The Most Disturbing Details From Netflix's Dancing For The Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult

The two sisters seemed inseparable. They had managed to become Internet famous on TikTok as the Wilking Sisters after moving from Detroit to Los Angeles and racking up millions of followers. But then the older of the two, Miranda, suddenly cut ties with her sister Melanie and the rest of her family in January 2021, they alleged. Miranda and her now husband, James "BDash" Derrick, who is also a dancer, are members of Shekinah Church, a Christian organization in Santa Ana. It was founded by Robert Shinn, who also owns 7M Films — the company that represents the couple and other dancers on social media.

For years there have been allegations against Shinn, who former church members and dancers claim has bilked his followers, ordered them to cut ties with family, sexually assaulted others, and generally exerted control over their lives. Like the NXIVM cult, which found and lured its victims by disguising itself as a marketing enterprise and self-help group, 7M Films and Shinn's Shekinah Church are getting the Netflix documentary treatment. The three-part docuseries is called "Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult" and released May 29, 2024.

A TikTok to cult pipeline?

The hugely popular social media short video-sharing app TikTok, invented in China by Zhang Yiming, blew up in the U.S. in 2017. It has seen its share of controversies, including the U.S. government fining it millions for violating children's privacy laws. It's also on the way to being banned over privacy fears if its parent company doesn't sell it off within nine months as of April 2024. The site was also the hunting grounds for Shinn's 7M Films, a management company focused on dancers looking to make it big on social media.

Former 7M dancers who have sued Shinn claim the pastor dominates his members' lives, from how they spend their time to where they live to controlling their finances. Kevin "Konkrete" Davis Jr., who is part of the lawsuit and left the church in 2022, described 7M as a "cult" in an interview for "Dancing for the Devil." The case is set for trial in July 2025.

Pastor Robert Shinn's alleged manipulative behavior

The story of Robert Shinn is not unlike Jaime Gomez, the dancer who founded the sex cult Buddhafield, allegedly claimed to be "enveloped in God consciousness," and controlled the cult members' personal lives. Shinn reportedly claims to be the "Man of God" and sole arbiter of who is going to heaven. In audio from the Netflix series, he claims he "cannot be defeated" and that all thoughts are either from God or the devil. Followers must tell the church's high-ranking members, called mentors, about such thoughts, and Shinn allegedly belittles church adherents during services if they fail to follow his whims.

"They are not in control of their lives," Melanie Wilking said in an Instagram Live video from February 2022 shown in the documentary. "Someone else is controlling their lives and they're all victims of this." Melanie was also briefly involved in the church before deciding there were too many "red flags," and although she discussed this with her sister, Miranda Derrick refused to leave the organization.

Dancers isolated themselves from family

Robert Shinn's religious teachings also insist church members must "die to" themselves and cut ties with their families in order to save them from hell in the afterlife. While Miranda Derrick stopped communicating with her family, she continued her career on social media. "I literally feel like my sister died," Melanie Wilking said in "Dance for the Devil" (via The Guardian). "She's everywhere, but nowhere."

Miranda Derrick has taken to her social media channels to deny being part of a cult and has since visited her family in Michigan. Her husband, James, blamed the rift in the Wilking family on the rest of the clan not liking him because he was a "poor Black man from Compton" (via The U.S. Sun). Miranda most recently attended her sister Melanie's wedding to Washington Commanders' running back Austin Ekeler. But there were no pictures of the two together, leading some to question whether the siblings have been able to repair their close bond since the Derricks remain associated with 7M Films and Shekinah Church.

Church members alleged abuse

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of "Dancing for the Devil" revolves around two other sisters who were members of the Shekinah Church years before Melanie Wilking and Miranda Derrick became embroiled in the controversial world of Robert Shinn. Priscylla and Melanie Lee were young Korean immigrants when they joined his church in 2001. Both women alleged that Shinn repeatedly sexually assaulted them. The police have not charged the producer with any crimes, although Priscylla has filed a police report, as have two other alleged victims.

Melanie escaped the church in 2011, but Priscylla remained a member all the way up to the production of "Dancing for the Devil." Melanie was worried about even being involved in the series. "She expressed that she has her sister still in there, and feared for her," the documentary's executive producer Jessica Acevedo told CNN. But as the docuseries came together, Priscylla also left the church and told her story.

Robert Shinn denies the allegations

The Lee sisters, who Robert Shinn is suing for defamation, are not alone in their allegations. Kylie Douglas, a dancer who is part of the lawsuit involving the producer, accused him of sexual battery for "hip thrusting at her from behind" and has also filed a police report in the matter (per Rolling Stone). Over the course of the ensuing drama within the Wilking family and other controversies related to 7M Films and the Shekinah Church, Shinn's attorneys have fired back at his detractors.

"The false and sensational allegations about 7M stem directly from a dispute between 7M-represented dancer Miranda Derrick and her estranged family," a spokesperson representing Shinn told the Daily Mail. "While the recent portrayals of Dr. Robert Shinn and 7M Films have been wildly offensive and riddled with inaccuracies, those false claims will not deter 7M from supporting Miranda in whichever endeavors she chooses to pursue next," they later added. Derek Doneen, the director of "Dancing for the Devil," told The Guardian his job is merely to "start the conversation" that "ignites a debate and, hopefully, could potentially bring about meaningful change."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).