Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Touie Dacey are growing up together.
New Orleans actor Harrison, who just turned 23, portrayed 16-year-old Touie in the first season of the Crackle drama series "StartUp," and he returns in the 10-episode second season, which debuted online Thursday.
"He's trying to find his voice, he's trying to find his purpose and he loves and respects his dad and basically he's just trying to show him, 'Hey, I'm growing up. I'm a man, and I want you to see me as that,' " Harrison said of young Touie.
Meanwhile, Touie's father Ronald (Edi Gathegi) is a protective and loving father, husband and high-level Haitian gang member hoping for a better, licit life. In Miami, Ronald partners with a desperate banker and a Cuban-American hacker to develop an unregulated digital and global currency, GenCoin. Powerful FBI agent Phil Rask (Martin Freeman) keeps close watch as the high-stakes operation elevates to a life-or-death struggle.
"So he's (Touie's) a rebellious kid who's eager for his life to begin and finds himself in a lot of trouble in the process of that," Harrison said.
In Season 2, viewers will see changes in Touie as he attempts to make adult decisions and deal with the consequences, Harrison said.
"He feels remorse and he feels isolated, even more so than he used to, and now he's trying to right his wrongs," Harrison said. "So that's going to be interesting seeing him mature in that way and truly understand that we can't just do anything that we want. That's not how life works. Everything has a consequence. So every piece of wisdom that his dad shared with him has a reason behind it, and we're watching him understand that and grow from it this season."
Preparing to play Touie, Harrison said he researched the Miami-based criminal street gang Zoe Pound extensively.
"I watched a lot of documentaries, trying to figure out the culture and the mindset behind these guys that are so violent and so scary, really," he said. "And why they do what they do and why people are so afraid of them, and what it might be like to be a kid who's slightly off in the neighborhood, and not necessarily a part of it or a second-generation Haitian but also surrounded by the culture."
Harrison said he's attracted to roles that parallel his life.
"So as I grow older, it's just kind of a progression of discoveries. I was trying to find my voice. I had a great relationship with my dad, and I was trying to be a man," Harrison said of the time surrounding when he accepted the "StartUp" role.
Harrison's career progression has taken him from the stage at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts studying jazz instrumental, to the University of New Orleans, where his focus was film. But landing a small role in the feature film, "Ender's Game," shot partially in New Orleans, sealed the deal. Harrison would be an actor.
Other Louisiana projects have included last year's reworking of TV's "Roots," WGN America’s “Underground” and the feature film “12 Years a Slave.” Shooting for "StartUp" took him further away, to Miami and Puerto Rico.
"It's basically a work-cation you know," he said of his stays in the latter vacation hotspot months before Hurricane Maria devastated the Caribbean island in September Shooting for Season 2 extended from January to May.
"You get to go to the beach every day and have a good time. It's fun, it's fun. It's beautiful," he said. "The weather is somewhat like New Orleans but tropical, breezy. It rains in spurts in small sections. We stayed at a hotel right by the beach. Everything's in walking distance, kind of like New Orleans."
Harrison made the jump and moved to Los Angeles in March, but he returns home often for his "New Orleans fix." Those trips are, of course, in between his numerous projects.
The actor can be seen in the horror movie, "It Comes at Night," which arrived in theaters in June, and later this year in "Monster" alongside Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson.
Shot last year in New York, "Monster" is based on the novel by Walter Dean Myers about a 16-year-old filmmaker and artist who's falsely accused of being an accomplice to a murder. He spends time in prison, and there's an epic court trial, Harrison said.
"It's really about perspective and how everyone's perception of you can affect a kid at such a young age, how we're receiving everything around us, and how we're defined as a person," he said.
"Being a lead in a movie, it's exciting, and everyone is looking for that moment in their careers. It's definitely challenging, but we should always rise to the challenge if it's given to us."
How to watch 'StartUp'
Visit crackle.com and register for an account (it's free). Then click on TV, Crackle Originals and scroll down to "StartUp."
NOTE: Episodes of Season 1 are still available for viewing.