“Stranger Things” star Caleb McLaughlin is calling out the racist treatment he’s received at the hands of the fans and how it affected his popularity on the highly successful Netflix science fiction horror drama.
During an appearance at Heroes Comic Con in Brussels over the weekend, the actor, who starred as Lucas Sinclair since the show’s inception in 2016, spoke candidly about feeling like he was being treated differently than white co-stars, including Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Sadie Sink, and Noah Schnapp.
“It definitely took a toll on me as a younger kid. My very first Comic-Con, some people wouldn’t stand in my line because I was Black,” McLaughlin said at the event, according to video footage shared by an audience member on Twitter. “Some people told me, ‘Oh, I didn’t want to be in your line because you were mean to Eleven,’” he added.
“Even now, some people don’t follow me or don’t support me because I’m Black, you know,” he added. Even with 15.4 million followers on Instagram, McLaughlin remains the least-followed series star of six younger prominent cast members on the platform.
The actor said the negativity could even be felt abroad. He continued, “Sometimes overseas you feel the racism, you feel the bigotry. Sometimes it’s hard to talk about and for people to understand, but when I was younger, it definitely affected me a lot.”
McLaughlin admitted, “It’s hard to talk about and for people to understand, but when I was younger, it definitely affected me a lot,” before acknowledging how “deep” the conversation had gotten.
“You see, you’re like, ‘What? Like, this is a deep conversation right now — why am I the least favorite? Why [do I have] the least amount of followers? I’m on the same show as everyone else from season 1,'” he said to the crowd.
McLaughlin remembered what his parents told him when he began to feel his skin tone was affecting his career. “My parents had to be like, ‘It’s a sad truth, but it’s because you’re the Black child on the show,’ and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s crazy.’ Because I was born with this beautiful chocolate skin, I’m not loved,” he said.
However, the actor chooses not to focus on the racist chatter, stating, “that’s why with my platform I want to spread positivity and love because I do not give hate back to people that give hate to me.”