A Tom Cruise lookalike has been kicked off Instagram for ‘pretending to be someone,’ which has destroyed his business.
Jerome LeBlanc, 33, from Quebec, Canada, who resides in San Diego, California, was removed from the social media platform for breaking one of the apps ‘community guidelines’ which forbid people from impersonating others.
LeBlanc, who blessed with good looks and appears uncannily like the real Tom Cruise, had been able to find work impersonating the Top Gun actor and built up his Instagram following over the course of six years.
Having built up more than 30,000 followers, his sudden removal from Instagram led to a sharp drop in business.
‘It was a pretty big blow for someone self employed like me to lose an account that brought me so much business,’ LeBlanc told DailyMail.com.
LeBlanc was first banned from the platform in June 2021. He appealed and was reinstated before being stuck off for good weeks later.
Jerome LeBlanc, 33, built up his Tom Cruise lookalike business over 10 years but has now been kicked off Instagram
LeBlanc, left, impersonates the real Tom Cruise and his character Maverick, right, from the 1986 film Top Gun
Instagram rules state: ‘Creating an account to impersonate someone is against the Community Guidelines and could result in the removal of your account.’
The app further advises: ‘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 tells DailyMail.com: ‘I tried appealing the disabling of my account – explaining I’m impersonating a fictional character, but no luck. They stated “I was pretending to be someone, and my name did not match the account.” Of course I wasn’t pretending to be anyone, I was impersonating a fictional character.’
LeBlanc set about providing Instagram documents that would hopefully see the company, which is owned by Meta (formerly Facebook), reconsider.
He supplied them with information including a business license showing that owned a lookalike business, but the decision was a firm ‘no’.
‘I began to appeal three times a day for weeks. Finally, I received a different response, they said I needed either a lawyer or someone on my behalf to prove my legitimacy. So I retained a lawyer,’ he continued.
‘After thousands of dollars lost during the process, and thousands spent on a lawyer trying to regain my account. They never even responded to my lawyer,’ LeBlanc explained.
LeBlanc often makes in-person appearances at military-themed events
LeBlanc has now been forced to switch to TikTok to generate business. He is pictured in 2021
LeBlanc says he does not believe the real Tom Cruise, pictured above, is responsible for him being removed from Instagram while others have suggested that he may well be
‘It has affected my business greatly due to the fact my Instagram was mainly a San Diego base following. Which is where I live. Also, to top it off… This is all happening during a pandemic where we need to maintain a physical distance.’
Before heading online, LeBlanc began impersonating Cruise’s character Maverick from Top Gun on Hollywood Blvd in Los Angeles at the age of 23, where he would pose with tourists.
In recent times, when not making in-person appearances at parties or larger events such as the San Diego Comic Con for a fee of thousands, LeBlanc would generate income by making personal videos for those who requested them for around $80 a pop.
Despite speaking French as a first language, LeBlanc trained himself to perfect the quintessential Tom Cruise laugh, a trademark of the Syracuse-born superstar.
Now married with two children, his impersonation role is his full-time job.
Since being kicked off Instagram, LeBlanc has been forced to start all over again and has now switched to TikTok and Cameo.
LeBlanc began impersonating Cruise’s character Maverick from Top Gun, on Hollywood Blvd pictured above, in Los Angeles at the age of 23, where he would pose with tourists
On TikTok, he has quickly managed to build up a loyal fanbase of more than 530,000 followers. Nevertheless, he is still disappointed in how he was treated by Instagram.
‘My career was mainly ‘meet and greets’ and appearances, and because of this platform I survived the entire pandemic creating videos for people and never receiving unemployment,’ he said.
‘I’m extremely disappointed that a platform so huge wouldn’t have a customer service system with real people responding.’
LeBlanc says he does not believe the real actor is behind his suspension but has had word that Cruise may well have had some influence behind the scenes.
‘In November, I tried appealing once again but the email address simply bounced, so I have been definitely banned from the appealing process at this point.’
Despite a frustrating six months, LeBlanc remains humble: ‘I’m very grateful for a career that is not only fun for me, but fun for others. The exchange of energy this job brings is absolutely fantastic.’