By Manish Pandey
Newsbeat reporter

Caleb McLaughlinImage source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Caleb said it can be hard to open up about experiences with racism and bigotry

Stranger Things star Caleb McLaughlin has said he has faced racism from fans of the show.

The 20-year-old, who plays Lucas Sinclair, was asked how he dealt with being one of the few black cast members in the Netflix hit.

He said his treatment from some fans “took a toll” on him.

“My very first Comic-Con, some people didn’t stand in my line because I was black,” he told fans at a convention in Belgium.

Caleb, who joined Stranger Things at age 14, is one of five original main characters alongside co-stars Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Noah Schnapp and Millie Bobby Brown.

The other actors have more Instagram followers than Caleb – something that he discussed with fans during his on-stage appearance at Heroes Comic Con in Brussels.

In a video shared on Twitter by an attendee, he says he asked his parents why he was the “least favourite” even though he was “on the same show as everybody”.

“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.”

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

The actors have been part of the show since 2016

Caleb said people had avoided him at early meet-and-greet events, telling him it was “because you were mean to Eleven”, referring to Lucas’s hostility towards Millie Bobby Brown’s character in season one.

“Even now some people don’t follow me or don’t support me because I’m black,” he told fans in Belgium.

“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.”

For Stranger Things fan Kadie, who is black, it’s tough to hear about Caleb’s experience.

“I wish it was a surprise, but it was a ‘here you go’ moment,” the 21-year-old tells BBC Newsbeat.

She says for people in the black community it was “a repeat moment” and something quite relatable.

“It makes you sad and angry at one point, but then you shrug it off and it’s a repeat, and you feel bad for the actor and you realise that’s the reality,” she says.

Kadie feels to improve things, it’s important to have more diversity in casting and behind the scenes.

She says the problem will still exist, but that more diversity “will help shift people’s views if we put more colour in their face”.

Image source, Prime Video

Image caption,

Sophia Nomvete as Disa in The Rings of Power, a spin-off of Lord of the Rings

Despite being a worldwide hit, Stranger Things has faced some criticism for its lack of casting diversity and accusations of sidelining its black characters.

Caleb is the latest black star to talk about receiving backlash because of the shows they were a part of.

Lord of the Rings actors recently condemned the “relentless” racist abuse suffered by cast members of the newly released spin-off series The Rings Of Power.

Non-white actors were trolled online for portraying a range of white fictional characters.

‘Spread positivity’

Speaking at this summer’s Comic-Con event in the US, the star of another fantasy drama spin-off, House of the Dragon, hit out at racist trolls who criticised his casting in the new Game of Thrones series.

Steve Toussaint, who plays Lord Corlys Velaryon, said it was “an issue they have to deal with, I don’t have to”.

And Disney’s recently released trailer for a new live-action version of the Little Mermaid, starring black actress Halle Bailey, generated criticism from people upset because the cartoon version featured a white mermaid.

Fellow Disney actor Rachel Zegler came to her defence, saying: “If you don’t support my girl Halle, who is the perfect Ariel, you don’t support any of us.”

Despite his experiences, Caleb said he was determined to not be drawn into negativity.

“With my platform I want to spread positivity and love because I do not give hate back to people who give hate to me,” he said.

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