Leah Remini was born in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and moved to Los Angeles at the age of 13. She has been a professional actress since she was a child, when she was cast to star in the television series Living Dolls, a spin-off of Who’s The Boss. That comedy began a distinguished line of television work with starring roles in television series such as Man in the Family, Fired Up, Saved By The Bell, with recurring roles on shows like Cheers, Evening Shade, Friends among many others. She has had memorable guest appearances on NYPD Blue and other popular shows.
Leah stars opposite Kevin James and Jerry Stiller in one of CBS’ top-rated shows The King of Queens, now in its fifth season and about to go into worldwide syndication. Leah plays Carrie Heffernan, a New York wife and legal secretary.
Leah also stars in the movie Old School, a Dreamworks & Ivan Reitman’s Montecito Picture Company production, which will be released in theaters shortly. She will star opposite Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn, as Vince’s wife in the romantic comedy. Outside of acting, Leah is creating a production company with which she plans to produce her own projects. Leah also has begun working on her favorite project, The Inglewood Mission of Scientology.
This month, Leah talks to Celebrity magazine about how Scientology helped make her success as an actress possible.
CELEBRITY: How did you end up getting into Scientology?
LEAH: Let me give you a little info here. As you know, I was born in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. I was the typical Brooklyn girl, doing important things like hanging out in front of the candy store with my girls every day. Back then it was all about the Jordache jeans, smoking, boys, ya know, the normal stuff. I also had at the time a typical mother. When you cut class and she found out, there was no talking. It was, “Get in your room! You’re punished!” or the ol’ “Wait till your fatha’ gets home!” Not a whole lot of talking goin’ on there.
When I was about eleven, my mother got into Scientology and I noticed a change in her immediately. All of a sudden there was real communication going on in the house. She said to me, “Listen, if you ever do anything that you feel not good about, I want you to tell me.” She would explain that she wouldn’t be mad at me if I told her the bad things I had done. There was a talk about drugs and what they do to the mind and how she hoped that we’d make the right decisions. And IF we didn’t, to please tell her. I tested her once by giving her a little misdeed and she thanked me for telling her. She then showed me The Way to Happiness booklet.
There was a drastic change in the way she dealt with my sister and me. My sister and I are very close in age, so there was a whole lotta fighting. When you’re a kid, you do stupid stuff like divide the room up with tape, you don’t talk to each other, etc. My mom taught us to do TR-0 [the first TR, short for Training Drills or Training Routines, which help the individual better confront and handle his environment and life] with each other when we fought. This actually changed us as sisters, because we of course loved each other because we were sisters, but now having to sit there and really confront her made her not just my sister, but another human being. I always ended up bursting into tears and saying, “I’m sorry! I love you. It was my fault!” And she’d say crying, “No, it was my fault!”
The Way to Happiness was also instrumental in our introduction to knowing Scientology worked, because growing up I wasn’t raised with any real moral values. So when I was shown The Way to Happiness, it gave me something good to believe in, to strive for and it just made basic sense to me. Because I had read this, my sister and I never tried pot or any other drug, we tried to be as honest as we could be, we worked towards being better than what was around us and what was okay for other people was not okay for us. It was just a higher ethic level.
CELEBRITY: So your mother helped get you started in Scientology?
LEAH: I can’t say enough about my mother. She really saved our lives by getting us involved in Scientology. Growing up, my friends’ attitudes toward their parents were, if they don’t want you to do something, that’s exactly what you do. They were always looking for a way to “get one over on them” — even though they got hit or punished. But my mother and I had open communication between us and I didn’t want to rebel against her. If I felt bad about something, I would tell her and she would respond with, “Thank you for telling me that. I know that it was hard to admit.” I felt safe then. My friends saw their parents as their “barriers to fun.” My mom was my rock.
CELEBRITY: You’ve received a lot of auditing and achieved the State of Clear. What are some of the changes you have noticed in your life as a result?
LEAH: Well, a short answer is this: I used to be at “effect” of auditions and even jobs. I would go to an audition and even before showing up I was already beating myself up. I would really do a number on myself. It would start out pretty well mentally. I’d say, “Oh, man I am so gettin’ this part.” Then right after that thought would come a flood of negativity, like “Oh Leah, you stink. Ya can’t act. You’re from Brooklyn, you’re not gonna get this. Oh, you should have been nicer to your mom yesterday, now you’re really not gonna get this.” Ya know, just weird negative thoughts and I wasn’t even there yet! Or after the audition, I would do the lines over and over and go like “Man! That’s what you should have done,” etc. The torture never ended. After I received auditing on the Grades and attested to Clear, I just go, do it and get it or not get it. The drama is not there anymore. The constant need to beat myself up is not there. It’s just an audition and that’s pretty much how I look at life now. I remember the days where I would get into stuff with my man, my family, friends and co-workers — it would be DRAMA for days. Now, I look at these things like they were just an argument, or a bad day. I don’t spend days, hours or weeks being mad at people, talking about how right I am. When you’re Clear you just see things for what they are.
Also, when I got the job, I still wasn’t happy. It was like nothing made me happy. I would say, “Oh, I just need this job and everything will be okay,” and I’d still find something to be miserable about. If it wasn’t that, then it would be “Oh, I just need a house,” then I’d still be miserable. After the Grades and going Clear, I realized that no matter where you are and what you have, you have to be good with you. Bottom line. I realized that I, by myself, can make my life go well or not, regardless of how others treat me. Your power comes from you and not from other sources. You can have what you want in life and be happy. All you have to do is decide what you want and take actions to work towards that goal. As you do
Scientology, the power that is already in you is able to come out more and more. Life is a game. I myself thought it was a struggle prior to doing Scientology, but that has changed.
I felt a real sense of peace when I achieved the State of Clear. I’m not particularly a “happy-go-lucky girl.” I mean, people can sometimes have this idea that when you go Clear, you’re like this person who’s never in a bad mood, eating granola and just loving everyone in the world. I’m still me. I mean I still get annoyed at things, but now I am in control of my emotions. I control me. I no longer feel like this mass of blackness surrounds me. The Grades strip away everyday life stuff that holds you back in general — where you think, “Oh, that’s just the way I am. There’s nothing that can handle that.” There is.
CELEBRITY: You are a successful actress with an incredibly busy schedule. How do you deal with the schedule constraints and still fit in time for progress up The Bridge?
LEAH: It’s important to stay connected up and be doing something that is moving you up The Bridge. Look, I was the one with the excuses: “I’m busy. I have too many responsibilities.
I’m working on my career. I’m not a superstar — I can’t go on course whenever I want. I got auditing already. I have a dog at home. I’m in the studio. I don’t feel well. I have to get my nails done. It’s part of my job as an actress,” — whatever. The point is, I have never felt better than when I am on course or getting auditing. My life is no longer about what this one did
to me, what I did to them — all that nonsense that goes on. It’s about moving on The Bridge so you get to be the great person that you are. Then it’s about you getting others there. I
mean, who was I lying to before? My supervisor? For what? To endanger my own survival? This is some serious stuff we are doing here. We are the only group that can make real
change on this planet. We have a huge responsibility. I’m not saying things don’t get in the way and that you need to be perfect. But know your own nonsense and know that in the end,
you’re the one responsible for the condition you are in.
CELEBRITY: Do you have anything to say to other actors and actresses?
LEAH: Bottom line, there are things about you that are designed for one reason — to make you fail. We all do it. There are things that inhibit you and inhibit your ability to reach. What I mean by “reach” is, like say you’re single, you’ve been cheated on, you haven’t had good experiences with men — whatever. So your first reaction is “Forget it, I’m never going out with another guy again.” Well, you’ve just cut your reach toward that area of your life. The purpose here is to get us all doing great in all areas of our lives — ALL areas. So, auditing gets all that “garbage” out of there so you can reach in all areas of your life. Have you ever thought, “What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?” That’s what auditing does. You all of a sudden reach out, where before you wouldn’t — or more so, where you couldn’t. You no longer feel that your life stinks, you stink, life is out of your control, and who’s really happy anyway?
And it’s not just for actors. It doesn’t matter what you do, you need it. If you don’t think you need it, you have a serious denial issue. We all need some help. We all need real friends, especially in this business. Auditors and staff members to me are like that good friend who always tells you the right thing to do or points you in the right direction. To know that these people are here to make you better is so comforting.
CELEBRITY: Anything else you’d like to say?
LEAH: One more thing. September 11th was a real wake-up call — we all saw true evil and witnessed something truly incomprehensible. At the same time, we came together, and we
showed each other love and compassion. There is hope. There is a lot of work to do and yes, you too are responsible for your brother. We all have a responsibility to each other. So,
helping yourself is also about enabling yourself to help someone else.
I want to also take this opportunity to thank my supervisors and auditors for not giving up on me and for treating me with love and kindness. The same with the church itself.
I want to remind people why the staff are here. They are here to help. That is their sole reason for being there. Be honest with them. Let them know what’s really going on with you, so they can get you moving on The Bridge. Tell your supervisor what’s getting to you — what you really don’t understand. They will get you through it. Just get on with it. Especially now, with what is going on with this planet. Can you imagine what this place would be like if we were all Clear? Forget about it! LRH gave us a huge gift. Let’s give back. I want to thank all of those who already do that. You are an inspiration.1
- Celebrity Interview with Leah Remini. Celebrity 342 (2002). Published by Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre International. ↩