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'Insecure' Writer Mike Gauyo is Breaking the Mold With His New Show "Send Help"

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

Exclusive | TV & Film

HBO’s Insecure, the Emmy-winning comedy series created by Issa Rae, has broken numerous barriers and continues to be a favorite amongst its followers and especially the black community. The show has been noted to be a fan favorite due to the way consumers have been able to relate to the various characters and their hilarious, and often times very real circumstances. Whether you relate most to Issa, Molly, Lawrence, Kelli, Tiffany or Nathan, it’s safe to say we see a little of ourselves in each of these characters.

The foundation of great film and TV, and oftentimes the part that we don’t see, is amazing screenwriting. Insecure is no different and has also been recognized for its outstanding writing. This is shown in the various award nominations the series has received. Insecure even won an Image Aware (NAACP) for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series for its episode Everything Gonna Be, Okay?!

On the award-winning team for this particular episode is Haitian-born, and fellow member of the “alphabet mafia” Mike Gauyo. Gaye Magazine had the opportunity to meet up with Gauyo to talk a little bit about his journey and his new comedy series "Send Help" on ALLBLK.

Mike Gauyo was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and moved to Boston, Massachusetts when he was four years old, along with the rest of his family. Coming from an immigrant household, Gauyo expresses that he was met with certain career expectations often associated with what could be deemed as the “American dream”.

These careers are often categorized as jobs that offer financial stability or can afford opportunities that may not be available in the country of their birth. These careers include medicine, law and engineering; and as such, Gauyo found himself attending college for pre-med.

Mike Gauyo tells us that whilst pursuing medicine he realized that he didn’t really enjoy that particular field. By happenstance, he found a screen-writing class and it was in this moment that he truly enjoyed what he was doing.

“I grew up writing, it was always a hobby… But I couldn’t see a pathway towards that [writing]… I didn’t see people like me that were doing it… And I wasn’t being encouraged.”

It was after this that Gauyo decided it was necessary for him to explore what he wanted to do. In the midst of deciding to switch majors, Gauyo took some time away from school, due largely to financial issues, but also to figure out what it is that he wanted for himself. He found himself in the world of banking and finance but still struggled with what would be expected of him versus what mostly aligned with his wants.

In 2010, a devastating earthquake hit Haiti causing tremendous damage to the country’s infrastructure and economy. Mike Gauyo’s family happened to be in Haiti at the time and for approximately three days, Gauyo was unable to contact them.

It was in this moment that he was faced with a thousand difficult thoughts, including the question of if he would be left with the task of raising his then twelve-year-old brother without the assistance of his parents. He was fortunate enough to have finally heard from them, assuring their safety. Gauyo tells us that it was this life-changing incident that transformed the trajectory of his career.

“Live for yourself, life is too short… there were a lot of risks that I wasn’t taking because of fear, and fear will control your life … So I released all of that.”

Mike Gauyo encountered Issa Rae in 2015 at a mixer for her production company. A prerequisite for entry to the mixer was to submit a body of work to which he happily obliged and was met with one on one time with Rae. American Idol". Shortly after graduating, Gauyo moved to Los Angeles to continue working until he was asked to work on Netflix’s "Ginny and Georgia".

Mike Gauyo encountered Issa Rae in 2015 at a mixer for her production company. A prerequisite for entry to the mixer was to submit a body of work to which he happily obliged and was met with one on one time with Rae.

“I made her laugh so I felt like boom! I was in there,” laughs Gauyo whilst recalling the event.

It wasn’t until a few interactions later between the two that Gauyo finally got invited to write for her. Gauyo put his foot in the door by accepting an invitation to write for Rae’s scripted 2017 podcast called "Fruit". From there, he remained in communication with Issa Rae until she asked him to join the writer’s room for Insecure.

Mike Gauyo mentions that he has learned invaluable lessons from his time spent working with Issa Rae. When asked what his takeaway from his experience with her has been, he tells us:

“She works incredibly hard… It was understanding the work ethic needed to be at that level [of her career] and learning to do it with grace. She operates with grace and with love and is about her business.”

He goes on to say that Issa Rae has always championed his career. “She’s fantastic…Down to earth and she’s just honestly one of the best people I’ve ever met.”

According to an article published by the Hollywood Reporter, approximately 4.8% of TV writers are black. Mike expresses that when he first got into television, he went into it "completely blind". However, he acknowledges that persons of color typically have to work harder than other groups of people in particular spaces in order to grow.

“This is something that has been tasked to us as black people, as someone who is gay, as an immigrant… And so we have to work together.”

Gauyo voices that this is a large reason behind the creation of his mentorship program – Black Boy Writes & Black Girl Writes. The initiative was launched in 2021 and has been geared towards up-and-coming black and brown writers looking to step into the world of screenwriting.

A part of the purpose of the program is to amplify minority voices and to also provide access to upcoming writers. Gauyo recalls that when he first started in television, he knew no one but quickly realized that what predominantly prevents minorities from elevating into particular roles, is the lack of access. He also mentions that as he developed in his own career, he realized that he was afforded a level of access that other people weren’t.

“It’s all about facilitating connections.”

Gauyo believes that his purpose has always been to help others and to help lift them up to the same level as himself or even further than where he is. He also tells us that creating purposeful content is just as important as helping others.

“…Creating content that says something, that amplifies someone, that amplifies marginalized voices.” He is living in his purpose as he has just recently created and released a new series titled "Send Help", which is now streaming on Allblk.

As the writer behind the new series, he wanted to change the narrative specifically surrounding Haitian-born persons, stating that they are often presented as “one layered monolithic characters,” which is not a true representation. The series is loosely based on the stories of his own brother and friend Jean Elie, who also stars in the series and wrote parts of it alongside Gauyo.

Mike Gauyo has three jewels of sage advice to offer those who are looking to start or move further into a career in screenwriting. He tells us firstly to network with intention.

“Work hard, network intentionally and make genuine connections with people you genuinely like, and build your tribe.”

Secondly, he advises to never stop writing amid everything else that may be happening. And lastly, he says to us, “be good to yourself, give yourself some grace…. Allow yourself grace because it doesn’t happen overnight.”

In achieving the level of success that Mike Gauyo has, he has been met with personal struggles that he has had to overcome. He shares with us that he battled with imposter syndrome for a very long time and that it took a toll on the conception of his own self-worth. Gauyo says having time during the COVID lockdown to introspect really afforded him the ability to work through some of his “demons”.

He told us that in order to overcome those issues he was facing internally he had to “push that away to move through the fear.”

Mike Gauyo says he’s still climbing the ladder, but it’s safe to say that on the other side of all of the self-doubt and “demons”, there has been some pretty good things. He reiterated that it hasn’t been the easiest journey with navigating a lack of encouragement from his family, coming out and traversing television as a black, gay, immigrant.

However, he says that it has been well worth it to see all his hard work paying off. Mike Gauyo is claiming spaces for himself and creating spaces for persons that look like him. He is a part of the minority that is advocating for the marginalized and breaking the mold of what it means to follow your dreams.

Mike Gauyo, we see you and we salute you. Gayes, be sure to support Mike Gauyo’s new series and watch Send Help, now streaming on Allblk.


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