Writer Mike Gauyo is riding high on a thick set of creative clouds. The scribe is on the staff of “Fruit”, a trail-blazing web audio drama from web series pioneer Issa Rae. This is in addition to being on the staff of TNT’s popular show “Claws”. We’re living in interesting times where entertainment content is concerned, and Gauyo is more than happy to be part of this revolution.
Kreyolicious: Was it always a fantasy of yours to become a writer?
Mike Gauyo: Wow, great word choice – Fantasy – Yes, I day-dreamed a lot as a kid. Mostly because I was left alone, while both my parents worked crazy hours. In their absence, I spent a lot of time caring for my two siblings and cleaning (or not cleaning). [Laughter] I would create alternate universes in my mind and place myself there. It was my own from of entertainment. There, I could do anything. It was cathartic and still is. But no, it wasn’t a fantasy of mine to becomes a writer. I did’t find writing till later in life. From the time I could walk, my parents were grooming me to go to medical school and become a doctor because kids in Haitian households were only allowed three professions to choose from-doctor, lawyer or engineer.
It wasn’t til the earthquake in Haiti that I made the decision to changed the trajectory of my life. My parents and sister were there at the time. I could not reach them for three days. It was crazy and I feared the worst had happened. It was a really tough time in my life, In the end, thank God, they were all fine, but from that point on I made a vow to live my life the way I wanted and what I wanted to do was write.
Kreyolicious: How did you get involved with Issa Rae’s “Fruit”?
Interestingly enough, going back to my dream board, I had cut out a picture of Issa and put her on it. This was before I had ever met her. A month after pasting her on my board, she posted on her Instagram that she was having a mixer for black writer/creators and to gain entry to the mixer you had to submit a writing sample — Now, I’ll preface what I say next by saying that I had already moved to LA from Boston, I was already working on television for American Idol as their script assistant, and I had graduated college, magna cum laude, with a degree in theaer. I’m not saying if you make a dream board you can just sit back and relax, you still need to put in the work — But back to the story…So, I got into the mixer, met Issa, got a chance to work for her months later on an equal pay for equal work campaign she was doing for women’s right, then months after that, I connected with her again at the Austin Film Festival, where she was schedules to be a panelist and I was just a writer with a script that made it through the second round of the festival. After her panel, we got drinks. She talked about “Insecure”, which had recently been picked up for its first season. I talked about what I was doing and how I was looking to transition from reality TV to scripted. And a week later she emailed me about a podcast series she was doing called “Fruit”.
So the point of that long ass story is dream boards work, but you need to work too. You have to speak what you want into existence or chances are it won’t happen. Even worse, if you’re too scared to speak it into existence then you’ll be too scared to try.
Kreyolicious: What’s it like being on the staff of a show of this magnitude?
“Fruit” is an audio drama that airs as a podcast, so the magnitude in this case doesn’t really have the connotation of being daunting like a series formatted for television might have. Fruit, more or less, harkens back to the days of radio soaps and is formatted similar to the “Serial” podcast. With that in mind, it’s been different, and great, and creative, and the other writers in the room are amazing, and talented and we all work very well together. Two seasons of “Fruit” have already aired on Howl.FM, but the first season of “Fruit” is also now available for free on iTunes. For season one, I wrote episodes 3, 8, and the finale. For those who don’t know, “Fruit” is a scripted audio series about a sexually fluid football player who accounts event from his past, dealing with love, relationships, and the game of football. It’s told in a first narrative. Everyone should check it out!
Kreyolicious: Do you ever doubt yourself?
Mike Gauyo: I doubt myself all the time. Every time I write a new script, every time I make a decision about what direction to take in my career, and every time by boss on Claws asks me a question, any question. [Laughter]
Kreyolicious: How do you overcome that?
Mike Gauyo: I overcome it by getting over myself and getting out of my own head. Usually, I tell myself I am too grown and(or) bougie to be living a broke lifestyle so let me stop doubting and make this shit work so I make more money because I like nice things.
Kreyolicious: And you’re also part of TNT’s “Claws”. What’s that like?
Mike Gauyo: Working on “Claws” has been great! I’m learning a lot about writing for television. I’ve had the opportunity to bend the ear of some great writers. I get to listen in on notes calls from the network and the studio, which have been invaluable to my own growth as a writer. My boss, our showrunner, Janine Sherman Barrois, is superhuman and the personification of black girl magic. Her work ethic is unparalleled and I’ve been able to learn so much just by watching her.
My position on the show is that of a Writers’ Production Assistant, which includes making sure the writers eat, taking notes on calls from the network and studio, concerning notes on scripts, and, when needed, writing notes on the board in the writers’ room. The great part about that is, while they’re brainstorming, I have an opportunity to chime in and ask questions. I don’t write on this series, but “Claws” is right in line with the type of genre I like to write, so who knows what will happen. I’m speaking it into existence, y’all!