The Story Behind 'Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult'

Almost every internet personality creating content on social media has the same goal: become a TikTok star by making posts that hopefully go viral and earn money. The major challenge facing all of them is figuring out how to sustain that popularity and translate it into a prosperous career. That’s where management companies come in—they play a part by helping creators devise posting plans and finding publicity opportunities. At least, that’s what they are supposed to do.

The documentary series Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult, now streaming on Netflix, traces the formation of the management company 7M Films by founder, Robert Shinn, who is also a Shekinah church pastor. Over three episodes, Dancing for the Devil reveals claims from multiple former 7M members about how Shinn abused and manipulated them and created a cult-like environment.

The series largely focuses on the stories of two different pairs of sisters who worked with Shinn—the influencers Melanie Wilking and Miranda Derrick (formerly Wilking) and Melanie and Priscylla Lee. The Lee sisters came to know Shinn after joining his Shekinah church in 1999 as young Korean immigrants. They integrated themselves into the church community and began living in a house with other church members. Melanie Lee eventually escaped the home and left the church, trying to bring her sister with her, but Priscylla refused to leave—causing them to be separated for a decade.

Shinn founded 7M in 2021 and the lines between his church and the talent management company have always been blurry. Melanie Wilking and her parents first brought attention to the darker side of 7M in a 40-minute Instagram Live in 2022, in which they tried to reach out to Miranda, saying they had not being in touch with her for years. The family shares tearfully in Dancing for the Devil that Miranda joined a “religious organization” in late 2019 and was told to cut them out of her life.

Dancing for the Devil explores how Shinn used his influence as a pastor to form a TikTok dance management company. The series also shows how Wilking’s Instagram Live became the catalyst for multiple publications to investigate 7M, giving former members and their families a chance to share their stories.

Here’s everything you need to know about Dancing for the Devil: The 7M TikTok Cult.

How Robert Shinn went from Shekinah Church to 7M Films

Robert Shinn's LA-based Shekinah church started out small, Melanie Lee explains in the series. “There were maybe 15 people, and that included his family and his sister Catherine’s family,” she says. She adds that Robert and Catherine “promised” her and Priscylla all of the love the two of them “never really experienced.” Over the years, Shinn opened several businesses, including a café, two mortgage companies, two real estate companies, and two flower shops. Lee says in the documentary that employees of these businesses were made up of members of the Shekinah church. She says the employees were paid very little (she was paid $100 a week) and worked 12-hour shifts.

Shinn’s interests shifted following a failed attempt as a Hollywood executive producer—and he began the management company 7M Films and found the dancers, including Miranda, on social media. He saw them as a new revenue stream.

Through 7M, Shinn was able to get the dancers in his management company opportunities like commercials, bookings on The Ellen Show, and dancing at the Los Angeles Clippers games. He still led the Shekinah congregation, which included many of his clients, whom he bragged about during his sermons. Dancing for the Devil details how the influencers on his roster sought out Shinn's approval by proving they would do whatever it took to get his attention.

The series also details Shinn's controversial practices as a leader. Former members have accused him of sexual, emotional, and financial abuse. Shinn, 7M, and Shekinah Church did not participate in the documentary series. He has denied sexually abusing members of the company or the church.

Why 7M members had to cut off their families

One of Shinn’s most controversial practices was telling his followers that they needed to “die to” themselves and their families. One former 7M dancer explains the concept in the first episode: “Dying to yourself means that whatever you want or whatever you need, you have to ‘die to it,’ because whenever you die to something, it’ll come back to life and resurrect.”

Another former 7M dancer adds that they were taught to “die to your family in order to save them,” referring to the chance of them “getting into heaven one day.”

We see this “dying to your family” play out with the Wilking sisters. In the series, Melanie Wilking explains that she and her sister were inseparable until Miranda joined 7M, even going so far as to get married without telling her family.

Miranda is now in contact with her family after Shinn changed his tune in July 2022, following the departure of multiple 7M dancers from the company. He suggested that it would be better for 7M congregants to be in contact with their families.

Where Robert Shinn and 7M stand now

Shinn, who has previously denied the allegations made against him, has not faced any formal criminal charges in connection with 7M. The company continues to produce content with Miranda and her husband.

According to CNN, Shinn filed a defamation and trade libel suit against former church members who claimed he is running a “cult.” Three of the former 7M dancers joined the “a cross-complaint with the former church members against Shinn, his wife, their entities and other affiliated individuals.” In the suit they accuse the defendants of “fraud, forced labor and human trafficking, as well as Robert of sexual battery.” This suit is ongoing and is expected to go to trial in July 2025.

Write to Moises Mendez II at