Stranger Things premiered way back in 2016 and catapulted its young stars to fame. That young cast, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, and Millie Bobby Brown, was only aged ten to fourteen years old.
Over the years, the entire gang has gone to conventions and interacted with their millions of fans. Noah Schnapp often goes viral for his online hijinks and Millie Bobby Brown’s success led to her being named on Time’s 100 list of the world’s most influential people in 2018.
However, Caleb McLaughlin says that he hasn’t always felt the entirety of his fandom’s love and dedication. He recently spoke about growing up in the public eye and dealing with racism.
McLaughlin was 14 when he debuted in the first season as Lucas Sinclair, who was first very cautious around Bobby Brown’s Eleven. He did eventually realize she was on their side and welcomed them into the group.
When Sadie Sink joined the gang as Max in season 2, she and Lucas began a relationship that became another focal point of the show.
But McLaughlin says that he doesn’t receive the same amount of support from fans of the show as his costars. He has fewer followers on social media and much shorter “meet” lines at conventions.
He says that the treatment “affected him a lot” when he was younger. He also says that his parents told him he was “the least favorite” because he was the “Black child.”
“My very first Comic-Con, some people didn’t stand in my line because I was Black,” Caleb said during a live Q&A. “Some people told me: ‘Oh, I didn’t want to be in 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’ll feel the racism,” he continued. “You’ll feel the bigotry, and sometimes it’s hard to talk about and for people to understand.”
“When I was younger, it definitely affected me a lot because — this is a deep conversation right now — you’re like: ‘Why am I the least favorite? The least amount of followers? I’m on the same show as everybody from Season 1,’” Caleb said.
“My parents had to be like: ‘It’s a sad truth, but it’s because you’re the Black child on the show,’” Caleb recalled. “Wow, that’s crazy. Because I was born with this beautiful chocolate skin I’m not loved?”
So, he says, “That’s why, with my platform, I’m going to spread positivity and love because I’m not giving hate back to people who are giving hate to me.”