Caleb McLaughlin says racism from ‘Stranger Things’ fans is ‘hard to talk about’ sometimes

McLaughlin has played Lucas Sinclair on the wildly popular Netflix sci-fi series since its first season in 2016.

Caleb McLaughlin is opening up about his experience playing Lucas Sinclair on Netflix’s wildly popular series, “Stranger Things,” revealing the racism he encountered from the fandom at a very young age.

“Stranger Things” is a global phenomenon and one of Netflix’s biggest success stories, attracting a rabid and loyal fan base. Constantly breaking ratings records and setting trends, the sci-fi series is officially gearing up for its fifth and final season, which is currently in production. During a recent appearance at the ​​Heroes Comic Con Belgium convention, McLaughlin — one of the remaining original cast members of the series — opened up about an unfortunate aspect of being on such a show.

As the sole Black character in the show’s original core group of kids, he was bombarded with racism, McLaughlin revealed at the convention. “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,” he said. 

24th SCAD Savannah Film Festival - Entertainment Weekly's Breaking Big
Caleb McLaughlin, speaking at Entertainment Weekly’s Breaking Big event last October during the 24th SCAD Savannah Film Festival, said it’s sometimes hard to talk about the racism directed at him by “Stranger Things” fans. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for SCAD)

“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.”

Noticing the difference in the fan response he received compared with his Season 1 co-stars Finn Wolfhard, Noah Schnapp and Gaten Matarazzo, he would ask himself things like, “Why am I the least favorite? The least amount of followers?  I’m on the same show as everybody from Season 1.”

He continued, “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,” McLaughlin added.

“Stranger Things” broke viewership records when it returned for a critically acclaimed fourth season earlier this year. The fifth season has yet to receive a release date.

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