In STEP with Amanda Lipitz

A former JWI Women to Watch honoree and Broadway producer creates an inspiring documentary about empowering young women and takes home honors at the Sundance Film Festival.  

by Sue Tomchin

When JWI honored Amanda Lipitz with its Women to Watch award in 2008, we knew that big things were in store for the then 28-year-old Broadway producer.  We weren’t surprised to hear that this past Saturday Lipitz received a special jury award for inspirational filmmaking at the Sundance Film Festival.

Her documentary, STEP, follows a group of young women in the senior class at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, an all-girls charter school in inner-city Baltimore, as they try to become the first in their families to attend college. As 11-year-olds, the girls formed a step-dancing team as an extracurricular activity. The film takes up their story during their senior year, as they strive to make their dancing a success against the backdrop of social unrest in their troubled city.

“Being a young woman today isn’t easy,” Lipitz said of the film. “These girls show nothing is impossible when you surround yourself with a group of powerful women.” 

Fox Searchlight announced Saturday that it has acquired the worldwide distribution rights for STEP.

STEP immerses us into the world of a group of young women whom we come to love and admire. Amanda Lipitz shows us their humor, heart, tenacity and joie de vivre through our own laughter and tears,” said Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula, presidents of Fox Searchlight. 

Among Lipitz’s most recent producing credits on Broadway are two 2016 Tony winners—The View from the Bridge (best revival of a play), and The Humans (best play). In addition to her work as a producer, Lipitz has created over 30 documentary films highlighting philanthropic organizations and their impact. 

When JW reporter Susan Josephs spoke to Lipitz in 2008, the producer described how she works to infuse “people with the passion I have for whatever project I’m working on.” 

That passion is unmistakable in STEP