In the reality of three young women from Baltimore, opportunities are scarce, violence is at large and dreams turn into nightmares, but still, failure is not an option.
With the help and support system at Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women (BLSYW), these young ladies persevere through their hardships with family, friendship, academics, balancing between priorities — and stepping.
“STEP” is about the senior year of the first founding class of Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, which unfolded multitudinous layers of what it is like for young teens who came from poverty, but do all it takes to succeed and go on to college.
The three use their favorite hobby, stepping, to channel their frustrations by turning their weaknesses into strengths to win first place at an annual step showcase at Bowie State University.
Team founder and coach Blessin Giraldo, Cori Grainger and Tayla Solomon are three seniors of the “Lethal Ladies of BLYSW” and encountered their first annual step showcase award on their exit to high school.
The strong foundational support of their step coach, Coach G, academic counselor, Ms. Dofat, and fellow mothers of their step team has helped the young women realize that nothing worth having comes easy, and even though it seemed at times things worked against them, on and of the camera.
The profound sisterhood these three share is nothing short of inspiring, as viewers will witness their transition from young girls to young women by standing firm for something they believed in —academics and step. They had chosen not to be a victim of their surroundings that included crime, drugs and violence.
The Michigan Chronicle spoke to Blessin Giraldo, Cori Grainger Tayla Solomon. “STEP – the Movie” opened in theaters on Friday, Aug. 4.
City.Life.Style.: Were there any hardships during the filming of this documentary? In spite of your real life struggles with peers, family, society, etc., how do you think you did with balancing all that while being a part of a major production?
Tayla: I think we did a great job with our hardships in the documentary. Whether the cameras were there or not, everything that happened was going to happen, so we didn’t hide anything. There wasn’t anything that wasn’t shown in the documentary…the cries are real, the laughs are real, the struggle is real, and that’s what went down.
Blessin: I think the camera was the least of my problems, especially since I always wanted to be in front of a camera since I was little. Me and Amanda always had a relationship outside of school, and she believed in me throughout everything that I have ever done.
My potential in her eyes was just beyond measure, and you know, balancing out trying to get into college and also being captain of the step team and trying to win a competition that we went to for years and have lost, it was just way bigger than having a camera in my face. So yeah, the cameras weren’t an issue, it was just finding a good balance and being confident in that and looking toward the end goal.
Cori: I think the biggest hardship was living through the struggles that we went through, but even then, that wasn’t something completely new to us, my lights had been out before. I think what we all realize is that everybody goes through things, the person next to you may be struggling even though it may not look like it. Being able to push through and make it to success. It shows how much further we can go if we came this far. We have to pay it forward.
City.Life.Style.: Describe your relationship with each other. Do you think that this project has pulled you guys together or apart?
Cori: I believe that this project has drawn us together as a team. We’ve been together since we were 16, so it’s kind of strange to think about “we’ve known each other all these years.” Just getting to know each other’s stories is what I enjoyed about this process.
City.Life.Style.: Have you learned anything more about yourselves since you’ve made this movie?
Tayla: I’ve learned to be more accepting of other people’s situations, and to talk to people more about what’s going on in their lives because you never know what a person is going through. People go through different things, we all have different struggles, but at the end of the day, we’re all sisters, and we all care about each other, and it shows. It’s more of, “I’ve been through this, and I’ve seen this happen, and I think you can do better.”
City.Life.Style.: Do you enjoy stepping? Why stepping over something else?
Cori: Because of it’s positive, it’s something that we all love doing and we bond together doing it. This is what we use as a vessel to deal with some of the biggest struggles we have in our lives. We use it as a platform to express how we feel about society and anything else.
In the movie we talk about the Black Lives Matter movement. My favorite part about it is that you can make it about whatever you want. So a lot of times, growing up in urban communities, you’re just viewed as another student in a school, you don’t always have a voice. “STEP – The Movie” has been the way that we can not only inform but educate people at the same time
STEP the movie is currently in theatres nationwide.