Winners Crowned at 13th Annual Young Talent Big Dreams Competition

Winners Crowned at 13th Annual Young Talent Big Dreams Competition

Nicole Becker and Emma Van Assche take home grand prize

Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, together with presenting sponsor The Children’s Trust, are proud to announce the 2023 winners of Young Talent Big Dreams, the most widespread, local FREE youth talent competition in Miami-Dade County. Nicole Becker, 14, from Miami Arts Studio 6-12 @ Zelda Glazer and Emma Van Assche, 13, from International Studies Charter School, were the Overall Grant Prize Winners. They took home $500 in cash provided by Actors’ Playhouse, and four tickets to Universal Orlando along with a hotel stay for two nights courtesy of WSVN 7News.

A marathon of preliminary and semifinal competitions for student performers ages 8-17 culminated in the finals held on Saturday, May 13, 2023, at the Miracle Theatre. Prizes ranged from cash awards, master classes with industry professionals and performance opportunities to performing arts scholarships sponsored by SouthState Bank and the Coral Gables Rotary Club.  

Hundreds of hopeful contestants attended six preliminary auditions held over the past three months in distinct geographic neighborhoods including the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables, the Dennis C. Moss Cultural Arts Center in Cutler Bay, Sandrell Rivers Theater in Liberty City, and Miami Arts Studio 6-12 @ Zelda Glazer in Kendale Lakes. Participation was free and was specifically for residents of Miami-Dade County. The competition featured a total of six individual categories: pop/rock/rap vocals, musical theatre/jazz standards/classical vocals, dance, musical instrument, original spoken word, and original vocal and/or instrumental composition. Group categories (six or fewer members) included dance, musical instrument/bands and vocal groups.

Semifinals and finals were held before live audiences; up to five acts in each individual category and up to three acts in each group category advanced to the finals, where judges selected a winner in each category as well as a grand prize honoree.

"The amazing talent among Miami-Dade County's young people is inspirational," said Actors' Playhouse Executive Producing Director Barbara S. Stein. "Actors’ Playhouse is proud to be part of nurturing young performers so that they can continue to soar in their experiences, whether or not it be in the performing arts or other meaningful careers. We are glad the individuals who participate all work hard to succeed, and if they do not win placement in one year, they return the next year striving for first place. Partnering with The Children’s Trust is part of a community-wide effort to reach out to all young people across Miami-Dade County in this one-of-a-kind talent contest."

“I want to congratulate all the winners of this year’s Young Talent Big Dreams Competition. Year after year this event demonstrates the incredible talent in Miami-Dade County,” said James Haj, resident and CEO of The Children’s Trust. “We are a vibrant community that supports the arts, and it was fantastic to see everyone’s talent on display.”  

Young Talent Big Dreams follows the popular TV talent show model; judges have included a host of industry professionals from the performing arts community. Judging the May 13 finals were David Arisco, artistic director, Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre; Howard Cohen, breaking news reporter, the Miami Herald; Kerine Jean-Pierre, professional dancer, choreographer, teacher and actor; Shamele Jenkins, artistic director of Lip, Tongue & Ear Poetry Productions and executive director/CEO of the Miami-Dade County Foster & Adoptive Parent Association; and Ruby Romero-Issaev, executive director/CEO of Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida.


Group Vocal and Overall Grand Prize Winner

Nicole & Emma

Nicole Becker, 14, Miami Arts Studio 6-12 @ Zelda Glazer and Emma Van Assche, 13, International Studies Charter School

Individual Dance Winner

Daniel Rodriguez, 9, iMater Academy Elementary School

Individual Original Composition Winner

Julieta Valle, 11, Homeschool

Individual Vocal – Broadway/Jazz/Classical Winner

Ciara Martinez, 16, New World School of the Arts

Individual Vocal – Pop/Rock/Rap Winner

Shantel Ruiz, 11, Norma Butler Bossard Elementary School

Individual Original Spoken Word Winner

Nailah Robinson, 17, Miami Norland Senior High School

Individual Musical Instrument Winner

Drumongus (Angel Cerra), 12, South Miami Middle School

Group Dance Winner

AP Mays Pointe Team

Emelyn Jarquin, 11; Lorena Lacerda, 14; Emily Luna-Martinez, 16; Luis Miranda, 17; Hayley Riley, 13; Nyla Smith, 14; all students of Arthur & Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts

Group Musical Instrument/Bands Winner


Zoe Assis, 16 and Julian Quintero, 16 of True North Classical Academy and Sebastián De Varona, 17 and Hugh La Fontisee, 17 of Westminster Christian School

For more information, visit To learn more about The Children’s Trust, please visit

Media Contact: 
Natalia Zea
Chief Public Policy & Community Engagement Officer, The Children’s Trust