Leah Remini

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Leah Remini
Remini in 2018
Leah Marie Remini

(1970-06-15) June 15, 1970 (age 53)
New York City, U.S.
EducationNew York University (currently attending)
  • Actress
  • activist
Years active1988–present
Angelo Pagán
(m. 2003)

Leah Marie Remini (/ˈrɛmɪni/; born June 15, 1970) is an American actress. She starred as Carrie Heffernan on the 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.[1][2]

Remini coproduced and hosted the A&E documentary series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath (2016–2019), for which she won two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Hosted Nonfiction Series or Special. She also cohosted the daytime talk show The Talk (2010–2011). Remini's films include the comedy Old School (2003), the mystery comedy Handsome (2017), and the romantic comedy Second Act (2018).

After being a member of the Church of Scientology from childhood, Remini left the organization in 2013. Two years later, Remini released her book, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology; the memoir became number one on the New York Times best-seller list. In 2016, she followed up with an Emmy Award-winning documentary television series on A&E, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, where she created a platform for victims and survivors of Scientology.

Since July 2020, Remini has been the cohost of the podcast Scientology: Fair Game, alongside Mike Rinder.[3]

Early life[edit]

Leah Marie Remini was born on June 15, 1970,[4] in Brooklyn, New York City, to Vicki Marshall and George Remini,[5] who owned an asbestos removal company.[6] Her mother is of Austrian Jewish descent, while her father has Italian ancestry, rooted in Sicily.[7][8][9] Remini was raised in Bensonhurst.[10]

Remini was baptized into the Catholic Church as an infant[11] and raised in the faith during her early childhood.[12] When she was eight years old, her mother joined the Church of Scientology, and Remini was thereafter raised as a Scientologist.[13] At 13 years old, Remini and sister Nicole were taken to join Scientology's Paramilitary organization called the Sea Organization, where they were forced to sign billion-year contracts and work for their room and board. Sea Org children do not live with their parents, are treated as adults, and work around the clock. Remini's mother decided to take her children out of the Sea Org and return to civilian Scientology life within the same year. Remini moved to Los Angeles, California, with her mother and sisters, where she spent the remainder of her teenage years working to pay off their debt to Scientology. This debt, known as a Freeloader Debt or Freeloader Bill, is a retroactive billing for any auditing received or any Scientology training received while in the Sea Org, and can run into tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition, Remini and her family worked regular jobs to pay for continuing Scientology courses and services.[7]


Film and television[edit]

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.[14][15]

In 1991, Remini had a supporting role as Tina Bovasso on ABC's sitcom 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 1991 and 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, she starred in Quaker State's television commercials in 2000 and 2001.[16][17]

Remini had a supporting role in the comedy film Old School (2003). She also starred in her own reality show, Inside Out: Leah Remini, which was a documentary that aired on VH1 about Remini's wedding. Following the success of the wedding special, VH1 documented the next phase of their lives with the birth of her daughter Sofia Bella. Remini has 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.[18] Remini and Holly Robinson Peete appeared on The Young and the Restless on July 28, 2011.[19]

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.[20][21]

Remini competed on season 17 of Dancing with the Stars, in which she was partnered with professional dancer Tony Dovolani.[22] 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.

In 2013, Remini joined the cast of the TV Land comedy The Exes, filling a recurring role starting in season three.[23] Remini created, produced and 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.[24]

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.[25] Ultimately, NBC passed on the project and it wasn't picked up to series.[26] In March 2017, it was announced Remini would reunite with Kevin James on the season finale of Kevin Can Wait.[27][28] In June 2017, it was announced Remini was upped to a series regular beginning with season two.[29][30] In May 2018, the series was cancelled by the network after two seasons.[31] In 2017, Remini co-starred in the comedy films Mad Families, The Clapper, and Handsome. In 2018, she starred as Joan, opposite Jennifer Lopez, in the romantic comedy film Second Act.[32][33]

In 2020 Remini & her production company, No, Seriously Productions signed a production deal with Critical Content. In June 2022, Remini was named a judge on the seventeenth season of Fox's dance competition series So You Think You Can Dance, replacing Matthew Morrison.[34][35][36]

Remini began 2021 as the host of the Game Show Network original series People Puzzler.[37]

The Talk[edit]

Remini was a co-host in the first season of the CBS daytime talk show, The Talk, which premiered October 18, 2010. The other co-hosts were Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert, Holly Robinson Peete, and Sharon Osbourne. The show, similar to The View, seeks to address motherhood and contemporary issues.[38] In March 2012, a heavily publicized Twitter dispute ignited between Remini and Osbourne when Remini fired back at Osbourne, Osbourne making criticisms of Remini and Holly Robinson Peete on The Howard Stern Show in relation to their contracts not being renewed for The Talk. 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.[39][40] 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.[39]

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."[39][41] Remini tweeted a challenge to Osbourne to establish in a court of law what statements she (Remini) had made that were untrue.[39]

Friction in relation to these matters resurfaced in the media in early 2021 when Osbourne was embroiled in a scandal over her remarks made on The Talk to Sheryl Underwood and ultimately terminated from the program over them. Both Peete and Remini took to social media to reproach Osbourne over her conduct in relation to the scandal, pointing out that they had been treated similarly by her, charging Osbourne with additional discriminatory behaviors as well. Osbourne responded with threats of defamation lawsuits against Peete and Remini, but ultimately did nothing.[42][43]

Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath[edit]

Remini developed a series for A&E focusing on ex-Scientologists speaking about their experiences, entitled Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. The show premiered November 29, 2016.[44] In a statement released by the network, Remini 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.[45]

The documentary series received many awards in its three seasons: two Emmys, Reality Television Awards 2017 for hosting, 2018 NATPE Unscripted Breakthrough Awards for Best Innovation, 2019 Truth to Power Award, CHILD USA 2019 Barbara Blaine Trailblazer Award, and two Gracie Awards presented by the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation (for On-Air Talent - Lifestyle and Entertainment and for Non-Fiction Entertainment).


Remini released her memoir, entitled Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, on November 3, 2015.[46]

Personal life[edit]


Remini was a member of the Church of Scientology from the age of nine.[8][13][47]

In July 2013, Remini left Scientology,[48] 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" and the fair gaming tactics that Scientology has used for decades.

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 did not "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.[49][50][51]

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.[48] Following her departure from Scientology, she publicly expressed her appreciation for those who supported her departure.[52][53] Remini's sister Nicole, who had earlier left Scientology herself,[54] revealed that the rest of their family left the Church along with Remini to avoid being split up by the disconnection policy.[55][56] 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".[57]

In August 2013, it was disclosed that Remini had filed a missing person report with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) concerning Shelly Miscavige, the wife of Scientology leader David Miscavige, who--as of 2013--had not been seen in public since 2007.[58] After the report was filed, the LAPD looked into the matter, met and spoke with Shelly Miscavige 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.[59][60][61]

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 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.[47]

In 2023, Remini sued the Church of Scientology and David Miscavige, accusing them of harassment, stalking, psychological torture, and operating an over ten-year campaign to ruin and destroy Remini's life and livelihood.[62]


In a 2015 interview with People, Remini talked about her embrace of Catholicism, the comfort she was finding in the religion's practices, and how this contrasted with her experience of Scientology.[63][64]


Remini met actor Angelo Pagán[65] at a Cuban restaurant in 1996.[66] Pagán has three sons from previous relationships. He and Remini were married in Las Vegas by a Scientologist minister on July 19, 2003.[67] Their daughter Sofia was born on June 16, 2004.[68] In September 2015, when Sofia was eleven years old, her parents celebrated her baptism into the Catholic Church.[63][64]


Remini had left school with just an 8th-grade education, which she attributes to her involvement with the Scientology cult.[69] In May 2021, Remini was accepted into an associate degree program in liberal arts at New York University, saying:[70][71][72]

For someone like me, a person who desperately wanted a higher education and options in my life, coming from a cult and a family who didn't value an education, this is a very big day for me. This didn't come easy. This is one of the last chunks of my life that I am taking back for myself from Scientology.[72]

In 2023, after completing her second year at NYU, Remini expressed how "undertaking this educational journey has been one of the most difficult experience of my life."[69]



Year Film Role Notes
1997 Critics and Other Freaks Actress at Audition
1998 Follow Your Heart Angie LaRocca
2003 Old School Lara Campbell
2017 Mad Families Cheyenne
The Clapper Producer Louise
Handsome Esta
2018 Second Act Joan


Year Title Role Notes
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
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 26 episodes
2018 Mean Jean Jean Television pilot[73][74]
2020 The Masked Singer Guest panelist Episode: "Masking for a Friend: Group A"
2021–present People Puzzler Host 99 episodes
2022 So You Think You Can Dance Judge Season 17

Video games[edit]

Year Title Voice role Notes
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[edit]

Year Association Category Work Result Ref.
2015 American Reality Television Awards Reality Royalty Leah Remini: It's All Relative Won [75]
2017 23rd Television Critics Association Awards Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath Won
69th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Informational Series or Special Won [76]
2018 NATPE Unscripted Breakthrough Awards Best Innovation Won
29th Producers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television Won
70th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Informational Series or Special Nominated [77]
American Reality Television Awards Host Won [78]
2019 CHILD USA Barbara Blaine Trailblazer Award Won
30th Producers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television Nominated [79]
35th IDA Documentary Awards Truth to Power Award Won
9th Critics Choice Television Awards Impact Award Won
44th Gracie Awards On-Air Talent - Lifestyle and Entertainment Award Won
44th Gracie Awards Non-Fiction Entertainment Won [80]
71st Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Informational Series or Special Nominated [77]
2020 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Hosted Nonfiction Series or Special Won



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