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Jean Elie Gives Us a Behind-the-Scenes Look at His New Series, 'Send Help'

Jéan Elie is probably best known for his role as Ahmal Dee, Issa’s quick-witted younger brother on Insecure. He gave us punchy lines, dry humor, and a rivalry with Kelli Prenny that brought many of us joy. Now, he’s stepping into a leadership role of his own making in his new series Send Help, which he created with his producing partner, Mike Gauyo.

Elie is young, gifted, and Black with a laser focus on making a lane for himself and the stories he finds important. BGN had a video chat with Elie, and he brought all of his #BlackBoyJoyinto the virtual room. He shared his thoughts on discovering his passion, how Insecureprepared him for his future, and what the audience can expect from Send Help.

What led you into the arts?

That wasn’t my dream growing up. I literally thought I was gonna be an astronaut or a scientist. I was in love with Dexter’s Laboratory and things of that nature. So I was like: “Yes! Science. That’s what’s going to be.”

My parents are immigrants, and I’m a first-generation Haitian American, so they wanted me to do something practical, like a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. It wasn’t until around 20-something that I heard a radio ad for The Real World/Road Rules, and I wanted to be on one of those shows. I went to this casting call, which turned out to be a scam, it piqued my interest enough to try it out. I started looking for jobs on Craigslist, and I found one that became a speaking role on that day. I improv-ed my way through the scene.

It wasn’t until I got an acting class at Playhouse West that I really fell in love with the craft of creating and telling stories and just being and just living, you know? But then, as time goes on, you’re not getting the jobs you want. So I’m saying f*** it. I’m just gonna start creating my own work and telling my own stories and telling stories I want to be involved in.

I was also inspired by my roommates when I lived at Bassett House. My roommates there encouraged me to take myself and my career much more seriously than I did when I first got there. One of my roommates was my go-to scene partner. Another roommate acted as my manager, and another roommate might help me get people for photos. They just inspired me because they were all creatives. We all support one another and share each other’s craft and art to support each other’s work.

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