While attending the Heroes Comic Con Belgium, Caleb McLaughlin, who has gained worldwide success from starring in Netflix’s Stranger Things, discussed the racism and bigotry he has faced from fans over the years.
In a video now-viral video on Twitter, McLaughlin, who began the series when he was 14 years old revealed the racist backlash he personally received, “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,” he added. “Some people told me, ‘Oh I didn’t want to be in your line because you were mean to Eleven.’ Even now some people don’t follow me or don’t support me because I’m Black. 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 has played the role of Lucas Sinclair in the series since the age of 14. Now 20, he also said his younger self would wonder, “Why am I the least favorite? The least amount of followers? I’m on the same show as everybody from Season 1.”
“My parents had to be like, ‘It’s a sad truth, but it’s because you’re the Black child on the show… 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 give hate back to people who give hate to me,” he said.
Caleb McLaughlin is an original main cast member opposite Finn Wolfhard (Mike), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin), Noah Schnapp (Will) and Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven). While his main counterparts didn’t deal with the racism and bigotry he dealt with, unfortunately his experience is one many Black and brown people consistently face.
Halle Bailey is currently the constant target for racist backlash over her portrayal of Ariel in the upcoming Little Mermaid remake. Steve Toussaint, who plays Lord Corlys on House of the Dragon, has been hit with racist comments from online trolls. Earlier this month, the cast of “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” condemned the “relentless racism, threats, harassment and abuse” targeted at its POC cast members. And back in May, “Star Wars” released a similar statement after Moses Ingram revealed on social media that she had been flooded with DMs calling her the N-word and a “diversity hire.”
Despite the backlash, McLaughlin, who is set to return to Stranger Things for the fifth and final season, has remained a class act and one of our favorite characters.