Remini in 2018
Leah Marie Remini
June 15, 1970
Angelo Pagán (m. 2003)
Leah Marie Remini (//; born June 15, 1970) is an American actress, author, and activist. She starred as Carrie Heffernan on the long-running CBS sitcom The King of Queens (1998–2007) and as Vanessa Celluci in the CBS sitcom Kevin Can Wait (2017–2018), both alongside Kevin James.
Remini also co-hosted on the daytime talk show The Talk (2010–2011). She co-produced and hosted the A&E documentary series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath (2016–2019), for which she received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Informational Series or Special. Remini's films include the comedy Old School (2003), the mystery comedy Handsome (2017), and the romantic comedy Second Act (2018).
Raised as a member of the Church of Scientology from childhood, Remini left the organization in 2013 and began public criticism of the organization. Two years later, she released Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, her memoir about her experience with Scientology and reasons for leaving it. She followed up the book with the aforementioned series to highlight other former Scientologists' experiences.
Leah Remini was born June 15, 1970, in Brooklyn, New York City, to Vicki Marshall, a schoolteacher, and George Remini, who owned an asbestos removal company. Her mother is of Austrian-Jewish descent, while her father has Italian ancestry, rooted in Sicily. Remini has a brother, Michael, an older sister named Nicole and four half-sisters: Christine, Stephanie, Elizabeth, and Shannon. Stephanie died of cancer in 2013. The siblings were raised in Bensonhurst.
Remini was baptized 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 13 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 twelve 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 playing Stacey Carosi, and on Evening Shade as Taylor Newton's (Jay R. Ferguson) girlfriend, Daisy. 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, Lydia, whose delivery is aided by Joey. 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, Remini had a supporting role in the comedy film Old School (2003). She also starred in her own reality show, which aired on VH1. After The King of Queens ended, Remini starred in nine-episode webisodes of In the Motherhood, along with Chelsea Handler and Jenny McCarthy, and made two guest appearances on Handler's talk show Chelsea Lately. On December 15, 2009, Remini appeared as Carrie Heffernan on Lopez Tonight with George Lopez 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 tenth week of competition and reached fifth place. Remini later returned in season 19 as a guest co-host on week six. She returned as guest co-host on season 21 during weeks six and seven.
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 early 2017, Remini returned to acting and was announced as one of the leads in NBC's sitcom What About Barb?, a gender-swapped version of the 1991 Frank Oz comedy What About Bob?. She portrayed Suzanne, a renowned psychotherapist and best-selling author. Ultimately, NBC passed on the project and it wasn't picked up to series. In March 2017, it was announced Remini would reunite with Kevin James on the season finale of Kevin Can Wait. In June 2017, it was announced Remini was upped to a series regular beginning with season two.
Remini was a co-host on The Talk, a CBS talk show which premiered October 18, 2010. Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert, Holly Robinson Peete, and Sharon Osbourne were her co-hosts. The show is similar to The View and seeks to address motherhood and contemporary issues. Remini drew criticism within the first week of the show's debut, accused of being too loud, brash, and obtrusive. It was stated on one episode that she had received a significant amount of negative Twitter feedback on this subject. Remini addressed the issue, stating she refused to change who she is and asserting that thousands of fans like her for who she is. Her co-hosts supported her response.
A refusal to disclose why Remini and Peete were fired from The Talk brought on a great deal of criticism of the show and protests from the stars' fans. While there was much speculation that Chen had involvement in the decision, as she is married to then-CBS President/CEO Leslie Moonves, it was Osbourne who stated, regarding their dismissals, in December 2011 on The Howard Stern Show: "Some people don't really know who they are. And you have to know who you are when you're in something like this. You can't pretend to be something you're not. You have to know your brand. You can't be all things to everyone." Osbourne replied to criticism about the refusal to inform Remini and Peete why they were let go, rhetorically stating, "Why should we call them to discuss?"
In March 2012, a heavily publicized Twitter dispute ignited between Remini and Osbourne when Remini fired back at Osbourne for her comments on The Howard Stern Show. In response to questions from her Twitter followers, Remini tweeted:
Ask Sharon. She had us fired ... Sharon thought me and Holly were too 'Ghetto'. (her words) we were not funny, awkward and didn't know ourselves. Haters Gon' Hate. True. But, Haters have the balls to say they 'Hate' ... not call themselves your friend. She had us fired all the while calling me and Holly her friend. Heartbreaking. Yes. She had us fired she told Howard Stern. Explains why she never called us back.
In response, Osbourne tweeted, "I had absolutely nothing to do with her departure from the show and have no idea why she continues to take to Twitter to spread this false gossip." Leah knows that I have never been in the position to hire or fire anyone on the show. That being said, my only wish is that Leah would just stop all this negative, unprofessional and childish behavior. It's been seven months. It's time to move on. Leah is a very talented actress and I only wish her happiness and success. I know that better things are to come if she can just get beyond this negativity." Remini tweeted a challenge to Osbourne to establish in a court of law what statements she (Remini) had made that were untrue.
While co-hosting The Talk, Remini turned down various parts on sitcoms, stating that any new role would make her feel as if she were cheating on Doug Heffernan, her character's husband on The King of Queens. She added that she needs to spend more time with her child and family.
Remini met actor Angelo Pagán at a Cuban restaurant in 1996. He has three sons from previous relationships. They were married on July 19, 2003. Their daughter, Sofia, was born on June 16, 2004, one day after Remini's 34th birthday.
Remini was a member of the Church of Scientology from the age of nine. In December 2005, she helped the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) to promote the gala opening of the Psychiatry: An Industry of Death museum on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Responding to criticism of Scientology during an interview on CNN:
If somebody is going to get turned off about something because of what they read or heard, then that person's not smart enough to even enter a church. If you're really against something, then know what you're against.— Leah Remini, CNN interview
In July 2013, Remini left Scientology, owing to policies that forbid members from questioning the management of Church leader David Miscavige, which she believed was corrupt; the reported abuse of members of its Sea Org religious order; its policy of "disconnection"; and its practice of branding those who have left the Church of their own accord as "Suppressive Persons".
According to former high-ranking Sea Org member Mike Rinder, Remini's problems with Scientology began when she asked about the whereabouts of Miscavige's wife Shelly at the 2006 wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, and was told by then-spokesman Tommy Davis that she didn't "have the fucking rank" to do so. Remini then filed a "knowledge report" in which she asserted that Miscavige, Cruise, and other senior Scientology members engaged in behavior that was inconsistent with Church rules. She was subsequently "subjected to years of 'interrogations' and 'thought modification'" that led to her being blackballed within Scientology. Fellow parishioners with whom Remini had been friends for decades wrote internal reports about her, resulting in a Church investigation into her family.
During a September 9, 2013, appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Remini discussed her departure from Scientology and the loss of friends who are still in the Church who, according to Remini, are not permitted to have contact with her. Following her departure from Scientology, she publicly expressed her appreciation for those who supported her departure. Remini's sister Nicole, who had earlier left Scientology herself, revealed that the rest of their family left the Church along with Remini to avoid being split up by the disconnection policy. Writer and director Paul Haggis, who had previously been the most famous person to publicly disavow Scientology, wrote an open letter, published by The Hollywood Reporter, thanking Remini for standing by him after he left Scientology and praised her "enormous amount of integrity and compassion".
In August 2013, it was disclosed that Remini had filed a missing person report with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) concerning Shelly Miscavige, who has not been seen in public since 2007. After the report was filed, the LAPD looked into the matter, met with and spoke with Shelly before closing the investigation, and stated Remini's report was "unfounded". Scientology 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 lawsuit in Comal County, Texas against Scientology and David Miscavige, regarding acts of alleged harassment and surveillance against Monique Rathbun, who was married to ex-Scientology executive Mark Rathbun. Monique Rathbun's attorney, Ray Jeffery, said he wanted 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. Remini developed an eight-episode series for A&E focusing on ex-Scientologists speaking candidly about their experiences, entitled Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. The show premiered November 29, 2016. In a statement released by the network Leah said:
For too long, this multi-billion-dollar organization bullied victims and journalists to prevent the truth from being told. It is my hope that we shed light on information that makes the world aware of what is really going on and encourages others to speak up so the abuses can be ended forever.
|1997||Critics and Other Freaks||Actress at Audition|
|1998||Follow Your Heart||Angie LaRocca|
|2003||Old School||Lara Campbell|
|The Clapper||Producer Louise|
|1988||Head of the Class||Unknown||Episode: "Let's Rap"|
|1989||Who's the Boss?||Charlie Briscoe||2 episodes|
|Living Dolls||Main role (12 episodes)|
|1990||Normal Life||Carol||Episode: "And Baby Makes ..."|
|1991||Paradise||Rose||Episode: "Out of the Ashes"|
|The Hogan Family||Joanne||Episode: "A Sneaking Suspicion"|
|The Man in the Family||Tina Bavasso||Main role (7 episodes)|
|Saved by the Bell||Stacey Carosi||6 episodes|
|1991–1993||Cheers||Serafina Tortelli||2 episodes|
|1992||Blossom||Ellen||Episode: "You Must Remember This"|
|Getting Up and Going Home||Stephanie O'Neil||Television film|
|1993||Evening Shade||Daisy||3 episodes|
|Harlan & Merleen||Frankie||Television pilot|
|1994||The Commish||Gail Ross||Episode: "Sergeant Kelly"|
|Renegade||Tina||Episode: "The King and I"|
|1994–1996||Phantom 2040||Sagan Cruz (voice)||Main role (22 episodes)|
|1995||Diagnosis: Murder||Agnes Benedetto||Episode: "How to Murder Your Lawyer"|
|Friends||Lydia||Episode: "The One with the Birth"|
|First Time Out||Dominique Costellano||Main role (12 episodes)|
|1996||Biker Mice from Mars||Carbine (voice)||2 episodes|
|Home Improvement||Maria Gomez||Episode: "The Bud Bowl"|
|NYPD Blue||Angela Bohi||Episode: "Closing Time"|
|1997–1998||Fired Up||Terry Reynolds||Main role (28 episodes)|
|1998–2007||The King of Queens||Carrie Heffernan||Main role (207 episodes)|
|1999||Hooves of Fire||Vixen (voice)||Television film; American dub|
|2002||Legend of the Lost Tribe||Koala (voice)|
|2003||VH1 Inside Out: Leah Remini's Wedding Special||Herself||Television documentary|
|2004||VH1 Inside Out: Leah Remini's Baby Special|
|2005||Fat Actress||Episode: "The Koi Effect"|
|2007–2008||In the Motherhood||Kim||8 episodes|
|2009||Lopez Tonight||Carrie Heffernan||Episode: "December 15, 2009"|
|Married Not Dead||Jessica||Television pilot|
|It Takes a Village||Karen|
|2010–2011||The Talk||Herself / Co-Host||135 episodes|
|2011||Toddlers and Tiaras: Where Are They Now?||Juana||Television short|
|2012||The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange||Polly Prune / Butch Ravioli (voice)||2 episodes|
|2013||Family Tools||Terry Baumgardner||Main role (10 episodes)|
|2013–2014||Phineas and Ferb||Doreen / Mean Woman||2 episodes|
|2013–2015; 2019||Dancing with the Stars||Herself||Contestant (season 17)|
Guest co-host (season 19; week 6, season 21; weeks 6-7)
Guest judge (season 28; week 4)
|2014||RuPaul's Drag Race||Herself / Guest Judge||Episode: "Glamazon by Colorevolution"|
|Hollywood Game Night||Herself||Episode: "A Hollywood Scandal"|
|2014–2015||The Exes||Nikki Gardner||15 episodes|
|Leah Remini: It's All Relative||Herself||26 episodes; also executive producer|
|2015||Repeat After Me||Episode: "#1.5"|
|2016–2018||Match Game||Herself / Panelist||4 episodes|
|2016–2019||Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath||Herself||37 episodes; also executive producer|
|2017||Milo Murphy's Law||Ms. Baxter (voice)||Episode: "The Substitute/Time Out"|
|What About Barb?||Dr. Suzanne Marvin||Television pilot|
|2017–2018||Kevin Can Wait||Vanessa Cellucci||Main role (26 episodes)|
|2018||Mean Jean||Jean||Television pilot|
|2020||The Masked Singer||Herself / Guest Panelist||Episode: "Masking for a Friend: Group A"|
|1993||Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers||Grace Nakimura|
- Remini, Leah (2015). Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology. Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-1101886960.
Awards and nominations
|2017||69th Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Informational Series or Special||Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath||Won|||
|2018||29th Producers Guild of America Awards||Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television||Won|||
|70th Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Informational Series or Special||Nominated|||
|2019||30th Producers Guild of America Awards||Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television||Nominated|||
|71st Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Informational Series or Special||Nominated|||
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- Mentioned on the Joe Rogan Experience in February 2017
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