By Kayla Thompson, Communities of Color Junior Associate GLAAD.org | April 29, 2022
In an industry that can be unforgiving and complicated to navigate for even the most seasoned professionals, many creatives in film, television, and media are stepping up to the plate with groundbreaking ideas for how to revamp the landscape of the entertainment sphere.
Mike Gauyo is one such changemaker, a Black, queer, Haitian writer forging the path to Hollywood for more people of color and marginalized creatives.
Mike initially entered the entertainment industry as a production assistant before eventually pivoting and building his career as a writer and co-creator. To date, Mike has secured and excelled in writing roles on HBO’s “Insecure” and Netflix’s “Ginny & Georgia,” and is currently co-creating and showrunning “Send Help,” a new series set to premier on AMC’s ALLBLK network this summer. Mike, along with his work and his personal mission to bring more Black, POC, and LGBTQ creatives to the Hollywood table, has been previously featured in Huffpost.
While continuing to carve out his own corner in Hollywood, Mike is simultaneously creating space and paving the way for other writers and creators like him.
Breaking into a career in entertainment is difficult, and can be especially challenging for Black and Brown and LGBTQ people as well as creatives from other marginalized backgrounds, all of whom are historically underrepresented in the industry. Despite the fact that more diverse stories have been produced in recent years, and that film and TV representation of marginalized identities and communities is on the rise, true equity in the storytelling and entertainment industry is still lacking.
UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report 2022 found that women and people of color “are still vastly underrepresented” in film, television, and related media, and the 2021 Writers Guild of America, West Screen Inclusion Report stated that, for the 2020-2021 television season, only 18% of screen credits were minorities.
Additionally, the appearances and representation of people of color and LGBTQ people in the entertainment industry can often tokenize those communities and identities, failing to offer characters and narratives in their full, rich complexity.
These reports outline a few of the numerous, and alarming, statistics that highlight not only the lack of diversity within the stories that are being told in Hollywood, but the pressing need for greater diversity among Hollywood storytellers themselves.
Recognizing this lack of Black, Brown, and POC creatives in the industry, and the dire need for their inclusion, Mike Gauyo has used the personal platform and career he’s built to launch the Black Boy Writes/Black Girl Writes Mentorship Initiative, which welcomed its inaugural class in 2021.
Writers have the unique ability to influence culture and entertainment for the better, and if marginalized writers are given the opportunity and space to write and share their own narratives, real change and improvement within the entertainment industry can occur when it comes to Hollywood’s depiction of POC and LGBTQ stories. With this in mind, Mike created Black Boy Writes Media and his mentorship initiative to address the lack of POC creatives and storytellers in Hollywood; to pave the way for such writers, to support them along the way to writers’ rooms, and to spur industry change.
The Black Boy Writes/Black Girl Writes Mentorship Initiative is a much needed connection to indispensable industry knowledge that equips POC creatives, and especially queer creatives of color, with the tools, knowledge, and social capital they need to find a foothold in the uphill climb towards Hollywood. The support the initiative provides to mentees includes essential programming such as writing workshops, guest speakers, writer’s roundtables, and the key opportunity to meet with networks and production companies.
Gauyo takes pride in being a Black, queer, Haitian writer, and is dedicated to amplifying similarly marginalized voices, especially those of other writers, those whose labor takes place off-camera and behind the scenes across the entertainment industry. Mike follows in the footsteps of his own mentors, using his voice to empower and highlight other LGBTQ creatives of color in the same way his mentors used their platforms to uplift him.
Mike’s mentees themselves are a testament to the success of the initiative as a stepping stone aiding already talented LGBTQ creatives of color on their way to positions in Hollywood. 2021 mentee Blake Williams was recently accepted into Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Mentorship Lab, and Joshua Myers, another 2021 mentee, recently co-wrote an episode of “Send Help.”
The Black Boy Writes/Black Girl Writes Mentorship Initiative has already returned for 2022. In partnership with Culture Creative Entertainment, Writ Large, Stage 32, and Final Draft, Mike’s program has excitedly welcomed an entirely new cohort of promising writers, all of whom are sure to prove valuable assets in enhancing the entertainment industry’s representation of, and narratives centering, LGBTQ people, people of color, and other marginalized communities.
Mike’s Black Boy Writes/Black Girl Writes 2022 class of mentees includes:
- Antoine Tate
- Brooklynn Fields
- J’ean Middleton
- Justin Dash
- Justin Fairweather
- Kirby Marshall-Collins
- Luis G. Santos
- Rita Usher
- Sandra Townsend
- Sherean Jones
- TD Stills
- Valerie Complex
- Willonius Hatcher
- Yvette Wren
Mike Gauyo has a relentless drive to increase not only the quality of stories being told about people of color in entertainment, but also the number of LGBTQ and Black and Brown people writing those stories themselves. He is a truly changemaking creative, blazing his own pathway to Hollywood, and uplifting marginalized creatives of color along with him.
To keep up with Mike, the incredible work, support, and energy he’s funneling into Black and POC creatives, and the Black Boy Writes/Black Girl Writes Mentorship Initiative, follow @b.l.a.c.k.b.o.y.w.r.i.t.e.s & @blackboywritesmedia on Instagram and @blackboywrites on Twitter.
Learn more about Black Boy Writes/Black Girl Writes events, programming, and how to apply on the initiative’s website.