Stranger Things Star Caleb McLaughlin Gets Candid About Racist Comments He Has Received At Fan Events From A Young Age

Caleb McLaughlin in Season 4 of Stranger Things wearing a basketball warmup jacket.
(Image credit: Netflix)

When Stranger Things dropped on Netflix, it was almost an instant hit. The kids who made up the main part of the cast immediately became fan favorites, and people still love these kids four seasons later. Even new actors entering the show like Maya Hawke in Season 3 or Joseph Quinn in Season 4 have had the “surreal” experience of being on such a popular show. However, along with the love, actors like Caleb McLaughlin, who plays Lucas and is the only Black actor in the original group of kids, has received racist comments about his role. He recently got candid about the difficulties of hearing these comments from such a young age. 

McLaughlin was recently speaking at Heroes Comic Con Belgium and was asked about what it was like to be so young and have to hear racist comments about him. He also spoke about people ignoring him at conventions because he wasn't one of the white cast members. He explained 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. Some people told me, ‘Oh I didn’t want to be in your line because you were mean to Eleven [Millie Bobby Brown].'

On Stranger Things, McLaughlin’s character was skeptical toward Eleven in Season 1 but did come around. Then, as the seasons progressed his relationship with Max became one of the duos we couldn’t get enough of.  However, some people still don’t support McLaughlin on the show, he elaborated at the convention: 

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.

The actor behind Lucas is currently 20 years old, he was 14 when Season 1 came out. McLaughlin spoke about how he had taken this negative experience and tried to have a positive impact on his own social media accounts. He said: 

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.

Much like McLaughlin, Halle Bailey has talked about the racist backlash she has received over being cast as Ariel in The Little Mermaid. And like the Stranger Things actor, she cited her family as being very supportive of her and helping her. While both have received backlash, their roles have provided important representation on film and television. For example, mothers filmed their Black daughters getting so excited when they saw Bailey’s Ariel for the first time. 

Being in such popular franchises is no easy task, and these actors seem to have worked hard to make sure they have a positive impact on viewers and fans, as McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin is set to return as Lucas for the fifth and final season of Stranger Things, and you can currently watch him in Seasons 1 through 4 of the hit show with a Netflix subscription. 

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She has written for national publications as well as daily and alt-weekly newspapers in Spokane, Washington, Syracuse, New York and Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated with her master’s degree in arts journalism and communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Since joining the CB team she has covered numerous TV shows and movies -- including her personal favorite shows Ted Lasso and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She also has followed and consistently written about everything from Taylor Swift to Fire Country, and she's enjoyed every second of it.