Caleb McLaughlin is stepping back into the ’80s — only this time he’s doing it in BET’s The New Edition Story.
The six-hour event series sees McLaughlin — who played Lucas on Netflix’s summer hit Stranger Things — step into the role of Ricky Bell, one of the six members of the iconic ’80s boy band, during his teen years.
“It’s cool to play a smooth, cool character. He’s very smart, very laid back. Nothing bothered him,” McLaughlin tells EW of taking on the role. “[But] it’s Ricky before he became confident in himself.”
Of course, playing a young Ricky Bell requires a lot of singing — evidenced by the exclusive clip above — as the group began touring to promote their first album, Candy Girl. So McLaughlin needed to find (and channel) that same feeling in himself.
“Singing is always fun to do. But when I sing, I really mean it,” says McLaughlin of the nerve-wracking experience. “So instead of worrying about the cameras around me and what people think, I had to really get into a place of being Ricky and singing like him.”
Luckily for the young actor he was able to ask the real Ricky Bell for advice.
“He was a mentor,” says McLaughlin of their relationship. “Not just because of his character, [but] just the way life is in the business and how to be smart and do the right things. I still keep in contact with him now.”
The New Edition Story premieres Jan. 24-26 on BET.