There’s a large clock on the homepage of “Just One Step for Democracy” that is counting down the days, hours, minutes and even seconds to the presidential election.
It’s front and center by design, as the coming fall is on many minds this long, hot summer.
The general election is Nov. 3 — the date when American voters will choose to keep the incumbent or elect a new president.
“One Step” organizers aren’t shy about which direction they hope it goes. Their desire is that Donald Trump is a one-term president.
It’s why “One Step” founders Arnetia Walker and Stephen Nachamie have enlisted friends and colleagues from Broadway and Hollywood to inject energy into voting efforts.
Even with recent positive polling numbers for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, they say nothing is being taken for granted after the 2016 election.
The two friends and colleagues had been looking for an outreach project to collaborate on after Trump won an Electoral College victory.
Nothing immediately came together until the pandemic hit, and they both watched Former President Barack Obama deliver an online national commencement address for high school students called “Graduate Together” on May 16.
In a call to action, Obama asked students to consider what they would do in their lives for the world and for democracy.
“The day after, Arnetia called me and said she was inspired,” Nachamie said. “We talked about what we could create online to get people to vote. It evolved from there.”
Since then, the two have been tapping into their considerable networks of artist and producer friends that they’ve worked with over the years.
They brought together a collective of artists to create short-form multimedia content. The content focuses on important election information and issues through spoken word, music, song and dance.
The name was inspired by the song “Just One Step” by Henry Krieger, the musical composer of Dreamgirls.
“We wanted to educate, engage and inspire people — to find a way to inspire through artists of all kinds of different and diverse backgrounds [and] different family makeups, to say: ‘We have to vote now more than ever,’” Nachamie said.
It launched on July 4. New video content is released every Monday and Wednesday on the website and through social media platforms.
‘One simple act’
Walker, who finds new talent and oversees “One Step,” was just 16 when she was cast in her Broadway debut — “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window.” She’d go on to appear in original Broadway runs of “The Wiz” and “Dreamgirls.”
Walker has many more stage, television and film credits to her name. She’s appeared on “Dynasty,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Touched by an Angel,” “NYPD Blue,” “College Road Trip” and “For Love of the Game.”
Nachamie, who is also the artistic director for “One Step,” is an award-winning stage and film director on Broadway, in New York City and regionally and internationally.
His credits include “Torch Song Trilogy,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “A Chorus Line,” “Camelot,” “Dreamgirls” and many more.
A visit to the website will take you to two main sections: “Our Voices” (featuring new works by Broadway and Hollywood creators) and “Our Democracy” (featuring artists and activists presenting urgent community and election issues).
Nachamie describes the video content as a little bit “Schoolhouse Rock!” style — a creative and accessible way to remind people of how government works, how they are represented and what steps they can take to participate.
“The point is if you don’t vote you’re silencing your voice,” he said.
Nachamie said topics range from racial issues to challenges faced by the LGBT community.
“There are queer and trans issues that may not be getting media attention — issues that might affect what particular candidate to vote for,” Nachamie, who is gay, said.
“One Step” expects to increase its content as Nov. 3 closes in.
The site also provides an extensive resource list, with links and information about voter registration, voting deadlines and how to vote by mail.
The group has also launched a “Pledge to Vote” campaign that has attracted celebrities like Chita Rivera, Greg Louganis and Brenda Braxton among many others.
Nachamie said during the pandemic the project has served as a way for those in his industry to contribute at a time when so many theaters have been closed and productions postponed or canceled. He knows the feeling well as he had several New York projects in motion prior to the pandemic.
“It’s so easy to feel powerless and overwhelmed right now,” Nachamie said. “But we can use our talents toward keeping our eye on what needs to happen instead of shutting down. That’s the big thing we thought about. With being overwhelmed from everything coming at us — here is one simple act: Vote.”
Access videos, take the voting pledge and find more information at justonestepfordemocracy.com.