As soon as a inventive virtuoso who was finding out structure on the College of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Jerome LeBlanc quickly discovered his calling as probably the most sought-after Tom Cruise lookalike till his high-profile Instagram account was deactivated for allegedly violating its phrases and situations by “impersonating” somebody he wasn’t.
Besides that somebody is a fictional character, Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, performed by Cruise in “Top Gun.”
LeBlanc, 33, instructed Every day Publish Digital that he and his supervisor spouse – whom he met at some point on Hollywood Boulevard whereas impersonating the famed “Top Gun” hunk – have been stonewalled by Instagram and have misplaced out on a ton of enterprise as a result of platform eschewing the social media account, which had 30,000 followers on the time of its deactivation.
Instagram – which is owned by Meta, previously often called Fb – initially banned the San Diego-based LeBlanc in June 2021 earlier than LeBlanc stated he needed to submit verification and proof of his uncanny seems to be with the intention to have his account reinstated.
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“We got it back after proving and showing my ID with the way I look that I portray ‘Maverick’ and they said, ‘sorry for our mistake’ and they gave it back,” LeBlanc defined of the method, which has develop into painstaking to treatment after he stated the platform apologized for its preliminary mistake.
Per Instagram’s guidelines: “Creating an account to impersonate someone is against the Community Guidelines and could result in the removal of your account.”
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It additionally warns customers, “Don’t pretend to be the real individual or brand. This includes: Speaking in the voice or portraying yourself as the individual, brand, or organization. Misrepresenting your relationship to the individual, brand, or organization.”
LeBlanc’s native language is French and he says he adheres to all of Instagram’s guidelines and rules.
“The second time we applied about six times a day for over two months and they never gave it back, even my saying, I am this person,” he stated. “I even recreated — how interesting is it that I created two more accounts after it was deactivated under my name, Jerome LeBlanc — impersonator of Maverick, and it got deleted right away. So I don’t know how that is even possible as well?”
Reps for Instagram and Meta didn’t reply to Every day Publish Digital’s requests for remark. Moreover, numerous attorneys who will not be related to the inquiry declined to talk on the matter with some citing confusion over the ban and others saying they don’t know sufficient concerning the scenario to confidently lend their perception.
LeBlanc shares two younger youngsters along with his spouse – a 3-month-old son and a daughter who’s 2 and a half. He says the loss in revenue has been devastating “in these difficult times” and stated that whereas his authorized counsel relies in Louisiana, bringing a lawsuit in opposition to the social media company in California would all however deplete their financial savings – however the choice stays on the desk because the Instagram ban is “definitely a legal matter at this point.”
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“I mean, losing Instagram and over 30,000 followers, that was my platform where I was really just posting events and clips of events I would do here in San Diego,” LeBlanc defined of his upended enterprise. “I’ve performed on the USS Midway and Miramar base, Kansas City Barbecue. I’m sure you’re familiar with all these locations due to the movie ‘Top Gun’ being filmed here.”
“So I think I really had a big San Diego-based audience on my social media where people could see all this and book me from my platform,” LeBlanc added. “And losing that, I can tell, affected my business tremendously because people were like, ‘What happened with California Tom Cruise?’ And people reached out to other groups or ‘Top Gun’ fans asking about me. So it definitely, I think, made me lose a lot of business for sure.”
He continued: “I kind of put my architectural degree aside at UCLA and I went full speed into this craft and then we moved down to San Diego. And that’s when I was like, wow, this can be a career,” he stated. “And then my wife, who met me as Maverick, realized it is a niche that we should really push further, so she became my manager and she’s been my manager ever since, so both of us are pretty much hurt in the process.”
LeBlanc stated he even recreated a few Instagram accounts to see if they’d go the check however stated these have been additionally eliminated instantly, and now LeBlanc says nobody from Instagram or Meta has gotten again to him concerning his quite a few appeals.
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He has since switched to TikTok, the place he performs to greater than half one million followers.
“Never in my career for 11 years, I’ve been doing this have I called myself Tom Cruise,” he fumed whereas additionally pondering why different related social media accounts have been in a position to keep on with out banishment.
“Have I used the hashtag Tom Cruise? Yes, correct. But Maverick is a character. I’m not doing anything wrong by impersonating a fictional character,” argued LeBlanc. “And so I would say the response of people finding out that I lost my Instagram, they were very insulted and upset about that for sure.”
In actual fact, LeBlanc’s Maverick impersonation is so spot-on, he claimed to Every day Publish Digital that Paramount Studios had even reached out to him prior to now to work with him – so in his idea of who or what could be standing in his means, LeBlanc has his personal suspicions.
“In our situation, we reached out so many times and we had lawyers reaching out, calling, emailing, Facebook and Meta, and we just never heard back. So I would say there are so many other characters,” he defined.
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“Is my character targeted because the movie’s been postponed, and maybe I’m so good at what I’m doing that it makes people upset or I could go further and think, is it Paramount, is it Tom Cruise or is it the religion?” he questioned. “But Paramount has reached out to me to potentially work with me last year, so I doubt it really is the studio. But I think my character is so loved and brings so much attention on social media. I think that’s why I probably got deleted – to not mislead where the real Tom Cruise could be or of scenes of the new ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ or something like that.”
“It always crossed my mind, when will I meet him? And I know myself, as soon as I see him, I will take off the glasses and be who I am and just shake his hand.”
On the finish of the day, LeBlanc simply says he desires to get again to doing what he loves – bringing smiles to the faces of those that love and have been impressed by Maverick in “Top Gun.”
“When people need a celebrity – sometimes they’re so fascinated by a certain movie they’ve done that they want to meet the character” he opined. “Well, that’s what I’m able to bring to the table, and people just kind of freak out because the nostalgia of ‘Top Gun’ is so big from people that grew up with that movie in the ’80s.”
The Canadian stated he believes Instagram merely has an excessive amount of management over its customers and is usually too imprecise in its reasoning behind sure retributions.
“Yes, absolutely. And you know, like any performer, the joy of doing what I do is entertainment. I’m entertaining guests and I feed on the energy of seeing them, just smiling and cracking up,” LeBlanc exuded, the octave in his voice growing with every second of recollection. “And I’m super witty, so I take on people – if one lady isn’t smiling, I’m going to say – ‘Oh my God, it looks like we got to bring back that loving feeling.’ So that’s what is frustrating. It’s like, wow, I was bringing a lot of love and a lot of effort in what I do to give people a good time like any performer, like any comedian even. So yeah, it is upsetting, absolutely with the amount of work that I had when Instagram was around, it’s a challenge to keep going, but I keep my head up.”
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LeBlanc additionally recalled a second at San Diego Comedian-Con one 12 months when he was mere moments from assembly Cruise till the “Mission: Impossible” star elected to not greet followers.
Some studio personnel near the actor quipped to LeBlanc that Cruise couldn’t abdomen the concept that he may come head to head along with his largest supporter who occurred to be “two feet taller” and whose first language is French.
“My niche is very particular. I mean, I have people from aviation contacting me, people from the Navy. I mean, I do graduations constantly,” stated LeBlanc. “Even other Tom Cruise fans will tell me, ‘You’re so humble’ and it’s just refreshing. It’s a nice compliment.”
Regardless of the Instagram ban, LeBlanc stated he longs for the day he truly meets Cruise and stated is aware of precisely how he’ll deal with the actor within the flesh.
“It always crossed my mind, when will I meet him? And I know myself, as soon as I see him, I will take off the glasses and be who I am and just shake his hand,” LeBlanc envisioned. “I’m not here to be beside him or make it a ‘who laughs the loudest’ or ‘who has the better smile.’
“It is nearly like, ‘Hey, hats off. Thank you for all the acting you did because it gave me a good character to play with, and I really enjoyed your character, and we have a similar smile – so a similar charm, maybe?’ And that is what folks like, and that is what they keep in mind from 1986. And I am fortunate and blessed to have that.”