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.
At the center of it all is the elusive Shekinah Church pastor Robert Israel Shinn, whose son Isaiah is listed as a director and choreographer for 7M Films, and is often credited or tagged on all the dancing videos its members post. (Robert Shinn has also gone by both Robert Shin and Israel Shinn.)
And in 2009, Shinn was sued by a former Shekinah Church member, who accused the pastor of behavior that echoed the Wilking family’s claims. The woman, Lydia Chung, claimed that Shinn had isolated her from her family, brainwashed her, and defrauded her out of nearly $4 million, which was allegedly funneled to Shinn through the non-taxpaying church.
Shinn denied any wrongdoing, and the case went to a jury trial in May of 2011, but turned into a judgment by court after one of the defendants didn’t appear. (Court documents indicate that the other defendant, Catherine Yi, had declared bankruptcy.) Judge Kirk Nakamura ruled in Shinn’s favor, with Chung receiving nothing, and allowing Shinn to recover some of his costs.
But Chung is adamant that Shekinah Church “is not a faith church.” “This is a cult,” she told The Daily Beast. “This totally ruins people. You hear about the people who went to Vietnam—going through such a trauma, many people cannot function as a normal human being—this is what it does.”
“I don’t want to cause harm to anyone going to real churches,” Chung emphasized, alleging that Shekinah Church was using the cloak of Christianity-based teachings to ensnare new members. To her, the organization is “much worse” than Scientology or any other religious sect.
Chung declined to comment about details of her suit against Shinn, but court records show an extensive battle against Shinn, Shekinah Church, and Yi, a church member, with the suit stretching out over three years and more than 400 court filings.
In her original complaint, Chung claimed that Shinn and Shekinah Church “exerted undue influence, mind control, coercive persuasion, oppression and other intimidating tactics” over her in order to “divest her of her money and property” to him “all in the name of obeying the will of God.”
Chung claimed in her lawsuit that Shinn forced her into providing labor and “severing” all relationships to her friends and family, with Shinn and Yi allegedly “watch[ing], monitor[ing], and control[ing] every aspect” of her life.
From 1996 to 2008, Chung alleges that as a result of “fraudulent conduct” Shinn and Yi were able to obtain at least $3.8 million from her family trust, monies from her personal banking account and a divorce settlement, as well as properties. (Public records show a transfer of a property from Chung to Shinn.)
But Chung recouped nothing when a judge sided with Shinn. To date, Chung’s lawsuit is the only complaint lodged against Shinn and Shekinah Church.
While 7M Films only popped up around 2021 (the company was incorporated last August with Shinn listed as the CEO,) this wouldn’t be Shinn’s first foray into establishing a type of entertainment-based company. According to public records, he was listed on LLC paperwork for Studio on the Mount, Shinn Entertainment, Glory Bags Records, as well as several other companies.
By any means, it’s not unusual for a church to have an entertainment branch—hundreds of churches across the country have choirs that have in-house studios to produce various worship music. But some say that Shinn’s teachings at Shekinah Church are rooted in something called the Seven Mountain Mandate, Chung claimed to The Daily Beast.
(A representative for Shekinah Church and 7M Films denied they were affiliated with the Seven Mountain Mandate, and stated that the “M” in 7M Films actually stands for “Millennium.”)
But Chung claimed that Shinn took the principles of 7M and “twisted and manipulated” them into what she claimed were cult-like teachings at Shekinah Church.
“This teaching has been preached through the years among Christians, who live a good, normal, healthy life—doing good and helping others,” Chung said.
“Robert is a copycat. He uses other preachers’ messages, manipulates the wording for obedience, then talks to his members who are locked into a small gathering, cut off from the world.”
In addition to several of Shinn’s companies referencing “7M,” his son Isaiah has the phrase “7Men” in his Instagram profile bio, along with the Bible verse Acts 6:3, which references seven men being called upon by apostles to take up societal duties in order to free the apostles’ time for preaching the gospel.
An associate pastor for Shekinah Church also wrote in a letter to a neighborhood council that the church’s mission was to reach the entertainment industry.
Often stylized as 7M, the Seven Mountain Mandate is based on the prophetic Biblical scriptures of Isaiah 2:2 and Revelation 17:9 about the end of times, according to The Advertiser. Although the teaching floated around in 1975, Lance Wallnau, a theology major from Phoenix University, helped bolster the teachings in the 2000s, reported The Outline. While the group has a relatively small following, it wound up gaining national attention when former president Donald Trump had 7M follower Paula White turn up to the White House as his “spiritual adviser.”
In short, Seven Mountains Mandate devotees believe the scriptures spell out a prophecy that in order to establish God’s kingdom on Earth, they need to immerse themselves or invade the seven aspects of modern society, which are family, religion, education, media, entertainment, business, and government.
Wallnau called for Seven Mountains Mandate believers who are “producers, directors, attorneys, politicians, and economists” to fight “our real enemies [who] are the ones that are shaping laws, shaping media, and shaping the next generation.” “We should be moving to the top of these mountains,” he said. “I’m working with believers that I call ninja sheep—those are believers that are actual believers but have to maintain discretion with their public profile.”
And it’s not just entertainment groups that Shinn has established. He’s also listed on paperwork for the real estate company Alpha Plus Realty, and has ties to the Shinn Real Estate Group. Among all the paperwork, the name Shirley Kim—who also works for the real estate brokerage—keeps popping up.
Kim also worked for Imagination Pictures, a production company that listed Isaiah Shinn and 7M Films member Daniel Joseph on its team. According to IMDb, Kim, Joseph, and Robert Shinn served as executive producers and producers on the 2013 film Random Encounters, which starred Meghan Markle.
In early 2020, Kim and Shinn are listed on paperwork that indicates a $4.4 million sale of a property in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Sunland-Tujunga, just north of Burbank. The 5.62-acre lot used to be home to a 17,784 sq ft children’s school, but now Shekinah Church has plans to turn it into its headquarters, according to a letter Kim submitted to the neighborhood's counsel that June, seeking to be added to the board of directors.
“I am also an integral part in the development of the organization that has purchased the property on 7754 McGroarty Street,” she added. “We plan to establish our roots here in Tujunga and through cooperation with the city and neighborhood council, we are contemplating plans and ideas that would best serve our place in our new community.”
Along with Kim’s application, Joseph—who listed himself as an associate pastor at Shekinah—submitted a glowing reference, adding that the church had newly set up its base in the area.
Kim was approved to the board of directors and this January, a member of Shekinah Church presented a proposal to the council that, if approved, would rezone the former school to be a church. According to a recorded council meeting, the member suggested the church could also serve as a COVID-19 testing center, introduced plans to build a large patio, and admitted members would be coming and going from the facility day and night.
He also waxed lyrical in the recorded meeting about establishing an outreach program to the local prison, but quickly abandoned that plan when someone pointed out that the prison facility had been shuttered ages ago, saying he had only done a short Google search of the surrounding area. The council and locals largely hated the proposal, including a neighbor who questioned why the church was flying a lone Israeli flag on the property (the member explained Shekinah Church was a Judeo-Christian organization, but would be happy to also fly an American flag.) The matter of rezoning the property for a church is still pending.
But it seems that the property is already being used for activities for Shekinah Church and 7M Films, as during the Wilking family’s video, the sisters’ mother Kelly briefly mentions attempting to find Miranda at a school,” but couldn’t get past the gated entrance.
“You aren’t going to find it—there’s like 30 people in this thing, it’s very small,” Melanie explained. “There’s no sign in front of where they go to church.”
Kelly said that she had tried to warn Miranda that the church seemed to be “very controlling” and expecting a lot of her time. At one point, she said that they asked Miranda to explain what the church was teaching her, but said even she didn’t seem to understand.
“In the very beginning, when Miranda was first getting involved in this, I was like ‘what's it about, I’d love to learn about it, why can’t we know what it is that you are learning,’” Kelly said. “I think the bottom line is that even they don’t understand it. When I’d ask her questions about it, she would just say, ‘I’m so sorry, you won’t understand.’”
“It just snowballed and escalated,” Kelly cried. “I remember one time saying to Melanie, can you please talk to her, I feel like I’m losing her. And [Melanie] said I think it’s too late.”
Although the family says that they attempted to try to get Miranda away from the group, the break came when the sisters were supposed to fly home to Michigan to attend their grandfather’s funeral last January, they said Miranda refused to come home. Later that month, when her parents came out to California for a crisis talk, that was the last time the family said they had seen her.
At the time, Melanie tried to downplay the estrangement. When fans began questioning why Miranda wasn’t in their videos, she breezily said that Miranda had “chosen to pursue some other opportunities at this time and just take a little break from the Wilking Sisters brand.”
“Sometimes you just need a little change,” she added. “Miranda is still my best friend. I love her so much and I will always support her.”
Meanwhile, Miranda launched her own TikTok and Instagram accounts, changing her last name to Derrick. By spring, she had chopped off her long brown hair in favor of a blunt blonde bob and was primarily working with the other 7M Films dancers, including Derrick, Gordon Watkins, Aubrey Fisher, Alexandra Watkins, Kylie Douglas, Kevin “Konkrete” Davis, Kendra Willis, Ceasare “Tighteyex” Willis, and Vik White.
As the Wilkings pointed out, it’s peculiar that several of the 7M Films dancers are in couples with each other, several who are recently married—much like Miranda and Derrick.
The newfound dancing friends formed a type of “hype house,” a common trend among Los Angeles-based content creators, who would link up and live out of a massive mansion to pump out videos all day long. The 7M dancers would steadily put out a stream of different choreographed dance videos, swapping dance partners. The production value also gradually improved, with high def videos being filmed at expensive properties, including one that links back to Robert Shinn, as well as a $15 million property that’s currently for sale.
Over time Miranda’s stock began to rise, her Instagram account gaining a million followers, with her TikTok account slowly climbing towards the same number. She has secured more prestigious sponsorship deals, including with Sally Hansen and Mac Cosmetics, made appearances on The Ellen Show and popped up on the AMAs red carpet.
After the Wilkings’ video, at least two others came forward with concerns about Miranda and Derrick’s safety. Krump dancer Joey “Knucklehead” Turman claimed that several years ago, Derrick, Willis, Davis, and himself were almost roped into a similar situation by an entirely different organization while competing on the show America’s Best Dance Crew. “The leader of the church similar to this group told us God said we would win the show, but we had to stay away from family. We couldn’t celebrate with friends after an episode, we had to have a Bible study,” he wrote.
Fellow dancer Samantha Long, who claims she was very close with Derrick and even introduced him to Miranda, said in an Instagram video that she noticed a change in behavior in him after he joined 7M Films.
The Wilkings are adamant that they believe Miranda, James Derrick, and all the young members of 7M Films are victims. “They are not in control of their lives—they are all victims of this. We know that’s not her,” they said. “We haven’t said anything because we always had hope that she’d come back. We didn’t want to embarrass her.”
“I will not give up on my family,” Miranda’s father Dean said, his voice breaking.
“We hate this,” Melanie added. It kills me inside that this is happening. They have taken [Miranda] from us. It kills me. This isn’t just drama, that’s why we didn’t say anything else either. No, this is so real. Trust me, we aren’t trying to get attention from this, we just are trying to get Miranda back. We don’t know what else to do.”