Leah Remini broke her silence about the church of Scientology in a big way on Friday’s episode of “20/20,” but there were a few things that really grabbed our attention during her interview.
1. Leah Remini Believes The Church Exploited Her As A Child for Labor
Unlike many of Scientology’s more famous believers, Leah’s been in the church since she was a child. The actress told 20/20 that her mother brought them into the religion when she was younger, signing them up for the strict sect Sea Organization.
There she learned that being a Scientologist is hard work–particularly for young members of the church. “You live in roach-infested dorms with other children,” Leah stated. “[You] could go from working in a laundry room to working industrial sanders.”
2. There Was A LOT Of Trouble At Tom Cruise’s Wedding For Leah
Tom Cruise’s wedding to Katie Holmes was a grand event with a star-studded guest list rivaled only by most major awards shows. According to Leah, the church may have had a lot to do with that.
Jennifer Lopez, who is one of Leah’s oldest friends, was on-hand for the nuptials. “The church was really the one who invited them, on Tom’s behalf,” Leah explained. Once J.Lo and her then-husband got there, Leah claimed the church did everything it could to keep them apart. She implied that the church may have seen the wedding as a chance to recruit some famous new members.
“They were always trying to extract me,” she said. “I could only assume because they wanted to make Jennifer a Scientologist and maybe I was barring that road for them.”
There was also some drama between Leah and the head of the Scientologist church, David Miscavige, after she questioned why his wife was not on-hand for the wedding.
After the wedding, the bride even stated in writing that Leah’s behavior, spoiled her big day. “It starts with, ‘I was dismayed at the behavior of Leah Remini during the events leading up to our wedding … At the wedding, the behavior as a guest, a friend … was very upsetting,’” Leah read from the complaint. Katie has since apologized for reporting her fellow actress.
3. Leah Was Kicked Out Of Sea Org
Leah revealed that she and her sister were pulled from formal schooling when she was in 8th grade so that they could study Scientology full time. As part of Sea Org they signed a 1 billion-year contract, and made to follow a strict set of rules.
When the girls started getting involved with boys, they were hashly punished. They also faced ethics charges for their relationships.
When you have screwed up royally in the Sea Org, it’s basically to reform you,” Leah stated. “You have to wear black. You have to run everywhere you go. You have to call everyone ‘sir.’ It’s pretty severe punishment for an adult, not to mention a child.”
Eventually, Leah was dimissed from Sea Org for not meeting it moral standards.
4. Leah Credits Scientology With Helping Her Acting Career
There have long been whispers that being Scientologist can help make aspiring entertainers reach the top. Leah didn’t deny these rumors, but she said that it aided her career by boosting her confidence.
“There’s tools that are very, very helpful to you and your life, to you as an actor,” she said. “So I walked into a room, where some people might cower in from of a casting director — I wasn’t.”
5. Leah Remini Doesn’t Regret Being A Scientologist
Despite how hard her time with the church was, Leah told 20/20 that she wouldn’t have traded in her experience for anything. If anything, it’s made her appreciate life on the outside that much more.
“I don’t regret what I’ve been through,” she admitted. “I don’t regret spending my life there because it did really teach me a lot. And because we’ve all survived it, and we’re living life, it’s like we have a gift of a second chance at life.”
You can get more on Leah’s experience in the church when her memoir, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology hits retailers on November 3.