Childhood & Early Life
Born on June 15, 1970, in Brooklyn, New York, Leah Remini is one of the two daughters of George Remini and Vicki Marshal. Her mother worked as a schoolteacher while her father was the owner of an asbestos removal company. Vicki has Austrian Jewish ancestry and George is of Sicilian descent.
The couple raised their children in the Roman Catholic tradition. Leah has an older sister named Nicole and a brother named Michael. She also had four half-sisters, Christine, Stephanie (died in 2013), Elizabeth, and Shannon.
Her parents divorced in 1977 and her mother subsequently married Dennis Farrara, a man who was already a member of the Church of Scientology. He is the one who converted Vicki and her children to Scientology.
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Leah Remini was still a teenager when she was cast in her first acting role, in a 1988 episode of ABC’s sitcom ‘Head of the Class’. A year later, she played the recurring role of Charlie Briscoe in another ABC sitcom ‘Who’s the Boss’ and later reprised the role in the spin-off series ‘Living Dolls’, in which she starred alongside Halle Berry. However, the show was cancelled after airing 12 episodes.
In 1991, she was part of the cast of yet another short-lived sitcom that aired on ABC, ‘The Man in the Family’ and played Stacey Carosi, one of the love interests of Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) in the season three of NBC’s sitcom ‘Saved by the Bell’. She appeared in two episodes of another popular NBC sitcom, ‘Cheers’, between 1991 and 1993.
Remini did her first television film, ‘Getting Up and Going Home’, in 1992. In the following year, she appeared in three episodes of CBS’ sitcom ‘Evening Shade’. In 1994, she was cast as the voice of Sagan Cruz in the French-American animated series ‘Phantom 2040’.
She also guest-starred in the first season episode, ‘The One with the Birth’, of ‘Friends’. In 1995, she appeared as Dominique Constellano, a cynical employee of a record label, in the short-lived The WB sitcom ‘First Time Out’.
She made her cinematic debut in the 1997 film ‘Critics and Other Freaks’. She also landed her first starring role in a TV show that year. NBC’s sitcom ‘Fired Up’ was about two women, a promotions executive and her assistant, who get fired from their jobs and decide to set up their own business. Remini portrayed the assistant. The show was cancelled after two seasons.
She began starring in the series ‘The King of Queens’ in 1998. Owing to the show’s popularity, Remini’s career really took off.
In 2003, she starred alongside Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, and Vince Vaughn in the comedy film ‘Old School’. While it received mixed reviews and was a modest success at the box office at the time of its release, the film has since gained a cult status.
After ‘The King of Queens’ ended, Remini appeared in the popular web series ‘In the Motherhood’. From 2010 to 2011, she co-hosted CBS’ daytime show, ‘The Talk’, along with Sara Gilbert, Julie Chen, Aisha Tyler, Sharon Osbourne, and several others.
Remini shared screen space with J.K. Simmons and Johnny Pemberton in the ABC sitcom ‘Family Tools’ in 2013. Ten episodes were shot but the series was cancelled after airing only two. The rest of the episodes were broadcast over the summer.
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In 2013, on the 17th season of ABC’s dance competition television series ‘Dancing with the Stars’, Remini appeared as one of the contestants. Partnered with professional ballroom dancer Tony Dovolani, she was the 8th contestant to be eliminated. She returned in the 19th and 20th seasons as a guest host.
She played the recurring character Nikki Gardner in the season three and four of TV Land’s sitcom ‘The Exes’. In 2014, she starred in her own reality show, ‘Leah Remini: It's All Relative’, on TLC. Starring most of her immediate family, the show revolved around her day-to-day life as she strives to maintain a balance between her profession and family. The show has aired two seasons to date.
In 2017, she returned to the big screen after a long absence. She worked with Charlie Sheen in Fred Wolf’s directorial venture ‘Mad Families’. In Dino Montiel’s ‘The Clapper’, she played a producer named Louise.
She also appeared in ‘Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie’ alongside Jeff Garlin. Remini is co-starring with Jennifer Lopez in the upcoming romantic comedy, ‘Second Act’.
In Kevin James’ newest sitcom ‘Kevin Can Wait’, which aired on CBS, actress Erinn Hayes originally played his wife/love interest, Donna Gable. However, after the conclusion of season one, her character was killed off and she was replaced with Remini, who starred as Kevin’s former rival on the force and current partner in the security company.
The sudden replacement attracted controversy as many disapproved of how Hayes had been treated and how her character’s death was dealt with in the show. Anyway, the show was cancelled after two seasons.
Leah Remini had been a Scientologist since she was nine years old and was a vocal advocate of the Church for several years. In 2013, she quit the Church after disagreeing with its policies of disallowing the members the ability to question the management of the church leader David Miscavige, which she considered as corrupt.
Furthermore, she believed that the behaviours of some of the most prominent members of the Church, including Miscavige and actor Tom Cruise, were not in accord with the Church rules.
Her sister Nicole had left the Church before Remini. After Remini left, the rest of her family followed suit as they did not want to be split up.
On November 3, 2015, she published her memoir, ‘Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology’, through Ballantine Books. She later revealed in an interview with ‘People’ magazine that she has rediscovered her faith in Catholicism.
Since 2016, she has been serving as one of the executive producers of ‘Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath’, a documentary series that looks into certain practices of the Church through the experiences of Remini and others.
She also serves as one of the hosts of the series along with Mike Rinder, another former member of the Church. Airing on A&E, the series won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Informational Series or Special in 2017.