Found Creator Nkechi Okoro Carroll Talks "Powerful" Medium of TV & Gabi’s Secret

Found is the latest hit in the NBC arsenal.

The series follows Gabi Mosley, a recovery specialist, as she and her team look to find missing people, all while Gabi holds a devastating secret. It’s a gripping drama with a fantastic cast and has the internet ablaze with theories and excitement.

The series was created by All American and All American: Homecoming Executive Producer Nkechi Okoro Carroll, who chatted with us about its many twists and turns. And the lively and amiable Okoro Carroll was an absolute pleasure to speak with.

As Found does deal with the search for missing people often overlooked by the system, Okoro Carroll was forthright in explaining the importance of telling these stories on television.

“I always see TV as such a powerful medium,” Okoro Carroll says. “I grew up as that TV kid who watched so much television, and I loved it all. And for the portions of my childhood where I grew up outside of the US, it was sort of a thing that still anchored me back to America and to the culture here. And so, it’s such a powerful medium.

“For myself, as I’m looking at this real prevalent issue that is not just affecting my community in terms of the black community but affecting so many other marginalized communities, I felt a responsibility and a need to try and address it in some way.

“And so by telling these storylines in what hopefully feels like an entertaining way for our audience, is in the process of them being able to relax and enjoy a show like this, is that it also opens their eyes a little bit to something that maybe they can contribute to themselves in terms of how they pay attention to when people are reported missing or what they look out for.

“Quite frankly, if even just 1% of the homes that watch Found, if it resonates with them, that’s 1% more of our population that is keeping more of an eye out there for missing people and playing a role in returning them back safely.”

Within these cases of the week, Gabi is hiding this monumental secret, as she has her kidnapper locked up in her basement. And it’s an intriguing twist as we see Gabi essentially committing the same crime she’s dedicated her life to preventing.

It’s a twist Okoro Carroll had planned from the onset.

“This is one of the things that never changed from the very first original concept of the show I had so many years ago,” she tells us. “It was, Gabi was always going to have Sir in her basement at the end of the pilot.

“And we were going to realize, ‘Oh, she’s using him as a way to solve these cases faster.’ Gabi is brilliant on her own, and as we learn at the top of episode two, where he reminds her that she’s had him for seven months, we realize, ‘Oh, she’s done this without him for a good portion of her career.’

“But when you have missing people and every minute, every hour is so important. If using Sir’s very twisted mind and the way he would approach crimes like that helps even save an hour, save 14 hours, save a few minutes, it can be the difference between life and death.

“And so I wanted to tell a story, yes, about the sort of forgotten people who slipped through the cracks. That we had a team of people who were dedicated and passionate about finding them because it’s not only the right thing to do but because they have a personal connection through their own missing person stories.

“But also to tell the story of what happens when you’ve experienced such trauma in your life and the healing goes right, and what happens when the healing goes wrong. And I think we can all agree, having watched Gabi in the first episode, is this is a phenomenal woman we’re rooting for, that clearly, the healing went wrong.

“And so now, hopefully, we’re rooting for her to get the help she needs because it’s very clear that she did not set out to become the kind of monster that she hunts every week.

“And somewhere along the way, she’s lost a little bit of herself in the trauma of what Sir did by holding her captive for a year. And so, we’re kind of catching her in the middle of all of this, and it’s going to be a ride of a story on trauma and healing and what it takes to get to a healed place.

“And for some of our characters, they are closer to that finish line. And we now realize with Gabi that while she looks like the poster child for when healing goes right, she’s actually the poster child for when it hasn’t and still needs to be done.”

Gabi is undoubtedly a fighter but also a complex character.

“This is another reason why I love TV so much,” Okoro Carroll says when asked how she thinks the audience will view Gabi. “I am sure the audience will be polarized.

“There’s going to be some people that are Tyra in that meme that we all love, where it’s like, ‘We were rooting for you. You had us.’ We were like, ‘Yes.’ And then, ‘why, girl, why?’ And there’s some people that are like, ‘Yes, revenge is a bitch. Welcome to the flip side. This is justice.’

“And then there are other people that are like, ‘Oh, she’s still hurting. She still hasn’t dealt with her trauma. We’re rooting for her to heal. Because healed, Gabi would’ve never done this.’ And therefore, they’re still rooting for her.

“And we’ve had feedback of all of the above from people, which has been really exciting to see. People either defend her or try to justify what happened. Or people who were just like, ‘I can’t believe you did this.’ And people like, ‘Oh girl, we need to get you to therapy quickly.’ And that’s what I love about this medium.

“That’s what I love about being able to tell stories like this. Everyone has such a very different visceral reaction. I know myself personally, I’m full-blown rooting for Gabi’s healing. At the end of the day, she’s this amazing, brilliant woman who had this horrible thing happen to her.

“And even though she thought her healing took, there were things that happened later in her life, which we will find out over the course of season one, that it was almost like she had little trigger bombs in her that started going off. And that’s how we realized, oh, she’s not as healed as we thought, or as healed as she thought.

“And with each case, with each person she saved, with each family she’s able to reunite, it is a little bit of healing, not just for her but for the whole team. And so, we’ll also see as that healing continues to happen week to week with each case they solve; how does Gabi start to reconcile how she’s living her life?

“How does Gabi reconcile whether the ends justify the means? And that is a moving target for her, whether the ends justify the means, throughout the first season.”

Flashbacks are employed in a way that allows the series to shade in the aspects of Gabi’s past as it relates to her captivity. And it’s an effective tool we’ll see continue throughout the season as it relates to Gabi and Sir’s past.

And though the series won’t necessarily use flashbacks to shade in the pasts of those who work alongside Gabi, we will learn more about the group over time.

“For season one, the flashbacks are mainly focused on Gabi’s character because we are telling a dual storyline of her year in captivity with Sir, and truthfully, how that is informing his time in captivity with her in the present day,” Okoro Carroll explains. “And so, the vast majority of our flashbacks center around that.

“But we do, throughout season one, fill in a little bit more of the puzzle pieces surrounding the past of the other characters. But in season one, we don’t delve into the full flashback effect the way we do with Gabi’s character. That is really centered on Gabi’s story.”

As far as what else to expect from Found Season 1? Well, we should all prepare to experience a variety of emotions.

“Listen, I’ve been telling people they need two things,” Okoro Carroll tells us. “You need a box of Kleenex, and you need whatever your favorite alcohol is of choice to calm your nerves at the end.

“Those are the two things you’re going to need for every episode of Found because it is a very emotionally driven show in terms of the victims we’re looking for, the survivors we’re looking for, and what happens when they run out of time. What does this team look like when they don’t successfully save someone?

“What does this team look like when they do successfully save someone and see the impact it has on both that person and their family’s lives? It is so emotional.

“There are times when my editors used to laugh at me because I’d be bawling on their couch. And they’re like, ‘You’re crying as if you didn’t write this. Watch it be shot and edit it with us.’ And I just get so caught up in the phenomenal performances by our cast. So, I tell people, ‘Yeah, have your Kleenex ready.’

“But it still has this major thriller aspect. And Gabi and Sir truly have this dynamic element to them because of Shanola Hampton and Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who were just tremendous talents in their own right. And so, it will take you on a roller coaster ride. There will be days where you want to throw and break something.

“And there’re going to be days where you’re scared, you’re angry, you’re happy, but then really disturbed that you’re wondering if you’re turning into Gabi by rooting for some of this stuff. And so, yeah, girl, have your glass of wine next to the tissue box for the run of this season.”

***This interview has been edited for length and clarity.***

You can watch Found on Tuesdays at 10/9c on NBC.

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