Born and raised in New Orleans Kelvin Harrison Jr. is bringing a good dose of comedy to the dramatic series “StartUp” (Crackle) playing Touie Dacey. Harrison is just 22 years old but that’s hard to imagine when you look at his lengthy resume.
Harrison has already appeared in FOX’s “Shots Fired” and this fall will be seen in Netflix’s “Mudbound”, directed and co-written by Dee Rees, A24’s “It Comes at Night,” the hyper stylized “Assassination Nation”, from producer David Goyer and the screen adaptation of the popular and topical book “Monster”, which will serve as his first leading role. “Monster” is based on the popular William Dean Norris novel of the same title.
To highlight the point—again—Harrison is 22 years old.
If you’re not familiar with the hit “StartUp” season one introduced an unlikely trio of partners who come together to create and launch a new digital currency called GenCoin. This was the brainchild of Cuban-American tech whiz Izzy Morales (Otmara Marrero) and this idea brought all the wolves out for the hunt.
GenCoin is an unregulated, universal global currency designed to put financial power in the hands of millions of people without access to traditional banks or currency. You can clearly see why such a game changer would be of keen interest to gangster-bankers and government thugs opps—officials—who aspire to manipulate the word’s economy. Izzy’s vision is embraced by Nick Talman (Adam Brody), a banker who is eager to do good in the world and differentiate himself from his money-laundering father … Circumstances lead Izzy and Nick to accept a third partner, Ronald Dacey (Edi Gathegi), a Haitian-American gang leader and family man who sees GenCoin’s potential to benefit for both his business and his community. Market domination requires being first in the market but obstacles include an angry FBI agent; a violent Russian mob family; and their own naiveté.
Surprise-surprise. By the end of season one, the three have lost ownership of GenCoin to a callow tech entrepreneur who is backed by the Russian mob.
In season two of “StartUp” (9/28) the bloody fight continues over GenCoin with the story returning to the Miami streets and the trio Izzy, Ronald Dacey (Edi Gathegi), and Nick Talman reinvesting their partnership and launching a new endeavor, a darknet prototype called ArakNet.
But as their decentralized network begins to grow, so too does the peril, the corruption, and the moral turpitude.
Here is what the fast-moving actor Kelvin Harrison Jr. had to share about the heroes and s-heroes in his life and the joy of being directed by two, powerful African-American female directors.
Los Angeles Sentinel: In “StartUp” you play a character by the name of Touie Dacey, please describe him using musical as your reference point. What type of genre does Touie sound like?
Kelvin Harrison Jr.: (laughing) Music. Interesting. I would give [Touie] him a soul score. Something funky like that because I feel that he has such strong emotions and the roller coaster [ride of his life] he kind of goes through is just very dramatic. He goes through internal dramatic moments in his life.
LAS: According to your biography music has been a part of your life since childhood.
KH: (laughing) Have you been following my Instagram? I only play piano and trumpet: that’s all I know.
LAS: That’s all you know! You play two more instruments more than I play.
You shoot “StartUp” in Puerto Rico and Miami. Do you speak Spanish?
KH: I wish. I took eight years of Spanish and I still know nothing. My twin sisters are fluent [in Spanish] and at this point it’s kind of embarrassing.
LAS: Do you love being a big brother to twins?
KH: Are you kidding. The twins are so much fun. We are four years apart. Twins are interesting: they love each other and nothing can separate them. Sometimes it’s them against themselves or it’s them against the world. Watch it! Since they are millennials I discovered that you have to use Snapchat to keep them close because it’s the only way to keep up the streak.
LAS: Back up. The “streak?” I am not following. Please shed some millennial Snapchat light on me.
KH: This is really how you can keep the younger people in your life close to you. You have to send one picture or one video every day because when you do that Snapchat continues your streak.
It’s called the Snapchat streak! They do not want to break the streak.
LAS: “O.M.G.” if my late mother were alive—who by the way was also a twin girl—she would be an expert in Snapchat just so she could keep tabs on me.
KH: (laughing) That’s twin girls for you. They will find a way.
LAS: What do you love about the acting profession?
KH: Honestly I was never really good at school but with acting I enjoy researching to find out more about the characters and the time period that many of the stories take place in. Acting allows me the opportunity to read novels without the academic pressures. I am learning and I love to learn. I am learning more about people and cultures on a much deeper level and it’s opened me up on so many levels.
LAS:I can tell from the tone in your voice that you are very passionate about the work.
KH: Thank you. Yes, I am. When I am on set, I really get to dig in and use the knowledge that I acquired. I embrace it and live through these people [characters]. I’ve never been a slave [in the film MUDBOUND] and I’ve never been in the prison system but I try to find the humanity and the connection between the characters and myself.
LAS: At just 22 years old you’ve already worked with two African-American directors who the industry respects immensely: Gina Prince-Bythewood on Shots Fired and with Dee Rees in the soon-to-be released on Netflix “Mudbound.” What was that like?
KH: OMG. Gina [Prince-Bythewood] is just amazing. Amazing. You know what. She’s very shy but she’s so talented and very sweet. So is her family.
Director Dee Rees [Mudbound] is my heart. I was out of the country working on a film so I sent in my audition tape. The first time we actually met was on set and the minute we laid eyes on each other, she felt like a homie. That’s the relationship we kept after “Mudbound” wrapped. She is a friend and she immediately puts herself in position of being a friend and a collaborator. On set I can tell you that Dee’s laid back attitude takes away the “nerves”. She makes it feel like we are making a movie about a story that we all care about with your friend. That’s what exciting about Dee [Rees].
LAS: Who are the s-heros in your life?
KH: My mother is amazing. She is my rock.
Season 2 of Crackle’s hit show, “StartUp” premieres on September 28th