On May 20, Sarah Edmondson was among 11 featured speakers and four musical artists who gave a “TEDx Talk” in Portland, Oregon, before an audience of more than 3000 people.
Edmondson was “the actress who exposed a cult” and she made, as did other speakers, a 15-minute TEDx talk presentation.
While the video of the event is yet to be released, Edmondson shared her sentiments on social media.
In social media posts, she says she has been out of NXIVM – that is “OUT and AWAKE” – for six years.
Edmondson has made a name for herself as a cult survivor, whistle blower, and advocate. She has appeared on podcasts, news interviews, and reports, YouTube interviews, starred in HBO’s The Vow, wrote a book, “Scarred,” and hosts her own popular podcast with husband, Anthony ‘Nippy’ Ames, called “A Little Bit Culty.”
Edmondson says she was drawn to NXIVM at age 27 because she yearned for success. At the time, she was a struggling actress living in a basement suite. As she rose in the MLM ranks, she began making five figures a month in NXIVM and purchased a million dollar penthouse.
The high-energy Edmondson was NXIVM’s top salesperson, recruiting about 2000 students – mostly in Vancouver. She regularly gave presentations to potential students and asked them to put their faith in the efficacy of the pricey NXIVM classes called ‘Intensives’.” They were based on the teachings of a man she believed was the smartest and most ethical man in the world, Keith Raniere. While students might have considered the remote and dubious Raniere profound, it was Edmondson’s charisma, her success, her winning charm, that prompted recruits to join and recruit others themselves, with a steady upflow of money from her downline. It felt like success.
There is archival footage shown in The Vow of Keith Raniere coaching Edmondson on making her live presentations scintillating.
Did Edmondson use what she learned from Raniere to perform her TEDx talk, warning people about the dangers of people like him?
She is entitled to take the good and reject the bad.
And the same intensity and high energy Edmondson displayed in building NXIVM she used in tearing it down. She began by disenrolling her students, contacting this writer, who broke the stories of the worst of the cult — the branding and blackmailing of women — something she recently learned and was victimized by – and astonishingly – she did what was perhaps the most striking act in the entire NXIVM/Raniere takedown. She pulled down her pants a little and showed the New York Times her brand, which was duly published on the front page.
In the “tribute” section of her Instagram post, she doesn’t thank Raniere though, perhaps she should, for in an ironic way, he has been the cornerstone of her career.
For a dozen years, Edmondson followed him, and earned good money. For six years, she opposed him and gained great fame as one of the leading cult experts. She is more than an expert for she worked to bring down a cult and its leader. She is a speaker sought after in the growing anti-cult world.
She thanks two former NXIVM members, former business partner Mark Vicente, and husband Anthony, who held “down the fort at home” while she appeared in Portland.
Though her jargon might speak to another breed than the staid and conventional with such colorful figures of speech as “tick something meaningful off the bucket list,”and “full on vulnerability hangover,” at 45 years of age, Edmondson might have arrived.
Edmondson Reflects on Her TEDx Talk Journey
By Sarah Edmondson
LONG POST ALERT (part one of three)…
First. I have a full on vulnerability hangover.
Second….holy shit. Where to start?
When I was asked to be a part of year 11 at TEDx, it was an easy decision… I was honoured to be asked and was excited to tick something meaningful off the bucket list… Most importantly, I wanted to share my message of cult literacy and some of the nuggets we have learned from all of the experts and survivors we have interviewed on @alittlebitculty and who have been a part of our healing process. I was nervous but pumped!
BTW-we have been OUT and AWAKE for SIX years TO THE DAY today.
So, it seemed PERFECT. A dream come true!
BUT I honesty didn’t know what I was getting myself into…
(Part two of three)
How to distill 6 years of de-programming into a 15 minute talk? What have I learned that I can share with the general public that will help them in their seeking travels? What would have been most helpful for me to know as a 27 year old back in 2005? What do I want the world to know? As with TED tradition, what was my single IDEA that I wanted to leave the audience with?
This part of the process was almost as hard as trying to get the words, once written (Thank you @jesstardy for your wordsmith skills and wisdom) into my body. I rehearsed minimum three times a day for the 10 days leading up to it- the butterflies in my stomach swirling, over zoom and in person- with anyone who was interested (thank you friends, families and neighbours, you know who you are!)
A few days beforehand I had stressed myself out with nerves – about all the things that could go wrong… I had the thought “why did I agree to this?? This is absolute torture”.
But THEN….I arrived in Portland. And MAGIC happened. The team, the people, the events, the support the kindness the CONFLUENCE of ideas, beliefs and talent exploded and everything came together.
Being on that stage- with 3200 people in the audience- strangers, supporters, family and friends – sharing my story….ROCKED me.
@markvicente – you were right – I was vibrating with purpose and meaning.
I loved it. Every second. And when it was over and had a front seat to my fellow speakers and @therealgza from WU TAN CLAN (performing with the @phunkynomads) and then the unbelievable @thunderstormartis. What a gift. What an experience. Goosebumps!!!
(More to come). 📷 @and_rew_and_you @tedxportland @ted
(Part three of three)
Thank you to everyone who came to say hi and share their harrowing stories.
Thank you to @brenda_bartlett my book signing body guard and to @mindfuljordan (the queen of wellness for the speakers) for grounding me.
Thank you to my fellow speakers. You are all an inspiration!
I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Promise to post the EDITED link as soon as I have it!