A Meghan Markle Film, Brainwashing Claims and a Failed 4M Suit: Inside TikTok Dance Crew Being Called a Cult

Daily Beast/March 19, 2022

By Cheyenne Roundtree

While TikTok influencer Miranda Derrick was celebrating her 25th birthday last month with a cheesy little dance routine to Baby Give it Up, across town in Los Angeles, her sister Melanie Wilking and parents were about to go public with a story they had been holding onto for the past year.

The once tight-knit family claimed they had not been able to speak directly to Miranda since January 2021, when she packed up her things and joined a mysterious management company called 7M Films. Claiming that their options were exhausted, the Wilkings decided the only way to reach their eldest daughter was to go public.

“It’s been haunting us for over a year now,” Melanie began in a video posted on Instagram on Feb. 24, as her tearful parents, Kelly and Dean Wilking, nodded beside her. “It’s definitely been the hardest year of my life.”

Uncovering who is behind 7M Films reveals a pastor for Shekinah Church, Robert Shinn, who allegedly teaches a spinoff of a belief about preparation for the end of days and owns or is affiliated with several interconnecting companies, including a production group responsible for a Meghan Markle movie.

A former member of Shekinah Church, who lost a lawsuit against Shinn in which she alleged he swindled her out of $4 million, has issued a dire warning for those who have been lured into the group—urging them to stay away. “Especially young people who don't have that much experience,” Lydia Chung told The Daily Beast. “I mean, you will totally ruin your life.”

In a statement provided to The Daily Beast on behalf of 7M Films, Miranda and her husband James Derrick, and the pastor of Shekinah Church, a representative said while the Derricks were members of the church, the business dealings of 7M Films were separate from the church. They denied being a cult, and equated the Wilkings’ claims against Miranda and the church as a family dispute.

“Miranda Derrick is a successful businesswoman and a loving wife and daughter who cares very much about her family,” the representative said. “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.”

Miranda and Melanie were the duo behind the Wilking Sisters on TikTok and Instagram, racking up more than 2 million followers through short dance routines to trending songs, such as The Pussycat Dolls’ “Buttons,” and Kesha’s “Blah Blah Blah”. They landed sponcon deals and often collaborated with other TikTok dancers, including Talin Silva, and even got the app’s biggest star, Addison Rae, to pop up in one of their videos.

The Wilkings claim that Miranda severed all ties to her family after effectively being “brainwashed” by those involved in 7M Films, which bills itself as a “multifaceted organization” that serves as both a production company and an influencer management firm. Dancers under its management pump out content almost daily, dancing almost exclusively with other members to short, choreographed numbers at a $15 million mansion and around Los Angeles, with a steady stream of partnerships with M.A.C. Cosmetics, Reebok, and Sally Hansen rolling through.

But to the Wilkings, 7M Films is more like a cult. (The Wilkings did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for further comment.)

“Towards the end, things got weird,” Melanie said, explaining that she also had been recruited by the invitation-only group, but decided to steer clear after witnessing several red flags. “She was gone all the time, she wouldn’t tell me where she was. It was not like her. It was a total change of character.”

“We have [tried to contact authorities] and what’s so sad, churches—which is good in most cases, but not this—churches are very protected in the state of California and they are all adults,” Melanie added. “We can’t find anything illegal happening besides complete brainwashing, which you can’t really prove.”

The video quickly spread online, leading Miranda and her new husband James Derrick—who is also a dancer and member of 7M Films—to defend themselves, while Miranda claimed that she had spoken to her family within the past year and the disagreement stemmed over her relationship with Derrick.

On his own account, Derrick insinuated that the Wilkings disapproved of him because he was Black, financially unstable, divorced, and a father. (The family refuted this, pointing out that Melanie is also dating a Black man.) He then went on to defend 7M Films, praising it for helping him become successful quickly. “This company is not a religious non-profit organization but a secular for-profit company run by people who have faith in God,” Derrick added. “It is their job to manage/control our bookings or schedules. That is not a cult activity. It’s called doing business,” he said.

However, according to corporation filings, 7M Films does have a deep connection to a religious organization called Shekinah Church International—a Los Angeles-based church established in 1994 that has a bare bones presence online.

The church seems to have no set service times, no social media accounts, and no physical church venue, just a Santa Ana office space that also houses 7M Films, according to corporation filings.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.