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The Complicated Post-Smallville Life Of The Actress Who Played Lana

Smallville, which ran for 10 seasons from 2001 to 2011, chronicles the pre-Superman life of Clark Kent as he grows up in the fictional town of Smallville, Kansas. In the beginning, this Clark Kent doesn't yet know Lois Lane, his famous love interest. Rather, he is romantically involved with Lana Lang, who appears in eight of Smallville's seasons. Lana was played by Kristin Kreuk. This arguably remains Kreuk's most famous role to date, and is still the role she's held the longest amount of time.

Many fans still think of Kreuk as Lana Lang, even though it's been years since the show ended. But recently, the actress came into the spotlight again for a very different reason. When revelations about NXIVM, a sex-trafficking cult fronting as a multi-level marketing company, began to arise, so did the names of anyone famous involved. One of those names was Kristin Kreuk. We're here to break down the former Smallville star's involvement.

What is NXIVM?

Founded in the 1990s, NXIVM (which is pronounced "nexium") was marketed by its leader, Keith Raniere, as a self-help group, a New York Times piece explains in depth. NXIVM courses, which cost thousands of dollars, were taken by roughly 16,000 people. Some female members were invited to join a more exclusive subsection of the group known as D.O.S., which groomed them into "slaves." These women were sexually assaulted and forced to disclose personal information including their bank accounts and intimate secrets. In October of 2020, Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison. He has been accused of sexual abuse by numerous women, some of whom also said he branded them with his initials.

As The New York Times reported, "Mr. Raniere told recruits that they had to overcome weaknesses common to women: An overemotional nature, a failure to keep promises, and an embrace of the role of victim. Submission and obedience were said to be the solution to achieve those goals, several women said."

Kreuk's Smallville co-star Allison Mack was heavily involved

Another Smallville actress has gotten the bulk of media attention surrounding NXIVM — and for no small reason. Allison Mack, who portrayed Chloe Sullivan for all 10 seasons of the show, pled guilty to charges of racketeering. She has also been charged with sex trafficking, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, and conspiracy to commit forced labor.

Mack stated that she joined the group to "find purpose," and that she "believed Keith Raniere's intentions were to help people." Her involvement in the group included recruiting women by telling them they would be entering "a female mentorship program." In truth, by recruiting women into the cult, and into the D.O.S. sub-group, she was responsible for grooming women for Raniere. She often used blackmail against women in the group, and admitted to coming up with the idea of branding women with initials.

Mack is currently awaiting sentencing and faces up to 40 years in prison.

Kreuk joined when she was 23

At age 23, Kreuk was four years into her time playing Lana Lang on Smallville. She would continue to do so as a series regular for another three years, and came back for the eighth season in a recurring role. Unbeknownst to fans of the show, during this time, Kreuk also joined NXIVM by enrolling in a course for personal growth.

After Raniere was arrested,  information began coming out about the women linked to the cult, including Kreuk's Smallville co-star Allison Mack. Kreuk addressed her involvement in March of 2018. She released a statement to Elle, which she also posted as a screenshot of her Notes app via Twitter, detailing her experience with NXIVM. She was intentionally misinformed about the group's true nature, as so many other women involved were. "When I was about 23," Kreuk recounted, "I took an Executive Success Programs/NXIVM 'intensive,' what I understood to be a self-help/personal growth course that helped me handle my previous shyness, which is why I continued with the program." In short, Kreuk joined for the reasons many joined: She had an earnest interest in developing herself as a person.

Kreuk denounces NXIVM

In her statement, Kreuk addressed accusations that she was in the "inner circle" of the cult, and that she acted as one of its recruiters, as Mack did. She stated, "The accusations ... are blatantly false. During my time, I never experienced any illegal or nefarious activity ... I left about five years ago and had minimal contact with those who were still involved."

Kreuk further explained her misunderstanding of the cult's purpose, and expressed her horror of its true nature. She went on to detail her support for all of the women who came forward with their stories against Raniere and the rest of those responsible. "I am horrified and disgusted by what has come out about D.O.S," Kreuk wrote. "Thank you to all of the brave women who have come forward to share their stories and expose D.O.S.; I can't imagine how difficult this has been for you. I am deeply disturbed and embarrassed to have been associated with NXIVM. I hope that the investigation leads to justice for all of those affected."

Kreuk's statement was backed up by fellow actress Sarah Edmondson

Another actress who got caught up in NXIVM is Sarah Edmondson, a friend of Kreuk. Edmondson spent 12 years with the group, becoming deeply involved. She has since written a book about her experiences: Scarred: The True Story of How I Escaped NXIVM, the Cult that Bound My Life. During her 12 years in the cult, she became one of its most prominent recruiters, bringing in more than 2,000 members and even founding a Canadian chapter in Vancouver.

After her departure in 2017, she became an outspoken opponent of NXIVM. She spoke to the New York Times about her experiences, a report that brought major public attention to the secretive cult.

After Kreuk posted her statement to social media in 2018, Edmondson confirmed that Kreuk had nothing to do with recruiting. She wrote on Twitter that Kreuk "was never in the inner circle ... She never recruited sex slaves and has been out since 2013 before sh*t got weird. She is a lovely person who should not be dragged into this mess."

Others in Hollywood were also linked to NXIVM

Kreuk and Edmondson were not the only Hollywood actors who got caught up in the nefarious cult. A VICE article from September 2020 revealed many famous names involved in NXIVM, including director Mark Vicente, actress Bonnie Piesse of Star Wars fame, and bonafide icon Shirley MacLaine, star of Steel Magnolias and Terms of Endearment.

VICE explained that Raniere "specifically targeted actors and directors, grooming them to become high-ranking NXIVM members and encouraging them to recruit their high-profile friends." While speaking with Refinery29, Edmondson discussed why so many actors — and, more specifically, female actors — were attracted to NXIVM. She stated, "The initial seminars help with a lot of the issues actors struggle with in terms of having confidence and needing to be validated." She added that, in her own experience, she was encouraged by the difference NXIVM initially made in her career: She went on more auditions, and was able to stop using sleeping pills. She continued, "I felt like I was a causing agent in my life rather than just being at the whim of the world."

Kreuk chooses to no longer address the matter

After explaining that her involvement in NXIVM was both limited and non-nefarious, Kreuk has sought to put the matter behind her. A few months following Kreuk's statement, The Daily Beast reached out to her about an interview. As the piece reports, "a publicist for the CW responded, 'We are not answering any questions about Allison Mack or NXIVM so I would need to make sure this is only about the series.'" The aforementioned series would be the Canadian show Burden of Truth, which Kreuk has starred on since 2018. Kreuk plays lawyer Joanna Chang, who returns to her hometown of Millwood, Manitoba to take on a case involving a group of girls suffering from a mysterious illness.

The Daily Beast went on to address Kreuk's desire to separate herself from NXIVM: "Of course, it makes sense that Kreuk, who again has not been implicated in any of the cult's crimes, doesn't want to spend the rest of her life talking about the accused sex traffickers she used to associate with. However, given the overlap between the real-life scandal Kreuk's become associated with and the central themes of her new series, those banned questions could have led to a fascinating conversation." Regardless, Kreuk has made her boundaries clear.