Chanel Iman Was Kept 'in the Dark’ About Fyre Festival: 'Thank God I Didn't Hop on That Flight'
The model comments for the first time on her involvement in the promotional video for the failed Fyre Festival
As two documentaries — Netflix’s Fyre and Hulu’s Fyre Fraud — expose the disastrous unraveling of the highly publicized 2017 Fyre Festival and continue to captivate the internet and spark new lawsuits, model Chanel Iman (who starred in the event’s promotional commercial and was supposed to attend) reveals she was kept “in the dark” about the demise of the Bahamas-based festival.
“I was actually on my way to the Fyre Festival because they had promised the talent that we all could have tickets and villas,” Iman, 28, tells PEOPLE exclusively as we caught up with the model for the launch of Uniqlo’s new clothing line.
“So my flight was booked to the Fyre Festival. And thank god me and [now-husband] Sterling [Shepard] didn’t hop on a flight because that was in our plans. We would have been stuck with everyone else,” the model continues.
Iman says like all the attendees who shelled out thousands of dollars on tickets to the festival — which was once touted as a luxury experience on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma with performers like Blink-182 and Migos and high-profile social media influencers including Kendall Jenner — she was disappointed with the failed outcome of the event.
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“I think it was very frustrating because we were looking forward to something that didn’t happen,” the model tells us.
She adds that she and the other models who promoted the event and were featured in the promotional commercial, like Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski and Hailey Baldwin, were never aware of Fyre Festival co-founder Billy McFarland’s financial troubles that ultimately led to Fyre’s cancellation.
“To be a part of the whole Fyre Festival commercial, we had no idea what was going to happen. We were all told the same exact thing as everybody else was told,” Iman says. “I saw the documentary on Netflix just flipping through and I said, ‘I didn’t know there was a documentary.’ Like, I’ve kind of just been in the dark the whole time.”
The model also recounted her terrifying experience shooting the Fyre Festival commercial on Great Exuma island on a beach with wild boars.
“I don’t like going to that island to see those pigs cause they really, really will bite you,” Iman says. “If you see the Hulu documentary I am like running, I am jumping in the boat because I don’t want anything to do with getting bit or getting hurt by the pigs.”
“I know a lot of the girls are picking up the pigs, holding them, but like it just wasn’t something that I wanted to do,” she adds.
In the wake of the Fyre Festival documentaries, models who received money to help promote the event may be forced to reveal information about how much they were paid for their services, according to a new court filing reviewed by multiple outlets.
On Monday, a judge granted an ex parte order in favor of Fyre Festival trustee Gregory Messer — who is overseeing the bankruptcy of Fyre Media — to issue subpoenas to many celebrities who appeared in a buzzy promotional video shot in the Bahamas or shared Instagram posts positively advertising the festival, the Daily Mail reported.
IMG Models, which represents numerous models who promoted the festival, including Iman, Hadid, Baldwin and Victoria’s Secret Angel Elsa Hosk, was among the list of organizations that will receive subpoenas, as will DNA Model Management, which represents Ratajkowski.
The trustee has said IMG received $1.2 million from the festival’s founder Billy McFarland between November 2016 and February 2017, and DNA received $299,000 from McFarland in March 2017, according to Billboard.
DNA did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment, while IMG Models had no comment.
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