Mike Gauyo will talk about his background, and how he became Haitian-American now…thank you very much. The talented writer is on the staff of the groundbreaking web podcast drama “Fruit”, an Issa Rae production. Creatively, it doesn’t stop there for him. He’s also part of the staff of “Claws”, a much-discussed drama on the popular network TNT. Over the course of the last segment of our conversation, we discussed how he became a writer. This time, we’re going to go back to his childhood, discuss his philanthropy and the methodology he uses to achieve his goals.
Kreyolicious: Tell us about yourself and about what it was like growing up Haitian-American.
Mike Gauyo: Well, I was born in Haiti and moved to Massachusetts when I was 4. We landed in Mattapan, which was like an Ellis Island for Haitians. [Laughter] After living there for a couple of years, we moved to Quincy, then finally set roots in Cambridge, where I attended Cambridgeport Elementary School and Cambridge Ridge and Latin High School. I mention these moves because I went from being in an ESL class with only Haitians (in Mattapan) to being the only black kid in the class (in Quincy), to only then end up in a really diverse environment (in Cambridge). When I think back on it, each place I’ve lived really informs the type of person I’ve become because I’ve experienced both sides of the spectrum. I didn’t really have an awareness of myself as a Haitian living in America until I was the only Haitian, let alone black person, in a class full of white faces. Then it became…”Why’s your last name so weird?…Why do you talk like that? Is that African? What language is that?” Mind you, I already had, and still have, a lisp, so you can imagine all the side-eyes, eye rolls, and facial gymnastics I had to perform to keep myself from cursing people out. But yes, growing up Haitian-American was not so much a struggle, it was just different. You weren’t like any of the white kids, but you also weren’t African-American. So, I’d say we were the original “Black-ish” family – I’ll take my check now, Kenya Barris!
Kreyolicious: Haha. You’ve been to Haiti lately?
Mike Gauyo: I haven’t been back to Haiti since before the earthquake. I used to go every summer between the ages of 10 and 18. I do plan on going back really soon.
Kreyolicious: So, you’re involved with an organization called Alliance HH. Tell us more.
Mike Gauyo: The Alliance for Housing and Healing is an organization that provides housing and healthcare services for the homeless. I recently competed in my second Spartan Race to help raise money for the Alliance and our team was able to raise over 65,000 dollars. It’s a great organization and I was happy to help in any way. Even if it meant putting my body through an 8 mile obstacle course. I don’t know what I was thinking, but it was fun and we raised a lot of money for the homeless. So yeah, no pain, no gain. I’ll be doing two more races this year.
Kreyolicious: Do you ever look back at the Mike of the past and think, “I done changed”?
Mike Gauyo: Yup! [Laughter] And thank God I did. Change is good. In order to grow, a person needs to change. Change the way you think, change your habits, and in some cases, change your friends. The circle you surround yourself with needs to uplift you and provide an environment that is conducive to your own success. The people in my circle are who I lean on and vise versa. When I make it, my team makes it.
Kreyolicious: What changes in you are you most proud of?
Mike Gauyo: I changed the way I think about success. It’s not a destination, it’s continuous, it comes in waves, it’s fleeting. You have to keep working to keep it.
Kreyolicious: Along the way, what helped you keep on track and focused on your goals?
Mike Gauyo: As soon as I committed to writing as a career, there was really no stopping me. I do things to keep me focused, like I write down a list of my goals and make dream boards. I turned my desk at home into a dream board. On my desk are pics of people who inspire me and who I want to work with, phrases that uplift me, titles or words I want associated with my name, like writer, creator, Oscar winner, husband, father, sexiest man alive…I’ll let you decide if that last one was a joke or not. [Laughter] But yes, dream boards and lists are how I stay focused.
Kreyolicious: On that account…What if someone was building a personal development library and asked for your suggestions. What books would you recommend?
Mike Gauyo: As a man growing up in this skin, in the “United” States of America, I would suggest Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, and any/everything by Toni Morrison and James Baldwin.
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