Caleb McLaughlin, who plays Lucas Sinclair on Netflix’s Stranger Things, has opened up about the racism he experienced as a young actor. Netflix’s Stranger Things premiered its season 4 in a two-part rollout this past summer to largely positive reviews, with the show’s final season currently in the works. The sci-fi series is one of the streaming platform’s most popular and lucrative shows, consistently breaking viewership records and garnering strong reviews from critics and audiences alike.
Though Lucas has been a part of the core cast since season 1, McLaughlin’s character really got his time to shine in Stranger Things season 4. Now in their high school years, Lucas had become part of the Hawkins High School basketball team and distanced himself from his friends, who have joined a Dungeons & Dragons group led by fan-favorite Eddie Munson, and from his now-ex girlfriend Max. While McLaughlin scored rave reviews for his performance in Stranger Things season 4 as he was forced to grow up quicker than ever and protect Max, it appears he hasn’t avoided some toxicity from a certain subset of audiences.
While appearing at a Q&A at Heroes Comic Con Belgium, Stranger Things’ Caleb McLaughlin opened up about the racism he faced early on in his role. The Lucas actor said the negative experiences confused him and “took a toll” on him early on in his acting career, as well as left him confused as to why he was not gaining the same amount of social media followers or positive attention from fans as other actors on the show. See what McLaughlin said during the Q&A below:
“It definitely took a toll on me as a younger kid. My very first Comic-Con, some people didn’t stand in my line because I was Black. Some people told me, ‘Oh I didn’t want to be in your line because you were mean to Eleven [Millie Bobby Brown].’
My parents had to be like, ‘It’s the sad truth, but it’s because you’re the Black child on the show.’ I thought Wow, that’s crazy. Because I was born with this beautiful chocolate skin I’m not loved, but that’s why with my platform I want to spread positivity and love because I do not want to give hate back to people who give hate to me.”
McLaughlin is not the only Black actor who’s experienced blatant racism from their own fan base. Just last week, actor and singer Halle Bailey, who will play Ariel in the Disney live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid, spoke out about how racist commentary affected her, choosing to allow it to push her to deliver the best performance possible. Additionally, this month earlier saw Ismael Cruz Córdova and Sophia Nomvete, leads in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, receive harassment and threats from racist fans following the show’s premiere. The stars of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy have since spoken out in defense of their successors, amongst other celebrities.
This isn’t the first time McLaughlin has spoken about the racism he’s seen since his breakout role kicked off, with the Stranger Things star having recalled this past summer how much of the trauma explored with Lucas in relation to Billy in season 2 connected to his own experiences with toxic audiences. Stranger Things season 4 went on to explore more of Lucas’ backstory, as well as Hawkins’ troubled conservative beliefs, exemplified in their mob mentality while they hunt down Eddie, believing him to Chrissy’s killer. With likely over a year to go until the final season, one can hope McLaughlin continues to face less racist backlash and more of the love deserved for his beloved character.
Source: Heroes Comic Con Belgium/Twitter