10 Things You Didn’t Know About Leah Remini

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Leah Remini is the latest celebrity to ruffle the feathers of Scientologists. In 2013 she released a memoir called Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology and announced she was leaving the religion. She’s been surfacing in the media consistently ever since with new accusations and rumblings of secrets. Remini was famous long before her religion became a public concern. She’s best recognized for her sitcom roles on Cheers and as Carrie Heffernan on The King of Queens. Lately, she’s been revamping her career with roles on shows like The Exes, Leah Remini: It’s all Relative, and most recently, a docu-series on A&E which explores the lives of former Scientologists. There’s more to Leah Remini than what we see on TV — here’s a look at 10 things you probably didn’t know about the actress:

10. Unlikely Friendship

Leah Remini and the Jenny From the Block singer have one of the most unlikely celebrity friendships, but it’s cute nonetheless! These two besties are incredibly supportive of each other and can often be found on each other’s social media and sharing kind words about the other during interviews. When Remini announced she was leaving the Church of Scientology, her friend Jennifer Lopez offered support and a shoulder to lean on. She could also be found in the front row of the audience when Leah Remini competed on Dancing with the Stars.

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9. Childhood

Leah grew up in a middle class family in Brooklyn, New York, with a sister named Nicole and her two parents, Vicki Marshall and George Remini. It didn’t last long though. Her parents divorced and her mother started dating a man who was a Scientologist. When she was 13 her mother took her out of school, and moved her and Nicole to the church’s special Sea Org headquarters in Clearwater, Florida. In this program, they were separated from their mother, who was pregnant at the time and forced to sign a “billion-year” contract of allegiance to the church. Remini and her sister were forced to live in what she described as a “roach-infested motel room with six other girls.” She dropped out of 8th grade and was assigned to start manual labor for up to 12 hours a day cleaning hotel rooms.

Source: Leah Remini via Buzzfeed

8. Kicked out of Sea Org

Leah and her sister were regularly reprimanded as teenagers because of her “mouth” and what Scientology said was “fraternization.” Remini said she was caught fooling around with her boyfriend and ordered to partake in the Rehabilitation Project Force which was a grueling punishment. Her mother eventually stood up for them and took her children out of Sea Org. They then moved to Los Angeles, but her mother was still bound to the religion. They grew up very poor, “scraping to get by, living on a friend’s floor, trying to get our own apartment and paying for Scientology [courses].”

Source: Leah Remini via ABC

7. Dropped out of High School

In 1984 Leah’s mother divorced her second husband and moved herself, her daughters and Leah’s step sister to Los Angeles. Leah enrolled in school which proved to be a hard transition. On her first day at King Junior High School, Leah said she was cornered by a group of girls. “They said, ‘We heard you’re from New York and you were gonna conquer the school.’ I go, ‘Yeah, I’m Christopher Columbus.’ I mean, how stupid was that? My mouth always got me into trouble,” she said in an interview with People. A week later she dropped out. “I just said, ‘Screw this. If I want an education, I’m going to learn from my mother.'” She got a job as a hostess at a restaurant and went to auditions.

Source: Sherry Ollins via ABC

6. Becoming an Actress

Not long after she moved to L.A., Remini found herself an agent and landed an audition with casting director, John Levey. “I went to the $5 clothing store, bought myself a miniskirt, some Skippies, and I walked into the audition being my most Brooklyn. I was a total smart a– and John’s laughing,” she said. She was later told by Levey that it was one of the worst auditions he’d ever seen but he saw something in her and called her back for more auditions until she landed a brief role on Head of the Class. “John Levey begged the producers to give me the part, not because I deserved it. But, I do believe when it’s your turn, it’s your turn. I envision Hollywood as a race and some people simply drop off before their turn comes around. It’s all about stamina — your ability to get back up and keep going even though everything is pointing at the odds not being in your favor,” she said.

Source: Leah Remini via ABC

5. Angelo Pagan

She met her husband Angelo Pagan, an actor and salsa musician, in 1996 at the Cuban restaurant, El Floridita, in Hollywood. They got engaged in January 2003 and married a few months later in July. They welcomed their first child together on June 2004, a daughter named Sofia Bella.

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4. King of Queens

When Remini got the gig for King of Queens, she was coming off two failed television shows, Living Dolls and Fired Up, so she was pretty skeptical about this new show. Her agent was approached by the president of CBS and offered Remini a role on this new show. She eventually took him up on the offer and met with her co-star, Kevin James, for an introduction. “I think he called me a nasty name and grabbed my tit in the first 30 seconds. From that point on, I was hooked. There was just something in his eyes that was indescribable; I fell in love with him,” she said in an interview with Buzzfeed. The show ended up being immensely successful, consistently drawing in 10 million plus viewers over the course of eight seasons. According to Remini, it was eventually cancelled after the ninth season because James wanted to leave the show and focus on his film career.

(c)Columbia TriStar Television/courtesy Everett Collection

3. Left Scientology to Save her Daughter

Remini has said there were numerous reasons as to why she left the Church of Scientology, but the biggest was her daughter, Sofia. “She was getting to the age where the acclimation into the Church would have to start. I started thinking of my own childhood and how I grew up resenting my mother because she was never home. It’s funny; somehow my father the guy who left his kids and never paid child support, was excluded from my resentment and I grew up resenting my mother for not being home to make food, like all my friends’ moms were. But my mom thought she was doing something good; she thought she was helping the planet. That’s what the Church tells you,” she said.


2. Fired From The Talk

Leah Remini is not afraid of speaking her mind, she’s made that abundantly clear in the past few years. When she was fired from The Talk in 2011 alongside fellow co-host, Robinson Peete, after the first season she looked around for somewhere to the point the blame and ended up in a public feud with fellow co-host, Sharon Osbourne. At the time, Remini blamed Osbourne for getting her fired and said, “Sharon thought me and Holly were ‘ghetto’ …we were not funny, awkward and didn’t know ourselves. She has the power given to her.” Of course, Osbourne fired back and said she has nothing to do with who gets fired or hired for CBS and that Remini is merely spreading false gossip. It wasn’t until 2015 when Remini resurfaced to promote her new book on Scientology that she admitted she’s not mad at Osbourne at all and said, “I think it’s because I wasn’t my best self there, I don’t know how to conduct myself,” and that they were absolutely right to fire her.

© CBS / Courtesy: Everett Collection

1. Auditioned for Role of Monica

The NBC sitcom known as Friends ended up being one of the biggest shows of all time, and Remini almost landed the role of Monica! Of course, she didn’t get the part and instead got a guest appearance in the episode, “The One with the Birth,” when Joey befriends and assists her while in the hospital giving birth. In an interview with Media Village, Remini said this was bittersweet for her: “I had auditioned for the role of Monica. As an actress you go on each audition thinking ‘this could change my life. I could get my car out of repo, or get a nice apartment that’s not backed up to a bar in Hollywood,’ so everything rides on those moments.” She went on to explain that she was devastated when she lost the role to Courteney Cox. “We all knew it would be a huge hit. We just knew it.” Everything worked out for Remini because a few years later she got her role on King of Queens.

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Katherine G

Katherine G

Katherine is the Managing Editor for Health and Parenting, but she has a soft spot for entertainment. She loves binging shows on Netflix, reality TV is a guilty pleasure, and country music is her go-to playlist. When she's not writing, she's spending time outdoors, especially with her puppy Zoey!