If you haven’t heard about Step, the Sundance award-winning documentary that follows a group of talented, low-income seniors from Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women (BLSYW), well, then you haven't been watching TV or checking social media. No, seriously, the Lethal Ladies have been everywhere, including Good Morning America promoting the film by director Amanda Liptiz. But don’t get it twisted, Step is about more than just stepping.
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If you ask Blessin’ Giraldo, star of the film and Lethal Ladies founder and captain, it's about sisterhood, mentorship, social unrest in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death (the Black man who died while in Baltimore police custody in 2015), fierce competition and dreams of being the first in their familia to attend college.
We caught up with Step’s Afro-Latina star Giraldo (now a sophmore at the University of Baltimore) to learn more the Lethal Ladies of BLSYW, a charter school for middle and high school girls.
Step opened nationwide on August 4.
1. She taught herself how to step via the Internet.@BlessinGiraldo/Instagram
“The first time I saw stepping was at Morgan State University, an HBCU in Baltimore. I needed to figure out why I don’t know about [stepping]. The sororities and fraternities looked so passionate and empowered and that excitement leapt off the stage toward me. I needed to learn about it, so I went home and looked on YouTube and taught myself how to step.”
2. Blessin’ started the Lethal Ladies step team at Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women at 11 years old.@BlessinGiraldo/Instagram
3. The name Lethal Ladies isn’t just about step—it’s about womanhood.@BlessinGiraldo/Instagram
4. Blessin’ is a loving, but strict step captain.@BlessinGiraldo/Instagram
“I’m strict as far as knowing the principles and what we stand for because we are a symbol in our community. People have this perception that Baltimore is a dangerous place and that we’re ignorant and we have no goals and morals. It’s my responsibility to make sure every girl knows what she was signing up for: sisterhood, integrity, community service, and going to college. I want them to know that we serve a bigger purpose.”
5. She’s twice as amazing because she’s Afro-Latina.@BlessinGiraldo/Instagram
“My dad is from Peru and my mother is African-American. Growing up, a lot of people didn’t understand that me and my sisters are Afro-Latina. I’m bi-racial but I’m not bilingual—but I am I’m working on learning Spanish. Sometimes, the Latina community doesn’t want to accept you and sometimes the African-American community doesn’t want to accept you. As a kid, it was like, where do I fit in? It was up to me and my sisters to educate ourselves about what was going on in both communities and learn about the culture on both sides. I came out twice as confident and twice as amazing because I have that special sauce on both sides."