The Untold Truth Of Caleb McLaughlin

Caleb McLaughlin became a recognizable star for portraying Lucas Sinclair in Stranger Things. The New York native popped up on several notable television series such as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Blue Bloods before breaking through as Lucas in the wildly popular Netflix series.

Being cast in another Netflix project helped solidify his emergence as one of the rising actors of his generation. McLaughlin played Cole in the movie Concrete Cowboy where his character is a troubled youth from Detroit who heads to Philadelphia to live with his estranged father. Cole’s father, who is played by Idris Elba, is an urban cowboy who rides and cares for horses in the city. As McLaughlin told Flaunt, the film was based on real people. “This isn’t a made-up story, this is about the people that live in Philly, and they’ve been riding horses for generations,” the actor told the outlet in March 2021.

McLaughlin told Decider in April 2021 that he had a lot of “intense training” to get comfortable on horseback, but prior to riding the horse, he had to build a bond with the animal. “I spent like a week before actually hopping on the horse just building a relationship with a horse,” the Concrete Cowboy star said.

Who is the person that became such an accomplished performer at such a young age? Keep reading to learn more about the impressive actor.

Caleb McLaughlin was a Broadway star

Before Caleb McLaughlin was known as Lucas Sinclair he got his first real break appearing in an iconic play. The young actor played Young Simba in The Lion King from 2012 until 2014, per Playbill. McLaughlin was first cast for the role when he was only 10-years-old, but he told Neu Neu Media that he set his sights on the role even before that. “My parents took me to see The Lion King two years before I got the job. I just knew that I wanted to be Simba,” he told the publication in 2019. That was the impetus for his acting career. “A few months later, I started community theater and then I was the right age to audition,” McLaughlin added.

While working on The Lion King, McLaughlin formed a bond with another child Broadway actor: Gaten Matarazzo, who fans may recognize as Dustin Henderson from Stranger Things. In 2016, the two young actors appeared on the SiriusXM show EW Morning Live, and the former Young Simba busted out a stirring rendition of “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King,” (via Entertainment Weekly). Both Matarazzo and McLaughlin admitted during the interview that they often broke out into song while on the set of Stranger Things.

As covered by Theater Mania, in 2019 McLaughlin visited his former play and posed for photos with the cast of The Lion King, and shared the snaps on social media. Keep reading to see how the actor uses social media to impact lives. 

Caleb McLaughlin has his own hashtags

Besides being known for his part on Stranger Things, Caleb McLaughlin is also insanely popular on Instagram. He has used the social media platform as not only a way to share updates with fans but to send messages of positivity. “I remember when I had something like 700 followers and thought that was a lot,” he told Neu New Media in 2019. “Now I get to show people more positivity and bring energy and good into the world.”

The actor leveraged his online popularity to make the hashtags #EmbraceYourFace and #BeYourBiggestFan trend, as per Teen Vogue. “It’s important for me to stay positive and always be my biggest fan,” he said in a November 2017 interview with VMan. “My parents taught me this at an early age. It’s important to give positive energy to help other people.”  Those positive messages were not fabricated to garner more likes and follows, as they were just the result of the actor expressing himself. “I’m not trying to keep up this appearance of being nice and being positive to get more people to love me,” he said in an August 2019 interview with Glass magazine.

Becoming a celebrity did however make McLaughlin more self-aware. “The most challenging part of my life is being more conscious of what I say or do because I’m a public figure now,” he told VMan. Another aspect of McLaughlin’s life he puts a lot of thought into is his sartorial choices. Keep reading to see how clothes help define him.

Caleb McLaughlin is a Gen Z style icon

Besides putting thought into the message behind his Instagram captions, Caleb McLaughlin puts serious thought into the clothes he wears. For him, a person’s style can say a lot about their personality. “It shows how you carry yourself and what you think about yourself,” he told Glass magazine in August 2019. Although it does not mean the actor is a brand snob; “I just like what looks good on me, something crispy and smooth,” he said during the interview.

In a 2019 feature article about the young star, High Snobiety described him as “a budding style icon,” as they referenced his eye-catching purple tuxedo at the 2017 Emmys. “When I put on an outfit that I really like, it just builds my self-confidence,” he told the outlet. “I like good fabrics, colors that make me pop.” As covered by Beautiful Ballad, McLaughlin made his runway debut modeling for Pyer Moss in September 2019.

The actor told VMan that he tries to push the envelope when it comes to fashion choices, and he finds inspiration from many places including the NBA. “I would say Russell Westbrook is my style inspiration. He is fashion forward and he takes a lot of fashion risks which I like,” McLaughlin told the publication.

Although he enjoys a “fashion-forward” look, the performer also enjoys turning back the clock.

The actor learned from the '80s

Caleb McLaughlin may have developed a reputation as a fashion figure of his generation, but he also enjoys dipping his toes into the culture of past generations. Speaking to Broadway World in September 2016, the Stranger Things star relayed his favorite parts about playing a character from the past. “Just being in the ’80s and getting to experience new things … I loved the clothing [and] the hairstyles, and just being on set every day with all of the wonderful actors,” he said.

The actor revisited the ’80s for another project (more on which one later), and he told the HuffPost in January 2017 how exciting it was to rehash how his parents grew up. “I never really thought that I would be doing a bunch of ’80s stuff … I get to learn more than my era and I can learn from people’s mistakes back then,” McLaughlin said to the HuffPost. “And I get to relive my parents’ childhood.”

McLaughlin enjoyed reliving the ’80s while filming, but is not a fan of talking Stranger Things while working on other projects. He told Decider in April 2021 that he had zero interest in talking about his character Lucas Sinclair while working on Concrete Cowboy. “None of that Demogorgon and fantasy stuff right now! This is some real-life stuff I need to get into,” the young star said.

Keep reading to see which famous singer from the ’80s McLaughlin played, and what that revealed about his love life.

Caleb McLaughlin is a self-described ladies man

Caleb McLaughlin went back to the ’80s when he played singer Ricky Bell in BET’s The New Edition story biopic mini-series. The actor, who attended the Harley School of the Arts as a student, told the HuffPost in January 2017 that he was able to impress the project’s director and producer with not only his singing chops but his dance moves. In preparation for the role, McLaughlin had direct access to the New Edition singer he portrayed on-screen. “I would call him and ask him some questions,” the actor told the HuffPost. “That kid @calebrmclaughl1 is making me look good!” Bell tweeted out when the mini-series aired.

Being talented at singing and dancing were not the only things McLaughlin and Bell had in common. “I sing and I dance, but he’s a ladies man,” the Stranger Things star told the HuffPost. “And I’m a ladies man too, but I’m not as slick and smooth as he is. But I became to be more slick and smooth as he is by learning the character.”

McLaughlin was asked point-blank about his dating life in January 2020 while on the red carpet of the SAG Awards. While being interviewed by Access the actor was asked if was dating anybody at the time. “I mean ya, of course … I mean, I don’t have a girlfriend,” he responded slyly.

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