A new Netflix docuseries unravels what it calls a ‘cult’ for TikTok dancers | CNN (2024)

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Over two years ago, a 40-minute-long public plea made on Instagram Live rippled across social media. In the video, TikTok dancer Melanie Wilking and her parents claimed they had lost all contact with her 25-year-old sister, Miranda — now, Miranda Derrick — to a “religious organization” and that she was “no longer in control” of her life.

Melanie and Miranda had performed together as the Wilking Sisters, but the family said Derrick had disappeared from their lives. She was still living in the public eye, however, including announcing a marriage to fellow dancer James Derrick (known as BDash).

Until then, it’s unlikely that Derrick’s millions of followers would have noticed anything amiss, based on her social media accounts. The Los Angeles-based dancer was regularly posting feel-good, polished videos of modern choreography to throwbacks hits with BDash and a small-knit group of fellow dancers and creators. She had walked the red carpet at the American Music Awards in November 2021, and just days before her family shared their video message, appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

A new Netflix docuseries unravels what it calls a ‘cult’ for TikTok dancers | CNN (1)

Melanie Wilking and Miranda Derrick (formerly Wilking) built up a following together on social media platforms including YouTube and TikTok as the Wilking Sisters.

But in the time since, reports from multiple publications, including The Cut and Rolling Stone, as well as an ongoing lawsuit, and now, a Netflix documentary, have revealed troubling claims about the mysterious religious organization the Derricks joined, and how it allegedly doubles as a talent management company called 7M Films.

In the new three-part docuseries “Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult,” the Wilking family is joined by a handful of dancers formerly represented by 7M Films — who are in civil litigation with its co-owner and CEO, Robert Shinn — to speak up about their experiences. They include Kevin “Konkrete” Davis, who rose to fame in the dance community alongside BDash, Aubrey Fisher and Kylie Douglas. Davis, Fisher and Douglas collaborated with the Derricks regularly on dance videos during their time with 7M and had amassed millions of combined followers across TikTok and Instagram.

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Shinn, an LA pastor — whose son, Isaiah Shinn, films the Derricks’ content — founded 7M alongside his long-running Shekinah Church; “Dancing for the Devil” asserts the two entities are one and the same, with Shinn and his wife, Hannah, enriching themselves from their church members and talent while isolating them from their previous lives. (7M Films made a public statement in 2022 asserting that it is “operate(d) separately and apart” from Shekinah Church.)

According to the series, which also features former members of the church, Shinn first began Shekinah as a religious community for Korean Americans, then founded 7M as an off-shoot business for Internet-famous dancers, promising them fame and wealth in addition to religious salvation. First-hand accounts and recordings of Shinn’s sermons detail how he asked members to “die to” their families, or cut them off, in order to save their loved ones in the afterlife. Wilking, too, had attended dinners hosted by Shinn along with her sister, but, sensing red flags, she declined to go to his invite-only church services, she explained in the series.

A new Netflix docuseries unravels what it calls a ‘cult’ for TikTok dancers | CNN (4)

Kylie Douglas is one of the dancers who left 7M. She is now part of a group of dancers and ex-church members in civil litigation with Shinn and his entities.

“It was an opportunity to tell a story in real time — an active story that was still unfolding in front of our eyes,” said the docuseries’ director, Derek Doneen, in a video interview with CNN. “Before we started shooting, the (featured) dancers were still in (the organization).” Many of the people who became subjects in the show were people that we didn’t ever really know if we’d get the opportunity to meet and talk to and feature.”

Twin stories, broken families

“Dancing for the Devil” largely follows the parallel stories of two pairs of sisters who were allegedly separated by Shinn’s organizations: Wilking and Derrick, and Melanie and Priscylla Lee. The latter two joined Shekinah as young immigrants in 1999 and became dependent on it for housing and work (Priscylla has since changed her last name to Leigh). They lost contact for years when Melanie left the church — with the help of a friend — and Priscylla stayed.

“For (Melanie Lee) to come forward — I’m just so appreciative of her strength and trust in us,” said the documentary’s executive producer Jessica Acevedo, explaining that she was initially wary. “She expressed that she has her sister still in there, and (she) feared for her.” Over the course of production, Priscylla left Shekinah, too, and shared her story.

A new Netflix docuseries unravels what it calls a ‘cult’ for TikTok dancers | CNN (5)

Priscylla and Melanie Lee joined Shekinah Church when they were young — Priscylla spent 23 years on and off in the church, and Melanie lost contact with her when she left.

A new Netflix docuseries unravels what it calls a ‘cult’ for TikTok dancers | CNN (6)

The Lee sisters are now in litigation with Shinn and are still coming to terms with how their lives were impacted by the church.

The Shinn family and the Derricks did not participate in the docuseries, though Miranda has stated on social media that she is “not in a cult.” BDash described 7M as a “secular for profit company run by people who have faith in God,” in his own statement. “It is their job to manage/control our bookings or schedules… That is not a cult activity, it’s called doing business.”

“Is it wrong for Christians to be involved in a non faith based entertainment business?” he continued. “If 7M was run by (an) unbeliever, then is it no longer a cult?”

The Derricks and a lawyer for Robert and Hannah Shinn did not return CNN’s request for comment.

A new Netflix docuseries unravels what it calls a ‘cult’ for TikTok dancers | CNN (7)

Miranda and James "BDash" Derrick at the Grammy Awards last year. They have maintained through social media posts that Miranda's issues with her family are a personal dispute.

The Derricks have also previously refuted claims that she is being kept from her family, framing the situation instead as a personal family dispute. In 2022, a lawyer for 7M Films told Rolling Stone: “It is pathetic and contemptible to try to turn her (Miranda’s) private family matters into a tawdry public scandal for clicks and clout.”

In 2022, Shinn filed a lawsuit claiming defamation and trade libel against several former church members, including the Lee sisters, that alleges the defendants made “false statements” referring to Shinn’s organizations as a cult, and launched a campaign to “cancel” Shinn “through flagrant, defamatory attacks on social and other media.” The following year, Davis, Fisher and Douglas, among others, joined a cross-complaint with the former church members against Shinn, his wife, their entities and other affiliated individuals. The claims accuse them of fraud, forced labor and human trafficking, as well as Robert of sexual battery. The case is scheduled to go to trial in July 2025 in Los Angeles; to date, no criminal charges have been filed.

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Today, Derrick is back in contact with her family, occasionally documenting their holidays together on her social media accounts — though the docuseries alleges this is mostly for optics, and that she is still close to Shinn. Derrick did not return CNN’s request for comment about this allegation.

For members who do leave Shinn’s organizations, the documentary makers learned it’s not an easy path, as they follow Priscylla’s struggle to adapt to a new life outside of the church and her pursuit of justice.

“You don’t come out healed; you don’t come out necessarily disavowing many of the teachings,” Doneen said. “That was a bit of a learning curve for me to understand. Once you’re out, it is day one of a very long journey — a very long road to recovery.”

Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult” is available on Netflix on May 29.

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Through daily livestreams on YouTube, the conspiracy-influenced New Age group Love Has Won, led by a former McDonald’s manager Amy Carlson, recruited members and sold supplements to keep itself afloat. This Max docuseries charts Carlson’s life and death; known as “Mother God,” she died from multiple causes in 2021 including long-term ingestion of colloidal silver, which LHW promoted as a panacea.

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A new Netflix docuseries unravels what it calls a ‘cult’ for TikTok dancers | CNN (2024)


What is the TikTok dance cult? ›

She has been sucked into a religious cult called the Shekinah Church. This particular cult embodies and capitalises on the peculiar madness of our age. It specialises in recruiting kids who perform viral internet dance routines.

Who left the 7M cult? ›

(NewsNation) — Dancer Aubrey Fisher, “7M Films” CEO Robert Shinn's former client, is sharing his story after escaping an alleged TikTok dancing cult.

What is the 7M cult about? ›

“Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult” debuted last week on the streaming platform, with three in-depth episodes documenting the Wilking family's struggle with their daughter's entanglement with an an alleged cult led by Robert Shinn.

Is Miranda Derrick still at 7M? ›

Miranda Derrick, née Wilking, has been a member of the church since 2020. She and her husband, James Derrick, have been linked since 2021 and are managed by 7M.

What is the point of TikTok dances? ›

TikTok dances are enjoyed by many people of different ages, backgrounds, and interests. However, they are particularly popular among younger generations, including teenagers and young adults. Many people enjoy learning and performing TikTok dances as a form of entertainment, self-expression, and creativity.

What is the meaning of cult dance? ›

Cult dances were essential to worshipping the gods in Egypt. Just as the gods required food, clothing, and incense, they expected dances to be performed periodically at festivals.

What is going on with Miranda Derrick? ›

Miranda Derrick garnered attention due to the allegations her family made in a video posted to Instagram in 2022, accusing 7M of exerting unhealthy control over its dancers. Melanie Wilking, Derrick's sister, is also a popular dancer on TikTok and was at the center of the video that raised questions about 7M.

What is Dancing with the Devil about Netflix? ›

Similar to the recent docuseries that explored the inner-workings of groups like NXIVM and Scientology, Dancing for the Devil examines the alleged cult activity associated with 7M Films and Shekinah Church -- the interlinked companies that manage a group of TikTok performers.

How many cult members are there? ›

Dr. Singer estimates that there are 2,500 to 3,000 cults in the United States, ''with dozens of small cults too numerous to keep track of. '' The number of cult members nationally is variously estimated at 300,000 to three million. Dr.

Who is Miranda Derek? ›

Derrick, also known by her maiden name Miranda Wilking, is a dancer and influencer signed to 7M Films, where she makes videos.

What is the silent hill cult? ›

Silent Hill is home to a cult known as the Order, which may return in Bloober Team's Silent Hill 2 remake and whose God is said to be nurtured by hatred. The Order is divided into four sects, and at least one of the sects plays the role of antagonist in Silent Hill games as they search for a way to bring Paradise.

What is the Shekinah church? ›

In court documents cited by Rolling Stone, Shinn described the Shekinah group as “small and tight-knit group of Christian believers committed to spreading their religious message through peaceful religious study and outreach.” Courtesy of Netflix. Beauty. Entertainment.

Which dancers are in 7M? ›

All of the dancers from Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult
  • Miranda Wilking. View full post on Instagram. ...
  • James Derrick. View full post on Instagram. ...
  • Konkrete. View full post on Instagram. ...
  • Kailea Gray. View full post on Instagram. ...
  • Kylie Douglas. View full post on Instagram. ...
  • Raino. View full post on Instagram.
May 28, 2024

Who is Miranda Derek boyfriend? ›

Miranda and James Derrick's relationship has come under the spotlight with the release of Netflix's Dancing for the Devil. The dancers first met in April 2019, and their relationship quickly escalated as they spent time together during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Has Miranda left 7M? ›

Derrick has made no public announcement to suggest that she has left, however both she and her husband James 'BDash' Derrick (also previously affiliated with 7M) no longer make reference to 7M or Shekinah in their bios on Instagram. Both still follow and are followed by 7M's Instagram page.

What was the dancing plague cult? ›

Dancing mania (also known as dancing plague, choreomania, St. John's Dance, tarantism and St. Vitus' Dance) was a social phenomenon that may have had biological causes, which occurred primarily in mainland Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries.

What is the Dancing for the Devil documentary about? ›

The documentary, which premiered last week, centers on TikTok talent management company 7M Films and the Shekinah Church. It includes interviews with former 7M clients who allege that both the company and church are a cult.

What is the Ghost Face Cult on TikTok? ›

Here's how you can participate in the Ghostface Cult.

Then, all you need to do is follow accounts that have the same profile picture as yours. As you begin to follow more people on the platform, the idea is that you will also receive a significant number of followers in return.

What is the minion cult on TikTok? ›

The Minion Cult is a group of people who are fans of the creatures from the Despicable Me franchise. Users who are part of the cult have changed their profile pictures to a picture of a person dressed in a Minion costume, and post content related to the characters on their page.

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