Stranger Things Star Says Fan Racism Affected Him

Stranger Things star Caleb McLaughlin says he encountered racist behavior from fans as a child.

By Joshua Jones | Published

While many outside of the entertainment industry would believe that starring in a hit show such as Stranger Things would garner a lot of positive vibes, one star from the show has revealed that it also brings a lot of dark clouds as well. Actor Caleb McLaughlin, who played the role of Lucas Sinclair in the hit Netflix series, spoke about his experiences dealing with racism during a Heroes Comic-Con panel. The now 20-year-old actor revealed that he’s dealt with racism since starting out in Hollywood and recalled a story in which people refused to stand in line to see him at Comic-Con because of what he believed was his skin color.

“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.’ 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.”

Despite having a significant role in Stranger Things, McLaughlin admits he has “the least amount of followers” on social media. While the racism he feels has certainly been a dark cloud above the actor, he’s still proud of being able to “spread positivity” whenever he can and not give in to all the hate. During his appearance at Heroes Comic Con, McLaughlin told the story of asking his parents why fans disregarded him despite being “on the same show as everybody from season 1” of the hit Netflix show.

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According to McLaughlin, his parents said it was just the “sad truth” of being a famous black performer in Hollywood. It’s a conundrum many outside and inside the industry still have trouble sorting out, which is the fact that black actors and actresses aren’t given the same respect and roles as their white peers. Even actress Viola Davis is experiencing a similar issue when it comes to her film The Woman King.

Fans online have debated whether the backslash surrounding Davis’s new film is due to people’s disappointment over the film’s depiction of slavery or because a black woman leads it. Davis recently fired back at those boycotting the project, saying that much of “the story is fictionalized.” In the case of Stranger Things star Caleb McLaughlin, his role in the show is overshadowed by other major characters such as Eleven and Chief Hopper.

The actor played a more significant role in the fourth season of Stranger Things, with his character trying to balance being the popular high school basketball star with remaining close with his friends and romantic interest, Max. By the end of the season, Lucas finds himself in a dark place after Max’s encounter with the evil Vecna in the Upside Down. Lucas appears to have decided to give up his new popularity status at the end of the show to focus on helping his friends take down Vecna.

According to actress Sadie Sink who plays Max, her character’s storyline “seems to be up in the air.” The Duffer Brothers have confirmed that Stranger Things 5 will wrap up the entire series. With Max in a coma and the upside-down seemingly passing into the real world, there’s no telling what the future holds for characters like Lucas.

McLaughlin is set to return in the final season of Stranger Things. In addition to his role in the hit Netflix series, he’ll also appear in the upcoming LeBron James movie Shooting Stars, which is scheduled to come out in 2023.