The legal proceedings against Smallville actress Allison Mack continue regarding sex trafficking charges (alongside founder Keith Raniere) within the NXIVM cult. Mack already admitted that the cult’s branding ritual was her idea, and previously, it was revealed that she tried to recruit Emma Watson into the fold. Former child star Mara Wilson (Matilda) has now penned an essay for Elle, in which she attempts to make sense of how former child stars like Mack, who Mara once considered a friend, can find these organizations appealing.
Within the piece, Wilson explains what cults like NXIVM and Scientology inherently seem to realize. That actors end up losing themselves in a way while learning to portray a multitude of other people. And these cults seek to rush in and fill the empty vessel:
It’s hard to be an actor and not be spiritual, or to get vulnerable. Even the most structured, safe, intensive acting schools are filled with crying, massage trains, and some nudity. There’s also a lot of self-reflection; when you’re studying how to be other people, you’re probably also going to have to learn about yourself, as well. You are like a musician, you are your own instrument, your feelings are the strings.
Wilson describes the Mack she knew 20 years ago as bright and full of promise, and she was shocked to witness videos of Mack gazing adoringly at Keith Raniere while witnessing his deliberately obscure teachings. Wilson believes it comes down to this, and child stars are particularly vulnerable:
Allison spent ten years on the set of Smallville. She was a recognizable face, with a steady fanbase. She was probably used to being surrounded by a cast and crew that must have come to feel like family, for ten years. Perhaps, like me, she craved structure, validation, and to feel like she was a part of something. It in no way excuses what she has allegedly done, but it might explain it.
Indeed, Mack and Raniere have been jointly accused of horrific deeds — not only running a sex-slave cult but also a forced labor conspiracy. Further, they allegedly kept women in cages and placed them on restrictive diets in addition to forcing them to sexually submit and be branded with Raniere’s initials. Much has been reported about NXIVM over the past year, including extensive research from writer and comedian Brock Wilbur, who has detailed the cult’s attempts to recruit him as well.
Also, WIlson discusses in her piece how the makers of the upcoming controversial Roe v. Wade movie tried to hire her to play feminist Betty Friedan (“who was not portrayed in a flattering light”). Wilson says the current cast list is full of former child stars, which prompted her to write the essay about Mack. Read the full piece, which is worth your time, here.