Leah Marie Remini (//; born June 15, 1970) is an American actress 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.
Leah Marie Remini
June 15, 1970
New York City, U.S.
Remini co-produced 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 co-hosted on 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).
Raised as 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 the two-time 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. 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).
Leah Marie Remini was born on June 15, 1970, in Brooklyn, New York City, to Vicki Marshall 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 was raised in Bensonhurst.
Remini was baptized Roman Catholic and raised in the Catholic tradition during her early childhood. When Remini was eight years old, her mother joined the Church of Scientology, and Remini was thereafter raised as a Scientologist. At 13 years old, Remini and sister Nicole were then 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, and children of the Sea Org 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 when Remini was thirteen years old. 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 called a Freeloader's Debt. Remini and family worked regular jobs to pay for Scientology services.
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.
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 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, 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, VH-1 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. Remini and Holly Robinson Peete appeared on The Young and the Restless on July 28, 2011.
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.
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. In May 2018, the series was cancelled by the network after two seasons.
In 2020 Remini & her production company, No, Seriously Productions signed a production deal with Critical Content and continues to create content that is both entertaining and continuing to speak truth to power.
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. 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. 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." Remini tweeted a challenge to Osbourne to establish in a court of law what statements she (Remini) had made that were untrue.
Friction in relation to these matters resurfaced in the media in early 2021 when Osbourne was embroiled into a scandal over 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.
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 and husband Angelo baptized their daughter Sofia as a Catholic.
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" 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.
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, the wife of Scientology leader David Miscavige, who has not been seen in public since 2007. After the report was filed, the LAPD looked into the matter, met 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 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. 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.
|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||Guest panelist||Episode: "Masking for a Friend: Group A"|
|2021||People Puzzler||Host||Game Show Network series|
|1993||Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers||Grace Nakimura|
Awards and nominationsEdit
|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|||
|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|||
|2019||CHILD USA||Barbara Blaine Trailblazer Award||Won|
|30th Producers Guild of America Awards||Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television||Nominated|||
|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|||
|71st Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Informational Series or Special||Nominated|||
|2020||72nd Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Hosted Nonfiction Series or Special||Won|
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- Del Rosario, Alexandra (March 13, 2021). "Sharon Osbourne Responds After Holly Robinson Peete Claims Her Former 'The Talk' Co-Host Said She Was "Too Ghetto" For CBS Show – Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 25, 2021.
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- "Angelo Pagán". IMDb.
- Mentioned on the Joe Rogan Experience in February 2017
- "I Do, I Do, I Do!". People. 60 (8). August 25, 2003.
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- "New Details on Why Leah Remini Left Scientology", abcnews.go.com, July 18, 2013.
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Former Scientologist Leah Remini tells PEOPLE she finds peace "sitting and praying and doing my rosary"
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