According to editors at Deadline, the British actor, who is also producing the movie, has cast the 17-year-old to play the pivotal role of teenager Cole, who is taken to live with his estranged father Harp, to be played by Elba, in North Philadelphia, where he discovers the city's urban cowboy subculture.
The movie is an adaptation of Greg Neri's 2011 novel "Ghetto Cowboy" and is also inspired by the real-life Fletcher Street Stables, a black urban horsemanship community which has existed in the city for more than 100 years.
McLaughlin began his career playing young Simba in the Broadway production of "The Lion King" before becoming known for his character Lucas Sinclair in Netflix's hit sci-fi series. He was also recently seen in Netflix sports drama "High Flying Bird".
According to a local news report in the Pennsylvania city, filming on the movie, which is being directed by Philadelphia native Ricky Staub, who is making his feature directorial debut, began at the real Fletcher Street Stables earlier this week.
Elba is producing via his Green Door Pictures banner alongside Lee Daniels, screenwriter Dan Walser and Neri, among others.
Other castmembers include Moonlight's Jharrel Jerome, who is currently nominated for an Emmy for his role in Netflix miniseries "When They See Us", "Orange is the New Black"'s Lorraine Toussaint, and "The Chi" actor Byron Bowers.