Allison Mack was a talented television actress who went on to become a cult leader that branded women. How could something like this happen?!
I was a die-hard Smallville fan for the first 4-5ish seasons, so when Allison Mack’s name appeared in the news a few years back, I knew exactly who the story was referring to. I loved Mack as Chloe, the plucky sidekick to Tom Welling’s Clark Kent; in my opinion, she was one of the main reasons to watch the series. I couldn’t wait to see what she did after Smallville ended. Of course, I didn’t see her going down the path of a cult leader, but that’s precisely what happened.
I don’t remember if I learned about NXIVM before I knew Allison Mack was related to the group or if I learned all of it simultaneously, but outside of Mack’s involvement, I was fascinated by the cult. So I consumed the documentary series’ The Vow and Seduced, created by former members Mark Vicente and India Oxenberg, respectively. I scoured the internet for news and interview clips and became momentarily obsessed. How could intelligent women (and men) fall victim to a predator like Keith Reniere? And even more importantly, for this former Smallville fan, how did Allison Mack become his most devoted victim? So much so, that she more or less became an abuser herself. None of it seemed possible… until you start to break down her journey step by step.
Despite Allison Mack’s successful career, she felt like she was lacking something important in her life. Her Smallville co-star, Kristin Kreuk, was a member of ESP (the gateway program into NXIVM masquerading as a self-improvement course). As soon as Mack joined, leader Keith Reniere began to “love bomb” the actress. Instantly, Mack felt she found what she was missing in her life. And while Kreuk eventually left ESP, Mack doubled down, ultimately giving up her television career to work full-time with Reniere. It wasn’t long before the impressionable young actress (who was still only in her early 20s at this point) became one of Reniere’s most devoted disciples.
During her time in NXIVM, Allison Mack went from follower to leader of the most disturbing inside circle known as DOS. It was through this group that Mack forced women into a master-slave relationship while holding “collateral” as blackmail. Women would hand over their deepest, darkest secrets or personal information and were then told to comply or else. These women, desperate to elevate their consciousness, handed over the collateral before they fully understood what they are getting into, and once they learned, it was too late. Mack held more collateral than any other leader in the group, and all of it went straight to Keith Reniere. Not long after Mack and Reniere forced the members to brand themselves with Reniere’s (and Mack’s) initials, women began to come forward. Despite their fears, they shared their stories publicly, and soon enough, Reneiere, Mack, and others were arrested.
Watch the video below to get a better understanding of how Allison Mack transformed from a rising television star to a maniacal cult leader’s delusional puppet: