"I'm a black man. But my name is Kyle," bespectacled comedian Kyle Grooms told a laughing Def Comedy Jam crowd. "Hard to get respect in the streets when your name is Kyle." But from the stage, this funny man is making his not-so-tough name one to know in the comedy game today. Grooms got his start in Miami working as a Univision art director. Though he recently returned to his home state of New Jersey, Miami claims him as its own because he worked his honest, unique perspective into hilarious acts on Magic City stages for a long time. And after 20 years honing his craft, he's blowing up the New York scene, making rooms like the Comedy Cellar shake with laughter. You may have seen Grooms on his own half-hour Comedy Central standup special, NBC's Last Comic Standing, or Chappelle's Show. He has also been featured on P. Diddy's Bad Boys of Comedy, Jamie Foxx's Laffapalooza, and Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn. You don't have to respect Kyle Grooms in the streets, but you will totally respect him after a solid chuckle-fest standup set.

Best Hip-Hop Act

Hip-hop is a genre typically defined by someone vocalizing with rap. But as Black Violin, Fort Lauderdale's Kevin Sylvester and Wilner Baptiste have turned that idea on its head and stripped it of its literal voice. Known as Kev Marcus and Wil B, the classically trained violinist and violist (respectively) craft hip-hop symphonies with the sound of their stringed instruments and the help of a DJ. Marcus was 9 years old and Baptiste was 14 when they first picked up their stringed instruments, flourishing as performers at Fort Lauderdale's Dillard High School. They were influenced by the sounds of jazz violinist Stuff Smith, who expanded the ways the instrument could be used in music. Black Violin started out playing South Beach clubs in hopes of booking shows. They now travel the world touring and visiting schools to play with local youth orchestras. They've toured with Linkin Park singer Mike Shinoda's side project Fort Minor and worked with Diddy, Tom Petty, Aretha Franklin, and Aerosmith. Most significant, they performed at one of President Obama's inaugural balls in 2013.

Miami Beach native Nikki Kidd has been crooning since she was 4 years old. She grew up singing gospel in church, classical in school, and reggae, rock, and R&B at home. Kidd studied studio music and jazz voice at the University of Miami's esteemed Frost School of Music, and her commanding stage presence has led her to share the stage with big-name acts such as Gloria Estefan, Michael Bublé, KC and the Sunshine Band, and even the Florida Grand Opera in its production of Aida. Though she still performs locally with her Nikki Kidd Band, she has a residency at the Mandarin Oriental's Bamboo Bar in Bangkok, Thailand. Her shows are worth that trip around the globe, but she hasn't forgotten her hometown.

Best Performance Artist

Visual and performance artist Sleeper's name is a fitting one. He's low key IRL but takes elements from the universal subconscious, mixes them with nightmares and dreams, and molds them into art. Sleeper has studied his craft since third grade and was the valedictorian at the New World School of the Arts College, where he majored in sculpture. His work incorporates performance and mind-blowingly creative costumes he calls "suits," which become fascinating, surreal sculptural artifacts post-performance. Sleeper also works to foster an alternative queer scene in Miami with Gender Blender, which provides a stage for queer artists and musicians; and the LGBTQ+ monthly night Counter Corner, which he established with bearded drag queens Juleisy y Karla. Both events provide queer performers with a safe space to bring their artistic visions to life. Sleeper is also a member of the noise band Squid Squad, makes a mean cocktail at downtown bar the Corner, and sometimes rides an absurdly tall bicycle around downtown. He is always creating or doing something worth watching.

Let DJ Hottpants, AKA Daniel Blair, help you meet the single girl of your dreams at his new film night, ReelHottpants. The bearded DJ and Miami native takes all the guilt out of guilty musical and movie pleasures and turns them into good times — the main ingredient in the recipe for a love match! He's kept South Florida's booties swaying for 15 years and continues to do so with his residency at Gramps' LGBTQ+ party Double Stubble. But recently, the local celeb partnered with the hip Little Haiti improv and comedy venue, Villain Theater, for an interactive movie experience. If you're not the funniest person, have Hottpants do the heavy lifting for you as he presents hilarious commentary on his favorite campy movies and films, such as Valley of the Dolls and Glitter. There's audience participation and the occasional red carpet, too. You may just hit the jackpot by running into a girls' night out brigade and meet your future wifey.

Orchestrated by the A&E District, the monthly Rooftop Unplugged Sessions at the Filling Station Lofts feature curated, live musical performances under the Miami moon and stars. Romantic, right? The rooftop parties are low key, so you can chat with the solo dudes you meet without having to shout over the music. Showcases are early, from 7 to 9 p.m. on select Thursday nights, so odds are the man you meet probably has a job and likes to go out, but not party too hard. Rooftop Unplugged Sessions feature light food, handcrafted cocktails by booze sponsors, and an unparalleled view of the city's skyline. They're also free, so if you strike out, you'll still have enough dough for your next matchmaking opportunity.

In "I Am Your Grandma," the viral video crafted by creative power pair Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva, Mayer sings a love song of sorts to her unconceived grandchild. "I wish we could have met/I would have hugged you so/But you are in the future/You get love by video." And it is through video and film that Mayer and Leyva have shown Miami tons of love. In 2012, they directed the surreal comedy Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke, which brought 2 Live Crew frontman and New Times columnist Luther Campbell to new audiences and renewed relevance. As codirectors of the Borscht Film Festival, they've worked tirelessly with other dedicated talents to build up Miami's film community. Leyva introduced his mentor, playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, to director Barry Jenkins, and the duo went on to make Oscar history with Moonlight. Mayer and Leyva have crafted music videos seen by millions for Arcade Fire's "Signs of Life" and Awesome New Republic's "It's Around You." Their most recent short, Kaiju Bunraku, was their third film to show at Sundance Film Festival in Utah, and even their first collaboration, Scenic Jogging, showed at the Guggenheim. Mayer and Leyva are now developing their first feature, a film set in Cuba.

Best Actor
Courtesy of the GMCVB

Set in the garish and raucous world of professional wrestling, Miami New Drama's The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity is an ethnological fable wrapped in a flashy parable told through the eyes of narrator Macedonio "Mace" Guerra, a lucha libre-masked wrestler portrayed with ardent passion by the magnetic Pierre Jean Gonzalez. Mace is a wrestler's wrestler — a student of the game and a natural heavy who gets relegated to playing the "bad guy" role in every match, partly due to his massive talent for making lesser but more charismatic wrestlers look good in the ring. Gonzalez played Mace with a frenetic energy that could have quickly lost its bearings in a less-talented actor. But Gonzalez walked the fine line between exaggeration and understated ambition. Along the way, the audience witnessed Mace's growth as a character and, in the end, it was Gonzalez's infectious charisma that made crowds root for the bad guy.

Best Actress

Does DNA decide not only where we come from, but who and what we're meant to be? That question is the starting point of GableStage's Informed Consent. At the center of the play is a genetic anthropologist named Jillian, played with heart-wrenching intensity by Betsy Graver. In the story, Jillian finds herself in an ethical and personal dilemma: Her mother died at a young age from complications brought on by early-onset Alzheimer's, and Jillian fears not only that the gene has been passed down to her, but that she may have passed it on to her own young daughter. Jillian is so driven to unlock the genetic mystery that could save her and her daughter that she dives into her work without thinking much about its moral consequences, and how it might affect an entire indigenous tribe living in Arizona. Based on a true story, Informed Consent is a complex drama fraught with existential crisis, and Graver was at the center of that hurricane, playing Jillian with a subtle brilliance that echoed a mother's deepest anguish while struggling to preserve her moral dignity.

Best Musical
Justin Namon

The Color Purple is a heartbreaking period piece based on a harrowing novel about the hardships African-American women faced in the early 20th Century. Audiences know it best from the 1985 film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Oprah Winfrey, but modern audiences have witnessed Alice Walker's poignant journey through a Tony Award-winning musical, which came to the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in February. With a stripped-down set and minimalist lighting, the production made way for its talented cast and accompanying music themes including gospel, jazz, blues, and ragtime. It should be a nearly impossible feat to put music and dance to a gut-wrenching story like The Color Purple, but this cast pulled it off in what was truly a work of musical theater alchemy. And yet, that is the indomitable spirit of the African-American plight: suffering overcome through song. The Color Purple musical nailed it.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®