Girls Empowerment Org Step Up to Honor Claudia Eller, Zoe Saldana, Tamia Walker

Step Up will honor Zoe Saldana, graduating Step Up senior Tamia Walker and Variety’s Claudia Eller at the Inspiration Awards on May 30 at the Beverly Hilton. 

The nonprofit org, founded in 1988, runs after-school and weekend programs for high school girls in under-resourced communities in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, encouraging them to maintain their focus on planning for college and careers. It’s a mission supported by bizzers including Pixar producer Darla Anderson and thesp Julie Bowen.

Anderson, who got involved after attending a dinner with Step Up students at Willow Bay’s house, says she, too, had a tough childhood, and credits female mentors, teachers and after-school programs with helping her overcome her struggles.

“I’ve definitely been helped along the way,” Anderson says, “so it just feels like the right thing to do to give back, especially if that’s a journey that you’ve traveled yourself.”

Anderson recently met with a group of Step Up girls touring local colleges, and says she emphasized the importance of education and perseverance. “I just tell people to follow their dreams,” she explains.

“I don’t take it lightly when I know there are young girls watching what I do,” Saldana says. “It’s something that always makes me think about what I’m going to do in my life moving forward.”

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