On Thursday morning, actress Samia Shoaib went on Megyn Kelly TODAY to share her experience of being wooed by top NXIVM recruiter Allison Mack. Shoaib’s story comes in the wake of Mack’s indictment, alongside alleged sex cult leader Keith Raniere, on charges of sex trafficking conspiracy, sex trafficking, and conspiracy to commit forced labor. Mack was released on a $5 million bond on Tuesday to electronically monitored house arrest.
The news that an ex-Smallville actress is being charged as a sex cult second-in-command has shed new light on old tweets, in which Mack appears to be appealing to actresses and influencers on behalf of her unique cause. Mack targeted high-profile women like Emma Watson—she @’d the A-lister multiple times, at one point writing, “I’m a fellow actress like yourself & involved in an amazing women’s movement I think you’d dig. I’d love to chat if you’re open.”
In a recent Justice Department release, U.S. attorney Richard P. Donoghue explained that, “As alleged in the indictment, Allison Mack recruited women to join what was purported to be a female mentorship group that was, in fact, created and led by Keith Raniere…The victims were then exploited, both sexually and for their labor, to the defendants’ benefit.”
Mack appeared to keep herself quite busy as a NXIVM recruiter, sending out similar social media entreaties to Rashida Jones, Kelly Clarkson, writer/director Zoe Robyn, and poet Sarah Kay.
Samia Shoaib told Page Six on Saturday that Mack targeted her after the two met at a 2013 NBC audition. Shoaib, who appeared in The Sixth Sense and Sex and the City, described Mack as “fragile and gaunt,” but admitted, “I wish I could tell you alarm bells went off, but they really didn’t. She was a very sweet girl.”
Shoaib went into more detail on Thursday, describing Mack’s attempts to recruit her to JNess, the NXIVM women’s group that Mack raved about on her personal website and in video testimonials. Shoaib told Megyn Kelly that, within days of meeting Mack, the Smallville actress had sent her “dozens of emails” and talked up her women’s movement. Mack also put Shoaib on an email list through which she received various invitations, including one to a 2015 gathering that billed Mack as a speaker and “leader of JNess.”
In retrospect, Shoaib is entirely convinced that Mack’s rapid-fire befriending was a recruitment tactic. “We got close very quickly, and looking back it was a very contrived effort, but at the time she seemed so sincere,” the actress told Kelly. While Mack didn’t go into detail about NXIVM to her new friend, she told Shoaib at the time that “she lived upstate in a communal situation.” Until recently, Rainiere and his followers reportedly lived in a “compound” north of Albany.
Shoaib recalled how Mack tapped into her vulnerabilities to try and interest her in JNess. “I’d had a traumatic experience and I was drinking too much,” she explained, “And I was looking for help with that. And [Mack and I] discussed how AA was, for me, it was a lot of male energy, and I didn’t really respond to group situations, so she said ah, I have an alternative. And she put me on the phone with a guy called Edgar, who spouted some very generic self-help stuff, and I wasn’t really impressed.”
Mack also introduced Shoaib to a woman who may have been fellow Raniere acolyte India Oxenberg. “Well, I barely remember this woman because she was very quiet and she seemed to be in awe of Allison and somewhat under her control, she didn’t speak at all,” Shoaib told Kelly. “But visually, when I saw a picture of India, it may well be her. But at that dinner, Allison was transformed into a different person. She was very dour, very moody, very pulled down and serious. So it was strange to see her go from a smiling, chirpy, extremely friendly girl to someone quite stern.”
India Oxenberg’s mother, Dynasty actress Catherine Oxenberg, has previously gone on Megyn Kelly TODAY as part of her efforts to spread the word about NXIVM and extract India. According to the New York Post, the elder Oxenberg is currently writing a book titled Captive: A Mother’s Crusade To Save her Daughter From a Terrifying Cult.
When asked if Mack was actively attempting to recruit her back in 2013, Shoaib insisted that, “I have no doubt.”
“Looking back at the emails it’s very clear that she was really pumping up her feminist interests to lure me in,” Shoaib continued. “And, you know, I’m very supportive of young feminists, I was very heartened that this woman was looking to do something positive, so it was exactly the right button to push with me. And I’m sort of angry that she used feminism for such nefarious ends.”