Leah Remini: I get scared every time I talk to a former Scientologist

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The Hollywood Reporter had a reality TV roundtable discussion featuring Leah Remini, RuPaul and Kris Jenner, among others. I’ll just be covering Leah’s responses here but we’ll also have stories today on RuPaul and Kris Jenner, as everyone gave interesting quotes. There’s something about a roundtable discussion that encourages opening up, it must be similar to group therapy and I wish more outlets conducted these type of interviews.

Leah is working on the second season of her Scientology and The Aftermath show for A&E, in which she interviews former cult members. In this interview she talked a little more than we’ve heard from her about how hard that can be for her, and how she’s scared every time she talks to someone who used to be in Scientology. As a celebrity and member since childhood, Leah was somewhat insulated from the worst abuses and/or she was lucky. She said that while she’s not afraid of backlash from the cult (because she’s a total badass) she is scared about what she’ll hear from the former members.

On people understanding how dangerous Scientology is
The Church of Scientology has been in the news, but more so for fodder and a headline. What we are trying to do is show that this is a real thing that’s tearing families apart. People really had no idea. It was like, “Oh, this is that crazy thing where Tom Cruise is jumping on a couch and everybody believes in aliens?” I think that worked for a very long time to sell headlines. But we’re showing how a person actually can get there, and that’s what’s resonating. Also, we’re standing up to a bully and, in a culture where people are feeling apathetic, we’re representing a group of courageous people who are saying, “No, I’m going to do something about it.”

On if she gets nervous
I feel scared every time I sit down with somebody, even though I was in the Church of Scientology for 35 years. I was raised in it. I’m scared to hear what they’re going to tell me. [Question: Like, it's worse than you think?] Yes.

If she’s scared of the church
Oh, no, no, no. Don’t misunderstand me. People who know me know that I have a very big mouth, and I have been that way since I was a kid. I would go up against men and go, “What, what are you going to do?” They were like, “I’d knock you out in two seconds.” I’m all, “Try it, try it!” But I never want to give the organization of Scientology the idea that anybody is scared of them. We are not. And the more they react in the way that they do, it makes me think we’re doing the right thing.

On if she’s brave
I But it’s not me, that’s the thing. I wish I could say, “Look how brave I am.” I’m telling their stories. When we leave, they go back to their regular lives, and they are the ones the church goes after. When we air a show, I go, “Just know, within minutes your daughter is going to be saying horrific things about you on the church hate website.” Literally every single person who has done a story about Scientology has a hate website on them.

On if she vets the people she interviews
It’s funny you ask that because when we started the show, legal was like, “Do you know this person personally?” I said, “I don’t need to know the person. I just know that they’re telling the truth.” I thought, “How dare you. This is not somebody who is getting paid to be on this show; there are repercussions to them being on the show.” And what the hell fame would they get from saying, “I was coerced by my church to get an abortion”? Or, “I was raped by someone.” … I mean, nobody really wants to tell that story. So there is no vetting. I take their word for it. [Per an A&E spokesperson: "Although Leah does not personally vet the participants in the show, the network and production company legal teams do carefully vet people and stories featured on the program."]

[From THR]

I really like how Leah frames this every time she’s praised for doing this show. She turns it around, says she’s a loudmouth and celebrity and that she doesn’t feel as brave as the people she interviews, who are bearing the brunt of the cult’s hate and harassment. Leah also said she definitely keeps in touch with the people she interviews and she makes sure she listens to their feedback and honors their wishes about how their interviews should be edited. Plus her team told her not to do this show and she did it anyway. She’s doing incredible work and thanks to Leah and so many former Scientologists who have spoken out, Scientology has been massively weakened. That’s also coincided with the growth of the Internet too of course. It must be nearly impossible for them to get new recruits.

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photos credit: THR and Getty

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33 Responses to “Leah Remini: I get scared every time I talk to a former Scientologist”

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  1. KitKat says:

    I think she can be happy to be famous because otherwise Scientology would have an easy time to make her life hell.

    • Ramona says:

      Look, its not like they didnt try. They tried to turn her family against her when she was leaving but it backfired on them when they all chose to leave with her. They have PIs tracking her and in fact she has captured a few on camera for the show. They have a public smear campaign going against her, including sending smear letters to every show that invites her on. We also dont know how many roles she has lost as a result. I dont even want to know the kinds of stuff they did to try keep her off Kevin James new show. There are hate videos on her online etc. The one thing they havent tried is to sue her but to be fair that is a tactic they have slowed down on in the last decade. They’ve never attempted to sue Tony Ortega or many of the ex Scientologists who post openly there (and appeared on Leahs on show). In fact over the last ten years, they have only initiated a handful of lawsuits because the last thing they want is Miscavige to be deposed. Their tendency now is to wait for the critic to bring a suit, bury her with countersuits and then settle before the case progresses.

      So while Leah will be the first to admit her privilege, I think its incredibly unfair not to recognise that she is being treated EXACTLY as most of their critics are and that she just happens to be the kind of person who just dgaf.

    • tmot says:

      She is famous NOW. So, yes, she is safe now.

      But when she was a little girl, she had nothing. She and her sister were sent off to be in the Sea Org as children, and if they were late to the mess hall for dinner they had to eat crumbs out of the bottom of the toaster. It’s in her book. (Which I hear is to become a movie!) I can hardly wait!

  2. Yawn says:

    She is lucky she is famous in this case, the church can’t go at her hardcore because her fame can somewhat protect her… all these other “regular” folks don’t have that priviledge. But I give her credit, she’s got mega balls to go after the “church” the way she has- Go Leah

  3. Lalu says:

    Something about her always rubbed me the wrong way… All the way back to her “saved by the bell” days. But she seems to be a decent person and she is really strong to do what she is doing. It is hard to break away from something you were so heavily involved in like that. I really admire her for what she is doing. She can down play it but it is a big deal.

    • Denyse says:

      I find her suspect also. How “afraid” of Scientology could she be if she was willing to go public with a book and a TV show? It’s certainly been lucrative for her, and up until then, she was a has-been.

      • Merritt says:

        Scientology is losing power and they have been for several years now. Other high profile defections and Going Clear really shined a light on how twisted the organization action is before Leah started her own show.

      • Deanne says:

        Hi Xenu warrior. Always nice to see a Scientology plant amongst the comments. Usually people catch on quicker. She wasn’t a has been. She was on a hit show for a decade, and continued to work afterward, when she could have afforded not to. She’s exposing a destructive cult that she was brought into as a child and her book was her story about why she left the organization she’d dedicated her life, money and soul to for 35 years. The show isn’t about making money either, it’s about exposing the abuses of the money making cult of Scientology. There is nothing ‘suspect’ about her. She’s using her status as a celebrity to help others who’ve been abused and damaged by this group, to expose their tactic of always attack and never defend, to expose the horrific policy of disconnection and to give a platform to the regular people who’ve suffered because of this evil cult.

      • Bethy says:

        Hey @Denyse, how are your stats coming today? I hope the $50 a week you’re getting paid as a Sea Org member allows you go out and treat yourself occasionally. Welcome to CB.

        Leah’s not a “has-been,” she was on a successful TV show for years and has landed a new gig for fall. She’s a best selling author and if there’s any justice she and her crew will win an Emmy for her documentary series on A&E. Fact: Scientology separates families. Leah is only exposing their abuses.

      • Deanne says:

        @Bethy To be fair, I think Denyse is making a lot less now. You know with all of the empty Ideal Orgs being opened all over, sacrifices must be made.Not by Davey boy or Tommy, but then again, they’re special.

      • jugil1 says:

        Denyse, I can see your Scientology “Billion Year Contract” from here! Troll!

  4. damejudi says:

    I always knew she was too good for Zack Morris!

    Seriously, impressive work, Leah!

  5. LAK says:

    I think she was lucky that she became a minor celebrity very quickly as Charlie Briscoe in that tv show ‘Who’s the boss?’ followed up with various guest spots that kept her publicly visible until her big breakthrough on ‘King of Queens’. That isolated and insulated her from co$ excesses.

    Further, her family joined co$ when she was 9yrs old, so she had some grounding of what a regular life should/ could be and is probably the reason why she broke away eventually. Ditto her entire family.

    Someone born into co$ has no sense of what regular life is and would find it much harder to break away.

    • tmot says:

      Read her book. That’s not how it was. Her family had nothing. So, she saw and experienced the abuses. Yet, they cannot touch her now, because WE know who she is!

  6. Eiré says:

    I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to frame Leah as being “lucky to be famous”. While I do agree that on one level, yes, she surely is protected by it–it’s only to a degree. Scientology have been ruthless with her. And that ruthlessness has been constant. But her commitment to telling her story and using her fame to tell and share and spread the stories of others has been ruthless in its own way. She has been brave, and she has allowed other people the space to be brave, as well.

    Scientology feeds and breeds by the famous people it recruits. We know this. But it has been less common that someone dare turn those tactics around and use Scientology’s own tactics against them. It’s like Leah says–Scientology is still Xenu-loving funny weird fodder to most people, and in my book, anyone who is speaking out and doing what they can to open the eyes of those who don’t know better to the awful and often horrifying truths about this conglomerate cult, is good people. Famous or not.

  7. Luca76 says:

    Well she’s using her fame not just in a self serving way but to help others. It’s a shame people look at someone doing great good against an evil cult and choose to critique her. And if you hear her story she was shunned and mistreated y the Church after Tom Cruise’s wedding.

  8. Kitten says:

    I absolutely love her.

  9. Goldengirllover34 says:

    Between her show and Going Clear I’ve learned so much. They opened a Church of Scientology location in East Harlem a few years ago. There are rumors that they bought up blocks for cheap as a way to hide their assets and stay non profit. Watching the shows I now believe it. This one block used to house a large supermarket and stores and is now stands empty. It is a great location next to the subways and metro north and multiple bus lines in NYC. All the other Supermarkets that closed down in NYC were bought out by other stores (western beef or stop and shop) except this one stands empty. Every time in happen to be in this area I get angry bc it isn’t predominately black and Hispanic and they longer have an affordable food option.

    • Rose says:

      Thanks for sharing. I believe your theory. It’s sad that they claim to be giving back to communities and doing charitable work but IRL they are actually hurting that community. That “religion” is nothing but a money grab and I love Leah and Going Clear for exposing them. I haven’t missed an episode.

  10. Cupcake says:

    I love that last photo of her and Kevin James. Doug and Carrie are my all time favorite TV couple. I’ve seen every episode of the King of Queens more times than I care to admit.

  11. dr mantis toboggan says:

    Season 1 of her show on co$ was fantastic and I can’t wait for season 2. I thought I’d heard it all about scientology, that nothing could shock me but these people’s stories broke my heart and in some cases made my jaw hit the floor. I never cared for Leah before but now I got mad respect for her

  12. QQ says:

    This Interview, her lack of GAF and them nails is why EYE I Am A Full ON REMINISTA ( Applies for Remy Ma too)

  13. adastraperaspera says:

    Leah is saving lives. Love her.

  14. Lorene says:

    Love you….

  15. Deanne says:

    An amazing read about the lengths Scientology has gone and will go to take down their ‘enemies’, aka anyone who exposes this corrupt cult, is The Unbreakable Miss Lovely by Tony Ortega. I had nightmares after I read it and it was even better when I read it again. Kudos to Leah and Mike RInder for doing what they are doing. Also, Aaron Smith-Levin is a survivor of the Sea Org and he has an excellent youtube channel called Growing up in Scientology. All of the people who’ve told their stories on Scientology and the Aftermath are so brave and resilient. Can’t wait for Season 2.

  16. JOSE says:

    Scientology is the same type of cult as the democ rat party or islam they brain wash you as a youngster and lie to you all your life and tell you that good is bad and bad is good and anything you can do to further the cause you do without asking questions.