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In 2016 we got Moonlight, probably the first honest portrayal of Miami on the big screen. Now we’ve got Grown, a coming-of-age comedy series written, acted, and produced by local Haitian-Americans Joshua Jean-Baptiste and Edson Jean about dating, cultural identity, and figuring out how to adult.
Remezcla says that if you loved Atlanta and Insecure, you’ll love Grown. You can catch it tomorrow night at Tower Theater (and pretty much any time you want at complex.com).
We chatted with Josh – who, full disclosure, is a member of our volunteer street team – about the journey from scribbling down inspo from bad dates to streaming his series with Complex, a big media company.
How did you end up writing Grown?
Edson and I met when I first got to college (at New World School of the Arts), and I moved in with him my sophomore year and we just clicked. When it came time to going out on dates and stuff, he would give me advice. I would come back with these crazy stories, and he suggested I start writing them down. Slowly by slowly I started writing a pilot. It moved away from being about dating and stuff like that to self identity and Haitian-American culture and what that means for us and raising yourself without a father. It started one place and got into something a lot deeper.
Have you seen any other portrayals out there of the young Haitian-American experience?
I have not seen many and if I have, in my eyes it’s not been accurately portrayed. That’s been the biggest flag we’ve been waving is representation of the Haitian-American culture and the Latin culture and on top of all that, the proper representation of Miami. Ballers is cool and all, but I don’t live on a yacht. That’s been our biggest thing: properly repping the city and the fruit it bears.
On the show, you’re a nerdy guy who can barely talk to girls. How accurate is this in real life? What about Edson (“Wes” in the show), who’s a total ladies man?
[Laughs] I’ll say that these characters are inspired off of our past growth, some things are really exaggerated.
What are some totally Miami things and places we’ll relate to when we watch the show?
I would say the complete immersion in language – we don’t have subtitles and that is something that’s reflected on this city… someone will speak in Spanish and expect you to speak in Spanish or speak to you in Creole and expect you to speak in Creole. It’s that melting pot that we got a chance to accurately reflect on the show. We have Cubans playing Cubans, Venezuelans playing Venezuelans. The culture and color palette of Miami is something we’re really proud of [representing].
If you had to choose three spots to hit up on your perfect Saturday night, what would they be?
I would say Villain Theater for some improv, then I would go to Purdy Lounge, and then I would go to The Corner for a drink and end up talking about politics with some homeless guy until 8 o’clock in the morning. … That’s my favorite bar in the city.
What’s your favorite Haitian food item? And where’s the best spot in the city to get it?
I recently became a plant based eater, so I’m going to give two answers. Vegan-wise, Naomi’s has good options. But there’s a spot in Little Haiti named Piman Bouk. Before I became a plant eater, man, they have a tasso, it’s a deep-fried goat. That shit is POPPING.
Name a couple organizations leveling up our creative scene, especially our theater and drama scene.
Villain Theater definitely, I love their work, they’re on the come-up. Juggerknot Theater Company is bumping it up, Miami Motel Stories was awesome. That’s next-level stuff there.
Got you hooked? Catch a special screening of Grown at Tower Theater tomorrow night with the Miami Film Festival at 6:30 p.m. Details here.
Got an opportunity, workshop, scholarship, grant, etc. you want other curious locals to know about? Hit us up at [email protected] to have it listed here.
Making history. As teachers go on strike across the U.S. over pay, it’s been mostly business as usual here in Miami-Dade because state law allows striking teachers to be fired. But it wasn’t always that way. 50 years ago, the first teacher strike in U.S. history went down right here in Miami-Dade, after the governor vetoed $150 million in funding for Florida public schools. WLRN takes a deep dive into how Miami became a labor rights trailblazer – and how it all unraveled in the decades following.
So extra. One Thousand Museum, the stunning residential high-rise across from Museum Park designed by Zaha Hadid, has added yet another thing that will make your eyes pop: the only private, residential helipad in the entire U.S. Residents will be able to book the helipad so they can be whisked away to the airport or scores of other places, high above us normals. (Curbed)
So Florida. We’re so used to Publix’s giant, old-school scales – which they call “people weighers” – that we barely notice them anymore. But they’re actually pretty unusual, and we’re loving this story on how they came to be. Apparently when the first Publix store opened, the only place a person could be weighed was the doctor’s office, or the rare coin-operated scale, so Publix decided to offer the service for free – and it just stuck. Today they’re a lifesaver for people trying to figure out if their suitcases filled with items for family back home are over the baggage weight limit. (Tampa Bay Times)
Smokin’. A year and a half after it was legalized in Florida, after a whole lot of regulatory headaches, medical marijuana is finally picking up steam in Florida. The state is registering an average of about 5,400 people a week as new users. And while it used to take weeks or months to get approved, the turnaround is now down to about two weeks. Now business is booming for dispensaries all over the state, although some cities are still working to keep them out. (Miami Herald)
PSA. The Sunpass system is down for maintenance from 7 p.m. on June 5 to 9 a.m. on June 11. For things like highway tolls, nothing’s going to change for the average Sunpass user, but if you’re trying to use it to pay for parking at one of South Florida’s airports or stadiums, you’ll have to find another way to do that. (Miami Herald)
Hurry up. When a Hollywood nursing home lost power during Hurricane Irma last year, 12 residents died due to extreme heat because the building lacked a generator or other ways to keep the residents cool without A.C. Outraged, the legislature passed a series of laws requiring backup power for cooling all nursing homes and assisted living facilities that went into effect on June 1. But as we enter another hurricane season, only a fraction of the facilities meet the requirements. (Miami Herald)
👍 HUSTLE SMARTER From Idea to Reality is June 13. Inspiring keynote, changemakers & coaches for 1 to 1 consults for entrepreneurs & innovators. BOGO discount today!
🌽 6/3: Shop and eat local at the Yard’s Farmers’ Market (Wynwood)
🍳 6/12: Learn Michael Schwartz’s kitchen tricks (Wynwood)
🌀 6/12: Take a deep dive into how climate change affects hurricanes (Allapattah)
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Going to one of these events? Tag us on Instagram with @thenewtropic. Want your event here? You can always suggest it by sending the info over to [email protected]
MONDAY, JUNE 4
🎥 Catch a doc on injustices facing transgender people in prison (North Beach)
🍷 Drink all the rosé for a good cause (South Beach)
TUESDAY, JUNE 5
🤣 Catch some episodes of Grown, a new made-in-Miami comedy series (Little Havana)
🌊 Catch a doc about water, our most precious resource (Downtown)
🎙 Learn how to launch your own podcast (Coral Gables)
🤣 Laugh it up at Puto Coffee Tuesdays (Little Haiti)
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6
🍺 Learn how to pair your beer and noms at Yardhouse (South Beach)
🏆 Chat with a Time 100 honoree (Downtown)
🌼 Skip the sad desk lunch and head to Arts in the Garden (South Beach)
THURSDAY, JUNE 7
🎮 Break out the Mario Kart at Cafeina (Wynwood)
🏳️🌈 Catch LGBT-focused short flicks + a drag show at Microtheater Miami – through June 24 (Downtown)
🗣 Gather “around the table” with Ruth Shack (Allapattah)
⚽ Kick it at PAMM’s futbol-themed community night (Downtown)
FRIDAY, JUNE 8
🎸Get down to that Miami sound with the Spam Allstars (North Beach)
🕹 Go epic places without leaving Miami at this VR expo – through Saturday (Little River)
🎂 Celebrate a year of Las Rosas (Allapattah)
🎤 Jam with T-Swift (Miami Gardens)
We’ll catch you mañana. 👋