“Step is life,” according to the “Lethal Ladies” of the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women. Now rising college sophomores, three young ladies: Blessin Giraldo, Cori Grainger and Tayla Solomon showcase the trials and tribulations of their personal lives, while also detailing the highs and lows of their senior year in high school. Preparation for a step competition at Bowie State University intersects with the anxiety-filled college application process.
The backdrop of the movie being Baltimore, makes it even more compelling. Viewers experience the film through the perspectives of local teenagers regarding the death of Freddie Gray. The incident took place only months before filming began. Displeasure with the way mainstream media portrayed residents of the city in the aftermath was met with opposition in the film. In one scene, we hear locals discuss helping clean up their neighborhoods which had been ravaged in the days following the April 2015 shooting demise of 25-year-old Gray.
In the documentary, directed by Amanda Lipitz, one of the film’s subjects, Cori Grainger, says they are representative of the different types of girls you might find in any community. “Well there’s a Blessin, Cori [and] Tayla in any urban community, really any type of community, it doesn’t have to be urban … I think that our stories show that anything is really possible.”
Grainger is now heading into her sophomore year at Johns Hopkins University, a highly selective university in Baltimore. She is majoring in Computer Science and International Studies with a minor in Spanish. She says the adjustment to college life was not an easy one but she is pushing forward. “After learning how to study and what kind of student I am, I improved a lot, so my second semester was a lot better than my first and I’m excited to head back in the fall,” said Grainger.
The girls still are visible faces at their alma mater. “We all go back and help out at our high school. We mentor, we tutor, we peer mediate,” said Giraldo.
Giraldo just wrapped up her first year of college at Coppen State University, where she majors in Business Marketing with a double minor in Graphic Design and Communications. Most recently, Blessin took her stepping talents to “So You Think You Can Dance?” on Fox. The episode featuring her audition aired in June.
Tayla Solomon, who attends Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Alabama, was the only one in the trio who ventured miles away from home to start her college career. She is an Urban Planning major with a minor in Political Science. She had her doubts about her organizational skills heading onto the yard. “The first thing I bought was a planner so I planned everything out, from when I had my exams to when I needed to do laundry, and when I needed to walk out the door [for class],” Solomon added jokingly.
Here is what these young women hope viewers will take away from their exceedingly emotional journey through senior year until their momentous and equally emotional graduation day shown in the film.
Giraldo: “Where you want to be isn’t defined by where you come from. The odds may be telling you that as long as you stay persistent, determined and resilient … you can do anything.”
Grainger: “Don’t ever cut yourself short, you never really know where you can end up if you keep putting your best foot forward.”
Solomon: “Respect everyone and every situation that they go through. Try to do better than what you see before yourself. So if you’re struggling, don’t think of that as something bad; respect the struggle and come up from the struggle.”
You can see these ladies and their journey to success on the big screen. Step: The Movie is in theaters August 4.