When you think of Instagram, a 40-year-old basketball player probably isn't the first thing you think of. And it isn't likely that said player would be in contention for the best account on the social media platform. But this hasn't exactly been the most normal of years, either, and if you're looking for the most meaningful IG account, look no further than the one belonging to Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem. A glance at Haslem's timeline will reveal everything from support for the Black Lives Matter movement to charity work in the Miami community to an overall positivity that is desperately needed right now. There's no world where Udonis Haslem will "shut up and dribble," and his Instagram is a perfect example of why we're all better off with him fighting for what's right instead.

Best Author
Photo by Mari Esquinca

While Jaquira Díaz's debut memoir is called Ordinary Girls — a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Notable Selection and on handfuls of most-anticipated and most-read book lists — Díaz is clearly not your run-of-the-mill author. Recipient of a Whiting Award in Nonfiction and a Florida Book Awards Gold Medal (to name just two of her many honors), Díaz is an extraordinary writer who has penned an ode not only to herself, but to all Latinx LGBTQ survivors of shame, blame, violence, and erasure. Sandra Cisneros writes that Díaz is "a woman who has claimed her own voice, a writer who writes for those who have no voice, for the black and brown girls 'who never saw themselves in books.'" Díaz makes them all visible against the backdrops of Miami and Puerto Rico, and we never want to stop seeing through her eyes.

Best Poet
Photo courtesy of Miami Book Fair

We'd like to say that Maureen Seaton is the Pushcart Prize- and Florida Book Awards Gold Medal-winning author of 23 books of poetry, but we're not sure that's accurate; it could be 24 or 25 by now. One of the most prolific and award-winning poets to ever grace Miami, Seaton, the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and Lambda Literary Award, has penned at least 13 solo books of poems and co-authored at least ten. A gracious collaborator and a generous educator at the University of Miami, Seaton is enormously admired by readers and colleagues alike for her insight and prescience, including in lines like these: "I've never thought to call the world sweet before./A nemesis can do that for you, make things taste different./Suddenly you're a hero/ine./All this devastation — and you're still standing in the middle of it."

During the day, Anastasia Pavlinskaya is a producer at WPLG Local 10, but she really shines at night, when she's delivering laughs as a moonlighting comedian. Although Miami's stand-up comedy scene is small compared to that of New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago, Pavlinskaya stands out as one of its biggest champions. Take the pandemic, for instance: When everything was shut down, including her home venue, Villain Theater — where she's director of stand-up — Pavlinskaya managed to keep the momentum going by hosting a weekly virtual open-mike night. But don't sleep on her comedy chops, either: She's funny AF. Mining her Russian-American background for laughs (she insists her parents aren't spies), Pavlinskaya touches on the child-of-immigrants experience — something a lot of Miamians can relate to.

Best Local Boy Gone Bad
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It's been barely a year since the Miami Heat drafted Tyler Herro. The scouting reports showed Herro looking as clean-cut as his Wisconsin roots. But right from the get-go, the six-foot-five shooting guard has embodied Miami in human form like no other. From the outlandish clothing to the questionable hairstyles to the dating of Instagram celebutante Katya Elise Henry, the 20-year-old Herro is carrying all the glitz, glamour, and gossip that makes Miami alternately beloved and hated. But like the Magic City itself, Herro has thus far been able to back up his frivolities. Not only is he showing up at his day job, but he's been killing it with a sweet-as-pastelito jump shot. Will he continue to excel while burning the candle at both ends — especially next year, when he hits legal drinking age? You'll have to tune in to his social media accounts to find out.

Best Local Boy Made Good
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Imagine being a nerdy kid growing up watching all the Star Wars movies and playing intergalactic games with your friends. Imagine showing up to the movie theaters early just to see the midnight premiere of Phantom Menace. Imagine collecting all sorts of comics, books, and figurines of well-known movie characters and spaceships. Now imagine being that same nerdy kid and growing up to write a book that's officially part of the Star Wars universe and tells the origin story of arguably the most handsome pilot in the galaxy. Unless your name is Alex Segura, all that is just a fantasy. Miami native Segura had a childhood dream fulfilled when Poe Dameron: Free Fall was published by Disney LucasFilm Press in August. The 384-page novel tells the story of a young Dameron as he navigates the skies of growing up and ultimately becoming the hunk — er, rebel fighter — we meet in 2015's The Force Awakens. Writing his first Star Wars book is not the only feat Segura has to celebrate, however: The current New York resident published the fifth and final installment of his popular Pete Fernandez mystery series, Miami Midnight, in late 2019, and his next noir crime story, Secret Identity, which follows a female protagonist as she moves from Miami to New York and gets involved in the comic book world, is expected to be released soon.

Best Local Girl Gone Bad
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On a scale of Spicer to Scaramucci, Helen Aguirre Ferré is right up there with Kayleigh McEnany, only 30 years older and more experienced in the art of stonewallery. Earlier this year, as the coronavirus began ravaging Florida, Ferré — who at the time served as the main spokesperson for Governor Ron DeSantis — mounted attacks on local journalists simply trying to get a handle on how the virus was affecting everything from hospital-bed capacity to the state's purposely broken unemployment system. When DeSantis denied Miami Herald reporter Mary Ellen Klas entry into a press conference at the State Capitol after she'd pressed for social-distancing measures, Ferré stood idly by and later defended the decision. Then, in April, Ferré physically removed the state surgeon general from a media briefing after he, in a moment of transparency, suggested that Floridians might have to practice social distancing for an entire year. And in May, she berated the Orlando Sentinel for an "alarmist" headline forecasting thousands of coronavirus deaths in Florida, which ended up occurring even earlier than predicted. Finally, in July, Ferré left her job with the governor and took over as the executive director of the Republican Party of Florida. Unfortunately for Miamians, that means we're not quite done hearing from this hometown heckler.

Best Local Girl Made Good
Photo by Trenton Barboza

Thanks to an appearance in Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's internet-breaking "WAP" video and the release of her mixtape, Wolf Pussy, Sukihana (real name Destiny Henderson) hit it big in 2020. Though the mother of three is a native of Wilmington, Delaware, who has also lived in Atlanta, Sukihana — AKA Suki, AKA Suki With the Good Coochie — has a sound that's all about the 305, and her explicit mien likewise fits right in. "I've always been really confident and always been loud. I'm just a product of my environment, but now I feel like my environment is a product of me because I see a lot of women look up to me. I've helped a lot of people learn to love themselves and have confidence," she told New Times earlier this year. A hood girl at heart, she's far more than a nouveau-riche celebrity with an Instagram following nearing 1.5 million; she's a driven mother who craves balance and fruition at her core. "When the cameras come on, that's when Suki comes out," she says. "But I have a very small circle, and I'm a very spiritual person. I try to keep my chakras aligned, try to stay away from negative energy, and I'm big on manifestation. That's why everything I wrote down, I have."

Although Maya Ragsdale is relatively new to town, the Harvard-trained attorney has already become one of the loudest voices in the fight to reform Miami's criminal-court system. A former Miami-Dade public defender, Ragsdale is driven by a passion for the people she used to represent: poor, mostly Black defendants who have historically been railroaded by the U.S. penal system. Although no longer a participant in that system, Ragsdale has continued her advocacy as a so-called movement lawyer involved in organizing efforts with local groups. Working with the Dream Defenders, she helped start the Free the Block campaign, which seeks to end pretrial detention and the use of cash bail. And when the coronavirus reared its ugly head in March, Ragsdale was one of the first activists to sound the alarm about the inmates in Miami-Dade's jails, who — as she predicted — began contracting COVID-19 at alarming levels. Starting in April, she helped represent them in a lawsuit against Miami-Dade's corrections department, interviewing dozens of incarcerated people and their families to document unhygienic, inhumane, and even life-threatening conditions inside the Metro West Detention Center. "The people inside are vulnerable," she said during an April Zoom call, "and it's on us to protect them, because Corrections won't."

Feeding South Florida
Courtesy of Feeding South Florida

Feeding South Florida continues to step up big time. Last year alone, the organization — covering Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties, it's the largest food bank in South Florida — distributed 51.5 million meals to more than 700,000 individuals, including 240,000 children and 110,000 older adults. And this was all before COVID-19 and its ugly self settled in. Since that time, the nonprofit has seen a 600 percent increase in demand, with approximately one in five individuals experiencing food insecurity as a result of the pandemic. Amid this influx, Feeding South Florida continues to deliver, distributing tens of millions of meals since mid-March. Where everyday scenarios and,now, a pandemic have left people hungry, Feeding South Florida is the true fuel that keeps them going.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®