TikToker Miranda Derrick Says Her Life Is “In Danger” After Dancing for the Devil Cult Allegations

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TikToker Miranda Derrick Addresses Cult Allegations in ‘Dancing for the Devil’ Docuseries

Miranda Derrick is seeing the dark side of the internet.

The TikToker has been at the center of attention since the May release of Netflix’s docuseries Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult, in which her family alleged she had cut ties with them three years ago after joining the talent management company 7M Films.

The organization—which Miranda joined alongside her husband James Derrick—was founded by Robert Shinn, a Los Angeles-based pastor with ties to the controversial Shekinah Church.

“Before this documentary, my husband and I, we felt safe,” Miranda said in a June 10 Instagram video. “Now that this documentary is out, we feel like our lives have been put in danger.”

The 27-year-old went on to detail how both she and James have been followed in their cars, as well as the hate mail and death threats they’ve received.

“Someone said that, ‘If I see you on the street, I’m going to come and gut you so you better get security,'” she shared. “Someone also said that, ‘If I see you walking on the sidewalk, I’m going to come and shove you in the trunk of my car.'”

In addition, Miranda noted that the documentary has driven a further wedge in her complicated relationship with her parents and sister Melanie Wilking.

“Honestly, I don’t understand how my parents and my sister thought that this documentary would help me,” she said, “or would help our relationship in any way.”

Amy Sussman/Getty Images

As discussed in the docuseries, the family has been trying to rebuild their relationship with Miranda, who they said reconnected with them last year after a lengthy silence. But following the documentary, Miranda said she feels hurt over their involvement with the project.

“Things are a little slower and I’m not posting as much,” she explained to her fans. “Just bear with me, I’m getting through this. I see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

While Miranda believes that the documentary is a “one-sided story,” her sister has a different take.

“They were reached out to many times,” Melanie told Access Hollywood of Miranda and James, 35. “And declined every time.”

Instagram/Miranda Derrick

The 25-year-old also refuted Miranda’s claims that the family was not supportive of her religious views, which focused more on God shortly after the influencer joined 7M in 2020.

“I went to two of their private dinners and two of the services that you have to be invited to, and I picked up on all these red flags,” Melanie said. “So, when she’s saying that we weren’t supportive, it was because I was seeing what she wasn’t seeing.”

Melanie, who is also a TikToker, alleged that the organization “wanted to rip us apart” after she stopped showing up to their events.

“And sure enough,” she noted, “look where we are.”

In a June 4 statement to E! News, 7M Films called the docuseries “a slanderous work of fiction, born from a failed extortion attempt, and invented for the sole purpose of gaining fame and fortune.”

“We will continue to pursue all legal remedies available to stop the spread of salacious lies,” the statement continued, “and expect to be fully vindicated in court.”

E! News has reached out to Shekinah Church for comment on the docuseries but has not heard back. Netflix declined to comment when reached by E!.

Curious to know more about Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult? Keep reading.

Melanie Wilking/Instagram

The Wilking Family Goes Live

“‘Are you in a cult?'” dancer Miranda Derrick asked in a 2022 TikTok, reading a commenter’s question out loud. “No, I’m not in a cult. I’m in a house.”

At the time, the 27-year-old was weighing in on the viral reaction to accusations made by her sister Melanie Wilking, 25, and parents Kelly and Dean Wilking. The trio had gone live on Instagram Feb. 24, 2022, to lament that Miranda had “cut off all ties” and they were out of options, other than to take their concerns public.

The trio asked for help from anyone who used to be a part of pastor Robert Shinn‘s Shekinah Church or the talent management company he founded, 7M Films.

Melanie “has been our rock,” Kelly said in the video, “but we have two daughters. We don’t just have one, and we will not stop fighting for the other one.”

E! News reached out to Miranda—who’s married to dancer James “BDash” Derrick—for comment on her family’s characterization of their relationship in the series and the current state of her affiliation with Shekinah and 7M, but did not hear back.

Miranda Derrick and James Derrick at the 2023 Grammy Awards (Jon Kopaloff/WireImage)

Miranda Derrick Pushes Back

In addition to denying that she was involved in a cult, after her family put 7M on blast Miranda posted a statement—”speaking for James and our friends who are in 7M,” she wrote—that it was a “complete lie” to say they weren’t speaking with their families.

“It is just a unique situation with my family where I don’t speak to them as often as before,” she continued, “because who would want to speak with people who completely disagree with you and who don’t respect you?”

In March 2022, a spokesperson for 7M told The Daily Beast in a statement, “The false and sensational allegations about 7M stem directly from a dispute between 7M-represented dancer Miranda Derrick and her estranged family. Despite her family’s claims, Miranda is a successful businesswoman and a loving wife and daughter who cares very much about her family. It is pathetic and contemptible to try to turn her private family matters into a tawdry public scandal for clicks and clout.”

The statement called the “recent portrayals” of Robert and 7M in the wake of the Wilkings’ video “wildly offensive and riddled with inaccuracies.”

“Dancing for the Devil” (Netflix)

Where Shekinah Comes In

Miranda moved to L.A. from their native Detroit right after high school to pursue her dream of dancing professionally and Melanie joined her big sister right after graduation. They used to post their routines and other upbeat slice-of-life videos on their Wilking Sisters social media accounts and YouTube channel.

“It’s hard for me to even remember, honestly, because it’s just so different now,” Melanie said in the series. “I miss my sister so much. I still love dance, but I feel like it’s just different…It was Miranda and I together on this journey, and now I’m alone.”

They were building their own following when, in April 2019, the sisters got a DM from James, an up-and-coming krumper who performed as BDash, according to Melanie. For awhile they all texted, she said, until eventually Miranda and James were in a chat just for two.

Miranda started going to Shekinah with James, Melanie said. The youger sibling recalled meeting pastor Robert when she was invited to a group dinner at his house in the fall of 2020.

Netflix

Melanie, Out

At the dinner, Melanie said in the series, Robert asked if she considered herself a sinner, adding, “‘What if I told you, you have already sinned a thousand times today?'”

He then said, according to Melanie, “‘Well, you have, and if you died right now, you would go to hell. But we’ll help you.'”

Then they sat in a circle and held hands, she continued, and Robert put his hands on her head and “everyone was kind of speaking in tongues.”

Melanie said she wondered at the time if perhaps this was normal church stuff and, since all of these dancers she admired were there, “maybe this is a thing.”

Aubrey Fisher in “Dancing for the Devil” (Netflix)

A Tight-Knit Group

The dancers who gravitated toward 7M Films with James included his former krump group mate Kevin “Konkrete” Davis, as well as Aubrey FisherKylie Douglas and Kailea Gray, all of whom now count themselves as former Shekinah and 7M members and participated in the Netflix series.

Kylie Douglas in “Dancing for the Devil” (Netflix)

Dancing to 7M’s Beat

In the series, Kevin alleged they were all “perfect prey” for Robert’s promise of spiritual salvation and financial gain.

And the pastor seemed to know what he was doing as a manager, according to his former 7M clients in the series, who said Robert picked out the retro songs they danced to in their videos that would rack up millions of views. They were booking commercials and all sorts of appearances, including on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

A group of dancers moved into a residence Robert owned in Sunland, Calif., and “we were just in the house creating content,” Kailea said in the series. Also, she noted, they were invited to attend church services on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Melanie Wilking in “Dancing for the Devil” (Netflix)

This Isn’t Normal

Melanie realized Shekinah wasn’t for her, she said in Dancing for the Devil, when Robert’s daughter called one Sunday and insisted she change her plans to come to church instead. Melanie said she was rubbed the wrong way by her tone and that was it for her.

But it really hit home that something was amiss when Miranda wouldn’t fly back to Michigan after her maternal grandfather died in December 2020, the Wilking family said in the series.

When they pressed her, Miranda stopped responding to calls and texts, her parents and sister said, so they called police for a welfare check.

An officer got in touch with Miranda, who, per a recording of the call played in the series, said, “I just chose not to go home out of my own grieving purposes.” As for her worried-sounding family, she added, “They’re just not taking it well.”

Miranda and James announced their engagement in August 2021. Melanie said their family found out from social media and ultimately Miranda got “married with none of her family” present.

Kylie Douglas in “Dancing for the Devil” (Netflix)

“Dying to Yourself”

Miranda seemed “hurt and broken from leaving her family,” dancer Kylie said in the series, but she was in the process of—Kylie made air quotes with her hands—”‘dying to herself.'”

Aubrey Fisher in “Dancing With the Devil” (Netflix)

Aubrey said in the series, “‘Dying to yourself’ means that, whatever you want or whatever you need, die to it, because whenever you die to something, it’ll come back to life and resurrect.” 

Added Kylie, “That way, at least, you can follow your walk with God.” Kailea further explained, “You have to leave your family while you work on yourself, but the goal, supposedly, is to reconnect.”

Aubrey said he cut ties with his mom as part of this program, and Kylie said she did the same with her mother and grandmother. Kevin said pastor Robert instructed him to “‘die to my son,'” but that was a no-go.

“I was like, ‘OK, how do you do that?'” Kevin said in the series. “I never got an answer. I couldn’t do that. It’s like they didn’t care if we never see our family again.” 

In a clip from a sermon, Robert is heard saying, “You’re not Jesus’s disciple until you die to your loved ones.”

Kailea Gray in “Dancing for the Devil” (Netflix)

Are We in a Cult?

After Dean, Kelly and Melanie went viral airing their concerns about Miranda and Shekinah, it was open season on everyone involved via YouTube, TikTok and Instagram.

Some commenters observed that Miranda looked as if she was living her best life, so maybe it was her family who had the problem. But exponentially more people on social media—including some who claimed to know firsthand what Shekinah was like—agreed with the characterization that the church was a cult.

The dancers in the series don’t go into specifics about anything they allegedly witnessed, but they cited the response to the Wilking family’s video as what spurred them to eventually cut ties with Robert, Shekinah and 7M.

“That was the fist time we were hearing about how people were actually treated in Shekinah,” Kylie said. “I realized I could be in an unsafe environment.” 

Kevin added, “We realized we’d seen some weird stuff.”

Aubrey recalled Robert changing course in the wake of the Wilking video, telling the dancers to get back in touch with their families—and make sure they posted about it on social media.

Recalling the mini-exodus from Shekinah in 2022, Kailea said in the series, “There’s no way that all these close people to you are leaving and nothing happened. There has to be truth to everything else going on. Everybody can’t be lying.”

Melanie Wilking in “Dancing for the Devil” (Netflix)

The Making of a Docuseries

“Like everyone else, I watched the live and was like ‘What the heck is going on here?’ and then got on the phone with the Wilkings later that evening, and we ended up talking for quite a few hours,” Dancing With the Devil executive producer Jessica Acevedo told Variety ahead of the series’ May 29 premiere.

While she and director Derek Doneen dove in pretty quickly, they needed months to earn the trust of the series’ various participants, so filming didn’t get underway till the end of 2022 and they kept crew members to a minimum.

“We were extremely nimble, and didn’t want to come in with a lot of people, or strangers that they’d never met before asking them to be vulnerable and do the things that we knew they’d be doing,” Doneen explained. “It was the people that they spent a lot of hours and a lot of days with getting to know and getting to trust already. There’s really no substitute for time. It just takes a lot of time.”

Netflix

The director also said he tried to contact Robert, his associates and other Shekinah members and/or 7M dancers mentioned in the series many times and they didn’t respond, though he did have one super-brief exchange with the pastor.

“We called all of them on the phone, left voicemails for those who didn’t pick up, texted all of them, and then sent emails as well,” Doneen said. “We did our best to give them every opportunity to participate and tell their side of the story and would have entered into those conversations with as open of a mind, that I think that we would have with any subject. We talked to Robert for all of 10 seconds, and as soon as he knew who we were, he said, ‘I have another call, I gotta go’ and hung up and never responded again.”

Priscylla Lee and Melanie Lee in “Dancing for the Devil” (Netflix)

Two Other Sisters Reunite

In Dancing for the Devil, Melanie Lee said that she left Shekinah in 2011 after 10 years, while her sister Priscylla Lee cut ties in 2022 after spending the better part of 23 years with the church.

“I was having less nightmares about my past and I was making progress, until all of this started coming up on social media,” Melanie said in the series, recalling her reaction to the Wilking video going viral in 2022. “I honestly thought I never had to talk about it again.”

“Dancing for the Devil”/Courtesy of Netflix

The Lee Sisters Explain Their Estrangement

In the show, the sisters described an environment where Robert would call out members of the congregation by name during services if they’d made some sort of mistake and the wrongdoers would be duly shunned. “He created a system where everyone was fighting for his attention,” Priscylla said. 

After Melanie left the church, Priscylla said in the series, Robert assured her that her little sister was going to hell. After that, Priscylla said her health declined and she stopped leaving her room. She attributed her illness to demons, she continued, and papered her walls with pages of Scripture. “Robert would just show up to do whatever he wanted me to do,” she said.

Melanie Lee in “Dancing for the Devil” (Netflix)

Real-Time Reconciliation

Dancing for the Devil executive producer Jessica Acevedo told CNN that, when they first spoke to Melanie Lee, the former Shekinah member said her older sister was still with the church and she “feared for her.”

Priscylla ended up leaving Shekinah during production of the series, Acevedo said. And according to both sisters, Priscylla wasn’t ready to reconnect with Melanie right away.

Melanie Lee and Priscylla Lee in “Dancing for the Devil” (Netflix)

Taking Action

Priscylla (named in court documents as Elisha Priscylla Leigh) and Melanie were among the former members on the receiving end of a lawsuit Robert filed in October 2022 alleging defamation and trade libel. Per court documents reviewed by CNN, he accused the sisters of wrongfully characterizing his church as a cult and trying to “cancel” him through “flagrant, defamatory attacks on social and other media.”

And Priscylla, Kylie, Kailea, Aubrey and Kevin are among the plaintiffs in a cross-complaint filed in March 2023 accusing Robert of operating his church like a cult.

The suit alleges Robert subjected Shekinah members “to brainwashing, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, manipulation, and exploitation,” according to a copy of the complaint reviewed by E! News.

He preached to the congregation that, “without submitting to him and without Shekinah, their lives will be cursed,” the suit contends. “Robert required full physical and economic…control over Shekinah members.”

Aubrey Fisher and Kylie Douglas in “Dancing for the Devil” (Netflix)

The Netflix series notes that Robert didn’t respond to requests for comment but has previously denied sexually abusing any Shekinah member or 7M client.

Kylie, who along with Aubrey was with 7M between 2020 and 2022, told Rolling Stone after the cross-complaint was filed, “We just no longer want him to be able to do that to anyone: the brainwashing, the manipulating, running people down—giving their time, giving their effort, giving their money, giving all they got for something that is a false hope.”

Aubrey told the magazine, “I don’t want my friends in there anymore. I don’t want anybody to be around this person. If they hate or love me or whatever, it doesn’t even matter. I just don’t want them to be a part of that environment.”

The dueling cases are scheduled to go to trial in 2025.

Dean and Kelly Wilking in “Dancing With the Devil” (Netflix)

Reunited and It Feels…Pretty Good

Miranda is in contact with her family, according to her sister and parents, though they said in the series that their communication has remained on her terms.

“We made the promise not to talk about it,” mom Kelly said, “it” being pastor Robert, Shekinah and 7M, “and we haven’t talked about it with her since.”

Austin Ekeler and Melanie Wilking (Melanie Wilking/Instagram)

A Family Affair

In any case, Miranda posted May 27 on Instagram about having “such a great time” at Melanie’s wedding two days prior, when her little sister married NFL player Austin Ekeler at the Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa.

Melanie mentioned in the series that she’d always dreamed her sister would be her maid of honor, “but right now I don’t trust that she can do that.”

Dancing for the Devil director Derek Doneen told TODAY.com it was “pretty rare to find a story that’s unfolding in real time like this.”

He said that, if Robert or anyone else still affiliated with Shekinah and 7M had agreed to participate, he would have “given them the same time and respect that I would give anybody.”

But, he added, “there’s a part of me that’s also happy that the attention is on the families and former members, because that is who we wanted to uplift.”

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