New York native Leah Remini is best known for her role as Carrie alongside actor Kevin James, in the successful sitcom King of Queens. She also recently landed a reality show with her family on TLC called Leah Remini: It’s All Relative. Remini has also appeared as a guest star on the TV Land sitcom, The Exes. There was also that time she starred in Saved By the Bell for six episodes of the show. While Remini isn’t often involved in scandal like many of her peers, she did have a few negative things to say after she was fired from the popular daytime show The Talk, in 2011. A number of viewers enjoyed seeing her (and her co-host, Holly Robinson-Peete, who was also fired) on the show, and Remini made it clear that jealousy is likely what led to her dismissal.
Of course, the biggest news story surrounding Leah Remini these days is that she’s written a tell-all book about her exit from the Church of Scientology, and why she chose to leave after spending nearly all her life in the church. The church has some pretty harsh things to say about what Leah reveals in her book, but it looks like that’s not going to stop her from telling her story. This recent media attention has gotten us keenly interested in Leah Remini all over again. If she’s one of your favorite actors, chances are you want to know more details about her life. Here are 12 things about Leah Remini you probably didn’t know.
12. Leah Remini Is A Stepmother
When Leah Remini met her husband, actor, singer and businessman Angelo Pagan, he had three sons. She doesn’t talk about her stepchildren often (maybe because they want their privacy), but she already had a little practice with raising children before she and Angelo welcomed their daughter Sofia, in 2004. Recently, one of Remini’s stepsons was featured on her TLC reality show, and brought his newborn son over for a visit. Looks like Leah Remini is also now a step-grandmother. Before the reality show, Remini didn’t emphasize or reveal details like this about her life, but maybe she’s at the point in her career where she wants to be seen as more of a family-oriented woman.
11. Leah Remini “Left School” In 8th Grade
Leah Remini and her sister were taken from conventional schooling in 8th grade. From this point on, they studied Scientology extensively. Remini’s mother moved the girls to Clearwater, Florida, where the Scientology headquarters is located. Leah states that she lived in “roach-infested dorms with other children” and had to work tirelessly with the fellow members of the Sea Organization. This is a full-time religious mandate set forth by the church. Remini also confirms that she had to sign a contract with the Church of Scientology, stating that she would remain a faithful member of the church for a billion years. Yes, you read that right.
10. Leah Remini Lost Part of Her Childhood Due to “The Church”
When Leah was 9 years old, she was indoctrinated into the Church of Scientology in New York. Remini’s mother was attracted to the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard (who is the leader of Scientology). After Leah’s mother got divorced from her husband, she enrolled Remini and her sisters in the Sea Org group, which is a volunteer organization. Remini has stated that Scientologists don’t see children the way the rest of the world does. Children are treated like spiritual beings, and are given responsibilities that are usually reserved for older people. Leah has shared that this compromised her childhood, and that this type of treatment can cause your ego to become “extremely inflated.”
9. Leah Remini Was Kicked Out Of Sea Org for Being “Boy Crazy”
After working with Sea Org for a year, Leah was kicked out of the organization because she was caught socializing with boys. This was pretty typical behavior, but the Church was appalled by the fact that Leah allowed her then-boyfriend to touch her breasts (over her shirt). This was a violation according to the doctrine of Scientology, and the Church threatened to put Remini in a “rehab program” because of the incident. Remini stated that the punishment for such actions included wearing black all the time, referring to everyone as “sir,” and having to run everywhere you go. This incident made Remini’s mother remove Leah and her sister from Sea Org. However, Leah didn’t decide to leave the church until she was in her 40s.
8. Leah Remini’s Parents Have Shady Pasts
Leah Remini reveals that her father, George Remini, actually spent time behind bars. He was an inmate in Riker’s Island for selling cocaine. During Remini’s reality show, she also reveals that she hadn’t seen her father in a while, but decided to meet with him again on the show, because she wanted her daughter Sofia to get to know him. Leah also states that her mother was a “sl*t” in the 1970s, and experimented with drugs as well. Perhaps Leah’s mother wanted her children to be in a more structured environment after she attempted to turn her life around, which is why Scientology appealed to her.
7. Leah Remini Has No Regrets About Her Time In The Church
Even though Remini decided to leave Scientology after more than three decades, and the church had some pretty negative things to say about her departure, Leah states that she doesn’t regret being a member for so long. She stated in an interview that she doesn’t regret what she’s gone through, and that being a member of the church “really did teach [her] a lot.” She says that her life after leaving the church feels as though she’s getting a second chance to live. After Remini made these statements during an interview on 20/20, the Church of Scientology stated “we are very happy Ms. Remini is no longer in the church.”
6. Leah Remini Was A Mistress
Leah Remini’s husband Angelo Pagan was a drug dealer as a young man, but it is believed that he’d found a new profession before he and Leah got serious. Angelo was also married before, and cheated on his former wife with Remini. Leah was not aware that Pagan was married until after she started sleeping with him. When Remini found out, she paid a pretty hefty sum of money for Angelo and his wife to take Scientology marriage counselling. However, Pagan decided that the counseling wasn’t going to work. He decided to divorce his wife and marry Remini. The couple got married in 2003.
5. Leah Remini Broke The Rules of Scientology During Birth
Even though it is against the rules of the church to receive any type of medication, even in childbirth, Remini decided to trust her intuition and get an epidural when she was delivering her daughter, Sofia. Women in the Church of Scientology are not even allowed to moan during childbirth, and Remini revealed that she was trying to be strong for her church, but when the labor pains hit, she had to do what was best for her. She states that the pain was so bad she wanted to hit herself over the head with a rock. This, along with other instances of when Remini “broke the rules” likely led to her rocky relationship with the Church.
4. Leah Remini Stated That The Church Would Try To Discredit Her
Leah was very clear about the fact that after Scientology got a hold of her new book, the church would make a concerted effort to discredit her. She also said that the church would spend lots of money to run advertisements and create websites to make it seem that she was spewing lies about the organization. Remini stated in interviews that a number of celebrities who are part of the Church may also be paid to make public statements to defend the church. In Leah’s book, she reveals secrets about celebrities like Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise, Kirstie Alley and Sharon Osbourne, and the details could compromise the careers of these famous people significantly.
3. Leah Remini Was “Written Up” For Disrespecting Tom Cruise
When Remini jokingly said that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes should “get a room,” she was “written up” by the Church of Scientology. When Cruise and Holmes were dating, Leah and her husband were asked to give the couple salsa lessons. This seems pretty harmless, but Leah and Angelo were asked to come to Cruise’s home in the middle of the night. According to Remini, Tom was “forcibly kissing Kate” and she said “hey, get a frickin’ room.” Leah states that it’s not uncommon for members of the church to rat each other out for small indiscretions like this. If a member is heard saying anything that could be considered critical of the church, he/she will be written up.
2. Leah Remini Was Asked To “Recruit” Jennifer Lopez
Apparently, the Church of Scientology wanted to have Jennifer Lopez as one of its members. The Church was aware that Leah and her husband were good friends with Lopez and her then-husband Marc Anthony. So, the leaders in Scientology told Remini to invite Lopez and Anthony to Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ 2006 wedding, which was said to be one of the biggest events of the year. The event lasted three days, and Jennifer and Marc agreed to come. However, Leah and Jennifer were kept at separate tables and rode in separate cars throughout the wedding celebration, so that the Church could convince Lopez to join without Remini’s influence.
1. Leah Remini “Blew The Whistle” About David Miscavige’s Missing Wife
Leah Remini spoke up about the fact that she thought it was weird that David Miscavige, the head of the Church of Scientology, was at the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes wedding, but his wife Shelly, wasn’t. Remini asked where Shelly was several times, and she was disciplined for “causing trouble.” Eventually, Remini wrote a “knowledge report” to express her grievances about certain members of the church, especially David Miscavige and Tom Cruise. This got her in even more trouble with the Church. Her punishment was four months of reprogramming and being audited for 11 hours a day. Remini states that the Church was basically “trying to get me to recant what I said, to apologize for ruining the wedding of the century.” Shelly Miscavige hasn’t been seen publicly since 2007. The Church of Scientology has denied that there are any conspiracies surrounding her.