Netflix's Stranger Things became one of the hottest shows streaming, rocketing its young cast to stardom. Playing Lucas Sinclair was a big break for actor Caleb McLaughlin.
But the experience hasn't been without its drawbacks.
The actor spoke out about the racist abuse he received from fans of the show.
During a discussion at the Heroes Comic Con Belgium event this week, McLaughlin described how racism impacted his experience of being on the series in ways big and small.
See his comments below.
Many Black stars have been subjected to racist attacks.
Halle Bailey faced torrents of abuse since the announcement she will play Ariel in the upcoming Disney The Little Mermaid live-action remake, as has Leah Sava Jeffries, who is playing a lead character in the Disney+ adaptation of the Percy Jackson young-adult book series.
In the Star Wars universe, actors John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran received extensive online hate that often included racial slurs and White supremacist rhetoric.
And it isn't just the sci-fi and fiction fandoms with a racism problem.
The contestants of color on RuPaul's Drag Race have cited racist abuse from fans, fewer bookings and fewer social media followers for queens of color. They've also spoken out about racial bias in what White contestants are allowed to say and do without public backlash versus how BIPOC queens are treated.
The racism McLaughlin faced began years ago, right from the start of Stranger Things in 2016.
As he told the Belgian audience:
“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 line because you were mean to [Millie Bobby Brown’s character] Eleven.’ Even now, some people don’t follow me or don’t support me because I’m Black.”
McLaughlin also said when the show first blew up into a global sensation, he noticed he gained far fewer social media followers than his White costars like Finn Wolfhard and Noah Schnapp.
He discussed the way his parents had to level with him about it at the time.
“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.”
On Twitter, many thanked McLaughlin for speaking out about his experiences.
Despite the racist abuse he has faced, McLaughlin says he's not about to let it change him. He told the audience in Belgium.
“I do not give hate back to people who give hate to me."
He's not letting it slow his career down either. He's set to appear in the high-profile LeBron James biopic Shooting Stars, slated for release next year.