When Fyre Festival infamously flamed out in April 2017, many of the models and Instagram influencers who had helped promote it in the preceding weeks—almost none of whom actually attended the festival—deleted those notorious bright orange tiles from their Instagram feeds, and went mum on the entire topic. The only model who spoke up was Bella Hadid, who apologized on Twitter shortly after the calamity went viral, writing, “Even though this was not my project what so ever, nor was I informed about the production or process of the festival in any shape or form, I do know that it is has always been out of great intent, and they truly wanted all of us to have the time of our lives. I initially trusted this would be an amazing and memorable experience for all of us, which is why I agreed to do one promotion… not knowing about the disaster that was to come.”
Hadid has since deleted her tweet, and in the ensuing months, even after the back-to-back release of Fyre Festival documentaries from both Hulu and Netflix reignited widespread interest in the catastrophic event, she and her fellow influencers have stayed silent. This week, however, Australian model Shanina Shaik finally broke her silence. In an interview with Australia’s The Daily Telegraph, Shaik, who appeared in the fantastical first promotional video and posted about the festival on her Instagram feed, said watching Netflix’s doc left her in tears.
“I cried when I watched it,” Shaik told the newspaper, per Elle. “It is really horrific what happened. The girls and I were just kind of dragged into it. We would never want to promote something like that or take someone’s money.” She continued, “I would never promote anything if I knew that it would have that kind of backlash or what became of that. I would never ever want to promote it. When a client comes to my agent and has a vision or a project they want to work with us on, my agency always makes sure we are protected and looked after.”
The only other influencer to even remotely comment on the incident is Hailey Bieber, who, back when she was still Hailey Baldwin, also appeared in the promo video and did her part to spread that ubiquitous orange tile with her millions of Instagram followers. During an appearance on The Late Late Show on Wednesday night, while playing a game of “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts,” Bieber was asked by host James Corden how much she was paid to appear in the video, at risk of having to take a sip of bird saliva if she didn’t answer. “I am not gonna share, but it made for a very generous donation to charity,” was all she would say, confirming that she gave away all her earnings from the partnership once she saw what had become of the festival (and, thanks to her generosity, she was spared the saliva).
All the secrecy could perhaps be attributed to the fact that several of the agencies that represent the models and influencers involved with Fyre Festival are expected to be subpoenaed, now making any discussion of their involvement in the festival a legal issue. Attorneys requested the subpoenas in an effort to figure out where, exactly, the millions of dollars raised by Fyre founder Billy McFarland (currently serving time for wire fraud) actually went.