STEP! An art form, mode of expression, means of commanding one’s presence, and so much more for African American girls and women, has finally come to be represented on the silver screen. Step is a documentary representing the triumphs, trials, and tribulations of 3 college bound African American women in Baltimore, MD amidst the untimely death of Freddie Gray along with the controversy regarding police brutality and the value of Black lives. As these 3 young women navigate the tumultuous terrain of young adult life, step serves as a therapeutic modality and much more. Step coach Gari, affectionately known as Coach G illuminates the power and importance of empowering African American girls and the serendipitous nature of how she became involved in the Step documentary.
Gari, a lifelong mentor and public service advocate hails from Baltimore, MD. She became involved in Step after being referred to a coaching vacancy by her soror of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and subsequently landing the position. While Gari became involved amidst filming of the documentary, she explained that it was “divine interaction” the moment she met the young women. As she elaborated on her involvement in the film Coach G stated “The stepping piece was something that kind of fell into my lap…the thing that I’m most passionate about is definitely mentoring young ladies”. As a native of Baltimore and a graduate of Coppin State University, (an HBCU in Baltimore City), Gari’s scope of influence upon the young college bound steppers was significant. When asked about the state of Baltimore at the time of Freddie Gray’s death and the filming of Step Gari explained that “…I wanted these young girls to realize this could’ve been them…It was a point for me to show these young ladies that this is great, what you’re doing at school but in the real world there are people who look like you and don’t look like you who don’t care about your life”. While there is a significant political theme within the film, the beauty in Step the documentary is the way in which tragedy, doubt, and unlikely circumstance are transformed into triumph as narrated through the art form of step; as Coach G stated the young ladies “…could use step as their voice”.
When asked about life and intentions after her film debut in Step Coach Gari expressed a continued interest in impacting young women, she stated
“I just really am passionate about changing the image of what black girls have to look up to or all girls for that matter- black, yellow, brown, white…”. Step, the art form and the movie have allowed both Gari and the film’s central characters to act as change agents and influencers for female expression and positivity everywhere. Be sure to check out Step the movie in theaters throughout the country.