’s not all about the destination, for the journey is the destination. Everything you experience along the way to that goal, that opportunity to that next season, actually is the destination- even the disappointments and the closed doors, are actually apart of the divine plan.
We’re always in a rush to get to what’s next, but in reality, there’s so much joy and lessons to be learned in the process itself. That’s what STEP taught me; the ladies of the step team balanced the responsibilities of their team, while maintaining good grades and setting off to college. Along the way, the ladies faced difficulties in their family and school studies, but triumphed over them all, determined to break their family generational cycles.
It’s Not How You Start, But How You Finish
Delays are not denial. In STEP, we see the back story to the Cori, Tayla and Blessin; their home life, parents and struggles in the home. We see their relationships with their parents, disappointments and financial battles in Baltimore during the social unrest stemming from the Freddie Gray case, in a system and society plagued with challenges.
STEP showcased their journey’s and how they made into higher education, by any means necessary, inspiring me that it’s how you start, but how you finish. Viewers get a front row seat into how the ladies travailed over everything that could hindered them.
STEP opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, August 4.