Leah Marie Remini (born June 15, 1970) is an American actress, author, former Scientologist and anti-Scientology activist. She starred as Carrie Heffernan on the long-running CBS comedy series The King of Queens (1998-2007) and later co-hosted The Talk in 2010-11. Since 2016 she has co-produced and hosted the Emmy Award-winning A&E documentary series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.
Raised as a member of the Church of Scientology from childhood, Remini left the organization in 2013 and began public criticism of Scientology. Two years later, she released Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, her memoir about her experience with Scientology and reasons for leaving it. In 2016, she followed up her memoir with an Emmy Award-winning documentary television series on the A&E network, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, to highlight other former Scientologists’ experiences. After a successful first season, the series was renewed by A&E, and the second season debuted in late summer 2017. On March 14, 2018, A&E announced that the series would return for a third season. Since May 2017, Remini has also starred in the 2016 television sitcom Kevin Can Wait as Vanessa Cellucci, alongside Kevin James, her former co-star on The King of Queens; this was later cancelled after two seasons.
Remini was born June 15, 1970, in Brooklyn, New York City, to Vicki Marshal, a schoolteacher, and George Remini, who owned an asbestos removal company. Her mother is of Austrian Jewish descent, while her father has Sicilian ancestry. Remini has a brother, Michael, an older sister named Nicole and four half-sisters: Christine, Stephanie (died of cancer in 2013), Elizabeth, and Shannon.
She was baptized Roman Catholic and raised in the Catholic tradition during her early childhood; when she was nine years old, her mother joined the Church of Scientology, and Remini was thereafter raised as a Scientologist. At thirteen years old, Remini moved to Los Angeles, California, with her mother, where she spent the remainder of her teenage years.
One of Remini’s early television roles was on Who’s the Boss? as Charlie Briscoe, which led to a spin-off series entitled Living Dolls, in which Remini starred with Halle Berry. The show premiered in late 1989 and ran for 12 episodes before being canceled.
In 1991, Remini had a supporting role on the short-lived ABC comedy The Man in the Family. She then had recurring roles on Saved by the Bell, where she played Stacey Carosi, and on Evening Shade as Daisy, the girlfriend of Taylor Newton (Jay R. Ferguson). Remini then appeared in two more short-lived series, First Time Out (1995) and Fired Up (1997-98). In 1993, she appeared on Cheers as Serafina, the daughter of Carla and Nick Tortelli (Rhea Perlman and Dan Hedaya). In 1994, Remini auditioned for the role of Monica Geller on Friends, but the role went to Courteney Cox. Remini later appeared in the 1995 Friends episode “The One with the Birth” in which she played a pregnant woman. In 1998, Remini landed the role of Carrie Heffernan on the CBS sitcom The King of Queens. The series was successful, and ran for nine seasons from September 21, 1998, to May 14, 2007.
During her time on the show, she had a supporting role in the comedy film Old School (2003). Remini also starred in her own reality show, which aired on VH1. Since The King of Queens ended, Remini has starred in nine-episode webisodes of In the Motherhood, along with Chelsea Handler and Jenny McCarthy. She has made two guest appearances on Chelsea Lately. On December 15, 2009, Remini appeared as Carrie Heffernan on Lopez Tonight, with George Lopez as Doug Heffernan in an episode reuniting the cast of the George Lopez sitcom. Remini and Holly Robinson Peete appeared on The Young and the Restless on July 28, 2011.
In October 2011, Remini signed a talent development deal at ABC and ABC Studios that required the network and the studio to develop a comedy project for Remini to star in and produce. In March 2012, it was announced that Remini would star in an ABC comedy Family Tools, a remake of the UK comedy series White Van Man. The series premiered on May 1, 2013, and was not renewed owing to low ratings, ending its run on July 10, 2013.
Remini competed on season 17 of Dancing with the Stars, in which she was partnered with professional dancer Tony Dovolani. The couple made it to the 10th week of competition and reached 5th place. Remini later returned in season 19 as a guest co-host on week 6. She returned as guest co-host on season 21 during weeks 6 and 7.
In 2013, Remini joined the cast of the TV Land comedy The Exes, filling a recurring role starting in season three.
Remini and her husband Angelo starred in a reality television series titled Leah Remini: It’s All Relative. The show focuses on Remini’s family life. It premiered on TLC on July 10, 2014. According to Remini, the purpose of the show is to highlight the fact that she’s a normal person just like everyone else and that celebrity doesn’t change that.
In August 2013, it was disclosed that Remini had filed a missing person report with the Los Angeles Police Department concerning Shelly Miscavige, the wife of Scientology leader David Miscavige, who had not been seen in public since 2007. After the report was filed, the Los Angeles Police Department looked into the matter, met with and spoke with her before closing the investigation and stating Remini’s report was “unfounded”. The Church said in a statement that the whole affair was simply harassment and a publicity stunt for Remini.
In October 2013, it was reported that Remini had been subpoenaed to testify in a Comal County, Texas, lawsuit against the Church of Scientology and its leader David Miscavige, regarding acts of alleged harassment and surveillance against the wife of a former member, Monique Rathbun (who was married to ex-Scientology executive Mark Rathbun). Rathbun’s attorney, Ray Jeffery, says he wants Remini, a former Scientologist, to give a deposition in the hopes she could testify that Miscavige has vast influence over the operations of the church and had to have known about the alleged harassment.
Remini released her memoir Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology on November 3, 2015. In a 2015 interview with People magazine, Remini stated that she was embracing Catholicism and found comfort in the religion’s practices, contrasting her experiences with Scientology.
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