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Netflix's TikTok Doc: The Unsettling Reality Behind 'Dancing for the Devil'

The exposé investigates allegations of abuse and cult activity against social media management firm 7M Films.

Aaron Pruner Writer
Aaron covers what's exciting and new in the world of home entertainment and streaming TV. Previously, he wrote about entertainment for places like Rotten Tomatoes, Inverse, TheWrap and The Hollywood Reporter. Aaron is also an actor and stay-at-home dad, which means coffee is his friend.
Aaron Pruner
4 min read
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Melanie Wilking and Miranda Derrick in Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult on Netflix.

Netflix

The world of a social media influencer is full of ups and downs. One minute you could be struggling to get views on a cute dance video, and the next may find that you're the subject of an eye-opening Netflix documentary. Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult is that doc. 

The three-episode docuseries shines a light on the journey of viral dance star Miranda Derrick. Before making it big in Hollywood, Derrick and her sister, Melanie, took their dance skills to social media, performing on TikTok as the Wilking Sisters. When she moved to Los Angeles, Derrick, who's now married to dance partner James "BDash" Derrick, met a group of like-minded influencers with whom she created a slew of fun dance videos. 

As her profile rose, communication with family was allegedly severed, prompting concerns about her well-being. Rumors of abuse swirled. Cult allegations against her management company 7M Films and its owner, Robert Shinn, the pastor of a mysterious religious organization called Shekinah Church, soon followed.

The first three episodes of Dancing for the Devil focus on Derrick and the group of TikTokers under Shinn's guidance, the allegations against 7M Films, its associated Shekinah Church and the steps the Wilking family, along with former church members, are taking to find closure. The drama behind the doc continues to unfold, though, leaving many to wonder if more episodes will be in the popular Netflix documentary's future.

Read more: TikTok Is Changing the Way You Discover Music. Meet the Young Creators Making It Happen

What is Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult about?

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Miranda Derrick, James "BDash" Derrick and Melanie Wilking in Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult on Netflix.

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. 

Attention toward Shinn, his management company and church kicked up in 2022 when Wilking and her parents posted a video on Instagram Live about their personal family matters. After their lawsuit against Shekinah and 7M failed, they resorted to going public and accused 7M and Shekinah Church of being a cult. In the video, the family said that they "aren't allowed to contact" Derrick and that she blocked them on all social media, and they talked about other dancers in her crew that they said could have been under Shinn's influence. 

Since its premiere, Dancing for the Devil has flipped the social media dance world on its head. Could a cult be operating amid this landscape of content creators and viral TikTok dancers? The Netflix doc alleges so. 

Derrick and 7M Films have since posted responses on Instagram, refuting the claims put forth in the documentary.
"I believe that this documentary is a one-sided story," Derrick said in an Instagram story, according to People. "I gave my life to Jesus Christ in 2020 and asked my family for some space in the very beginning to collect my thoughts and process my new walk I wanted to take with God."

This isn't the first time allegations have been made regarding Shinn's businesses and religious teachings. The connection between 7M Films and Shekinah Church was previously explored by The Daily Beast, which said the church had a "bare bones presence online." 

The Wilking family's social media post created a domino effect that led to the exit of three dancers from Shekinah and 7M, with the trio joining a new lawsuit against Shinn, alleging abuses of power and cultlike behavior. 

According to Rolling Stone, the dancers -- Aubrey Fisher-Greene, Kylie Douglas and Kevin "Konkrete" Davis -- added to the cross-complaint submitted to court in early 2023, saying: "Robert refers to himself as 'the Man of God' and preaches to Shekinah members ... that without submitting to him and without Shekinah, their lives will be cursed. Robert required full physical and economic ... control over Shekinah members."

Like previous documentaries of a similar ilk, Dancing for the Devil explores how alleged cults can attract people and the ways groups such as these maintain control over their members.

"I think audiences will be surprised by how easily regular people can get sucked into cult-like groups and how devastating the impact can be on families, friends, and communities," Derek Doneen, the director of Dancing for the Devil, revealed to Netflix's Tudum site. "I'm in awe of the families who let us in as they worked tirelessly to rescue their loved ones."

The TikTok Cult doc looks at Shekinah Church's history 

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Kelly and Dean Wilking in Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult on Netflix.

Netflix

Shekinah Church opened its doors in 1991. According to a court case filed back in 2009, Shinn's alleged behavior and the accusations against him and the church can be traced back decades.

The Cut reported that Lydia Chung, a former Shekinah member, made a formal complaint against the pastor for "exerting undue influence, mind control, coercive persuasion, oppression and other intimidating tactics including taking over her email, passwords, and bank accounts, in an effort to get her to turn over millions of dollars that Chung says were used by Shinn and his family to pay for entertainment, living expenses, medical bills and Shinn's girlfriend's law school tuition." 

Dancing for the Devil digs into the church's history and these past allegations, and connects them with Shekinah's present-day position. Like Chung, the dancers suing 7M say that Shinn used control tactics to siphon money to feed his extravagant lifestyle. 

There's been plenty of speculation about Shinn's alleged deeds over the years, but solid details about 7M, Shekinah and the TikTok dancers he's affiliated with, have remained slim. Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult aims to shed some much needed light on the topic.