Studio Owner Discovered Fashion Influencer Who Asked To Give Her Free Studio Time In Exchange For Exposure

composite of Smac McCreanor TikTok screenshots showing text messaging and Smac dancing


  • Creator Smac McCreanor shared an angry voice note from an influencer on a viral TikTok this weekend.

  • In the note, an influencer expressed anger that he was denied studio time in exchange for exposure.

  • Fans believe the note comes from Fashion Nerd Amy Roiland, who has since turned off comments on her TikTok.

Los Angeles-based studio owner Sarah “Smac” McCreanor shared an angry voice note from an unnamed influencer on TikTok this weekend that quickly went viral and demonstrated how the influencer industry has created a culture of law.

McCreanor runs Billy Studios, a rent-by-the-hour studio in Los Angeles that is often used by influencers and other creatives for photo shoots. She said she was recently approached by an influencer who asked to come in and use the space for a 20-minute photo shoot with her daughter.

“This is an actual voice note an influencer left on my corporate IG in the studio when I told her no using our space for free,” the on-screen text read as McCreanor did a comedic dance. (McCreanor is also an accomplished dancer and actor with over 3 million followers). The influencer’s voice note videos no longer appear on McCreanor’s account, but you can view a file collection of his related TikToks here.

“I asked to come there for twenty minutes to shoot something with my daughter, and that’s disappointing?” the influencer you can hear. “Free? When I charge a lot of money for posts, and we get about twelve million hits on our TikTok, and we do really well, actually, with video here, and that’s disappointing?… It’s crazy. Who manages this account? You’re ninety years old and you don’t know how influencers work? It’s funny. You guys are really out of this world, it’s crazy.”

The influencer, believed by many viewers to be fashion influencer Amy Roiland, suggested the exposure would be compensation for studio time. “I asked, ‘oh can I shoot there for 20 minutes with my daughter to make a viral video and like and support you guys and post around, and people will book your studio because it’s colorful and very much in line with my brand — they’re going to book your studio’, and then you wrote, ‘oh, it’s so disappointing that you ask for a partnership.’ Influencers collaborate.”

Roiland, who ran the “Fashion Nerd” blog and now runs the popular A Fashion Nerd TikTok and Instagram accounts, typically posts hyper-colorful lifestyle content with her young daughter. Roiland is also the sister of ‘Rick and Morty’ creator Justin Roiland, a detail that circulated on TikTok after TikToker @panamakinnell said she once received an unexpected DM from Roiland stating so.

In subsequent videos, McCreanor shared a screenshot conversation conducted on Instagram DM with the influencer.

In it, McCreanor declined the influencer’s request for studio time off, explaining that the studio only accepts paying clients for all bookings. After the influencer countered the denial with the reach of his content – “we have 15 million likes on TikTok now and 600,000 fans,” reads the DM – the studio again declined.

“As artists ourselves, we always encourage the community to support each other by doing business professionally,” the response reads in part. “…as artists we would never ask for free work from the community and therefore cannot allow others to do it for us, especially with influencers of your caliber who have such lucrative careers. Knowing that you have continuously asked for free time from multiple studios is sadly disappointing.”

TikTok screenshot composite from Smac McCreanor's TikTok shared by @bentleyliz2

Text messages McCreanor said he received from the unnamed influencer.Insider;TikTok;@smacmccreanor;@bentleyliz2

The disgruntled influencer reportedly sent complaints to McCreanor’s various accounts. McCreanor shared a presentation of angry reviews and emails it said the influencer made in response – on the studio’s website (it’s unclear whether the complaint was filed publicly or privately and Insiders were unable to verify the post on the accounts McCreanor’s studios peerspace), an email sent to McCreanor’s personal email account, and a direct message sent from his daughter’s Instagram account.

The Billy Studio declined to comment.

“As a business owner, you should be really nice always and deflect… it wouldn’t hurt you to say one nice thing about me and how aligned we are and you should check and see and let it be,” the statement reads. McCreanor said the influencer sent to his personal email.

“I will also let my famous blogger friends and my famous musician friends know how rude you have been and never book your space or report it…” the email continued.

Twitter user and Youtube creator Amanda Golka told Insider that she noticed Roiland’s TikTok account was active when the video was first posted on Saturday, but it was deactivated by Sunday evening. Currently, Roiland’s account is active again, even though comments are disabled. Roiland did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

TikToker @lyddiecattt said in a Nov. 14 TikTok that, as a longtime follower, she was disappointed in Roiland’s actions and expressed it (likely via a TikTok comment from Roiland). She told viewers that Roiland left a reply on her most recent post on Nov. 13 after she turned off comments on her account. (Insider has verified that the comments were left by Roiland’s account).

“Upset and yes I left and I shouldn’t have…I agree…but he was so mean to me for no reason…” the comments read. “You’re only seeing one side of the story; it sucks, I wish I could have my say, she was so rude, so mean to me. My grandfather just died, I’ve been so…”

a screenshot Insider took from TikToker video comments, showing comments left by Roiland's account.

A screenshot of the comments left on TikToker @lyddiecattt by Amy Roiland’s TikTok account.Insider;TikTok;@lyddiecattt

Some influencers believe that the number of their followers grants them special privileges

Influencers have often been called upon to expect free stays, free meals or VIP treatments in exchange for exposure.

In 2018, after influencer Elle Darby attempted to get a free stay at Dublin’s White Moose Hotel in exchange for advertising, the hotel banned all bloggers and influencers from the business.

Earlier this year, an Australian micro-influencer couple came under fire after they demanded a meal in exchange for posts on their Instagram account, which at the time had around 2,600 followers.

“Sorry for the delay. I’ve been grappling with how much anger to demonstrate/throw in your direction,” the owner wrote in response. “Blind-walking to a place you know nothing about finding free stuff is a pretty crap thing to do at best,” continued the owner, who Insider identified via LinkedIn as Luke Bresnan. “But it’s even worse when COVID is still a big thing, devastatingly affecting small businesses like us for two years now.”

The story helped popularize the #couscous hashtag for the comment, which was used to shame Australian influencers who demanded free meals in exchange for social media posts.

So far, Roiland does not appear to have given any explicit public response to the controversy.

Read the original Insider article

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