Kelvin Harrison Jr
While only 24, Harrison has stood out from the crowd with a prolific streak of acclaimed roles, including Travis in the 2017 horror film It Comes at Night and Weeks in Dee Rees’ Mudbound. His ascent continues in 2019 with a slew of projects, including the films Luce, The Wolf Hour, Gully, and the T.V. series The Godfather of Harlem.
Besides your natural talent for acting, we read you’re quite the accomplished trumpeter and pianist, and that music is a family tradition.
My mom’s a jazz vocalist and my dad’s a jazz saxophonist, so music is a huge part of my family. My uncle, my cousins, almost everyone in my family plays music to some extent, so it was something that naturally happened. I played piano in the church, and music was a huge part of my upbringing. My dad wanted me to be a musician because we have connections and we understand the art form in the world, so it was something that felt fixed. So to derail from that path and start acting felt like a bold step.
Your latest film, Luce, about an adopted boy from Eritrea living in America debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Why is Luce Edgar’s story such an important one to tell? What was the biggest take away from playing the character?
At first I had a lot of questions, because I judged the character. And you can’t judge the character or else you won’t be able to play the role. But I was like, why would this kid have such a vendetta? Why is he so angry? Then I started to peel back the layers and it was such a fascinating exploration of what it feels like to be a young man from another country, trying to find his place in America. [Luce] has been asked to take away pieces of himself to become who he needs to be to find some type of equality in a world that doesn’t necessarily offer that to him as a black man in America. That was interesting to me, and that’s what I kind of wanted to explore. I identify with his struggle to protect his identity.
It seems like you’re taking on some pretty heavy, rewarding roles. It also seems like the process of becoming these characters is a big driver of empathy for you. Would you say that acting helps facilitate that empathetic connection?
When I look at scripts I’m always like, ‘What do I have to offer, what can I learn from this?’ If I can learn something from it, then I believe other people will too. That’s how I approach it. If it seems really simple, at the end of the day, it’s about expanding the level of empathy that I have for the world. I love acting. It’s all good and fun, but it’s for a purpose. If it’s not for a purpose, then what would I be doing?
Photographer: Carlos Serrao at Beauty and Photo.
Hair: Sheridan Ward using Orbie at Cloutier Remix.
Makeup: Kristin Hilton using Hourglass Cosmetics at The Wall Group.
Manicurist: Merrick Fisher using Chanel Le Vernis at Opus Beauty.
Photographed at Hubble Studio
Producer: Amy Ground.
Production Coordinator: Thalita Mangin.
Lighting Director: Ron Loepp.
Digital Tech: Damon Loble.
Cinematographer: Monica May.
Sound Design: Mey Chen.
Illustrator/ Collage Artist: Alice Isaac.
Assistant: Jacob Khan.
Grips: John Brunhold And Brian Beverly.
Electricians: Garrett Lara And Ernie Rosas.
Prop Designer: James Lear.
Prop Assistant: Wyndam Garnett.
Location: Hubble Studio, Los Angeles.
Post Production Stills: Rare Digital.