The new Fox Searchlight documentary “Step” is the story of three amazing young women defying the odds that are stacked against them. Seniors at Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women in the inner city of Baltimore, Blessin, Cori and Tayla fight the odds, including their individual fears of not graduating and having to paying for college, all during the protests over the killing of Freddie Gray. But one thing allows them to escape — The Lethal Ladies step team led by Blessin. But even the step team comes with high stakes. The Lethal Ladies of BLSYW’s previous season was full of losses that they hoped to erase for their senior year. As a part of BLSYW’s inaugural class, there’s a lot of pressure to lead the school with the first graduation.
Blessin, the step team’s captain and founder shows her bright personality through her beautiful dance steps. Although she leads the team with poise, she is struggling to get her GPA high enough to graduate high school and enter college. At one point during the film, Blessin loses all hope but regains it after finding out about a one-year bridge program to help her transition from on high school to college.
Cori is the shy teammate out of practice but the step team brings out her energy. Cori has spent her high school career earning straight A’s and hopes that her perfect grades will earn her a full scholarship to John Hopkins University.
Tayla strives to get the opportunities that her mother, Maisha, never had. Maisha steals the show in every scene she appears in, serving as the team mom treating all of the Lethal Ladies like her own daughters. She encourages them all to always have energy and do their best.
At the beginning of the year, the Lethal Ladies of the BLSYW Step Team faces huge pressure. With newly hired “Coach G” (Gari McIntyre) their goal is to win the Step Team championship. They go through a lot of challenges academically and like all teams, sometimes they argue with each other. Still, they power through and in their senior year they remind us all that no matter the obstacle, it is never too late.
As I was watching this film, I was surprised how entertaining “Step” was. There are very few documentaries I find entertaining. The film works like a fictional story but with real-life insights. But this doc is like no other when it comes to inspiring people. “Step” is distinguished by the characters. Blessin, Cori, and Tayla represent what every senior in every high school in America goes through. Their stories of struggle to triumph also distinguishes the film from just educating me to inspiring me to never give up. Although not every senior goes through the exact same struggles, we all can relate to the stress of graduation and college. It was a reminder of the anxiety of my senior year and the triumph of graduating after all of the struggles. From the very beginning, the film drew me into their personal lives, showing me the joyous times and the hard times. For once, these characters are real, which is something rare. Sometimes in films, the captain is perfect at everything and the introvert is weak. But “Step” shows us that we all have weaknesses and strengths. I left the theater feeling I could change the world.
This story is not only important but necessary for everyone to see. “Step” breaks the negative stereotypes of inner city kids and shines a light on them. Every young person should see this film because “Step” shows us that young people can achieve their goals.
Over the summer, the cast of “Step” dropped by VOX to discuss the documentary. Watch the video here.
Kennedy, 18, is a 2017 graduate of the Martha Stilwell School of Arts and will be a freshman at Agnes Scott College this fall.