The outspoken actress, talk show host, and reality television star offers up a no-holds-barred memoir, including an eye-opening insider account of her tumultuous and heart-wrenching thirty-year-plus association with the Church of Scientology.
Leah Remini has never been the type to hold her tongue. That willingness to speak her mind, stand her ground, and rattle the occasional cage has enabled this tough-talking girl from Brooklyn to forge an enduring and successful career in Hollywood. But being a troublemaker has come at a cost.
That was never more evident than in 2013, when Remini loudly and publicly broke with the Church of Scientology. Now, in this frank, funny, poignant memoir, the former King of Queens star opens up about that experience for the first time, revealing the in-depth details of her painful split with the church and its controversial practices.
Indoctrinated into the church as a child while living with her mother and sister in New York, Remini eventually moved to Los Angeles, where her dreams of becoming an actress and advancing Scientology’s causes grew increasingly intertwined. As an adult, she found the success she’d worked so hard for, and with it a prominent place in the hierarchy of celebrity Scientologists alongside people such as Tom Cruise, Scientology’s most high-profile adherent. Remini spent time directly with Cruise and was included among the guests at his 2006 wedding to Katie Holmes.
But when she began to raise questions about some of the church’s actions, she found herself a target. In the end, she was declared by the church to be a threat to their organization and therefore a “Suppressive Person,” and as a result, all of her fellow parishioners—including members of her own family—were told to disconnect from her. Forever.
Bold, brash, and bravely confessional, Troublemaker chronicles Leah Remini’s remarkable journey toward emotional and spiritual freedom, both for herself and for her family. This is a memoir designed to reveal the hard-won truths of a life lived honestly—from an author unafraid of the consequences.
I've watched the documentary on HBO Going Clear based on the book by Lawrence Wright. So I was excited to learn about Leah Remini and her break with Scientology.
Her books main theme is Scientology and how it shaped her youth and early adulthood. She combines this with her desire to be famous and act. She writes about surviving both. Her personality has been to never back down and to stand up for herself and those she cares about. That got her into trouble in both places.
Remini opens herself up. We see she isn't perfect. She's brash and hot-headed but she's humble and loyal and fierce. Even when she was fully indoctrinated into Scientology she still watched out for abuse. She helped out the smaller kids in the Sea Org. She studied and cared about her religion and when the practice from higher ups was not aligning with her beliefs she called them out.
I identify so much in small ways with Remini's journey out of her church. I made a similar journey out of mine nine years ago and the thoughts of guilt and doubt and depression and loss of eternal glory were the same ones I felt as I left. While the church I left wasn't nearly as horrific as hers, the same types of manipulations and abuses were present.
I laughed with Remini and I cried with her through her journey. She's a class act and I wish her the best in her future endeavors. I'm grateful she's brave enough to share her journey with the world and help those who still need it.
She had a story about being a mother that really resonated with me. She said she really admired the parents who actually ran around and played with their children. "But they also left me racked with guilt--until one mother, out of dozens told me I shouldn't feel bad. 'You're not your daughter's playmate,' she said, and I nearly burst out into tears, because I needed to hear that so badly." She says she wasn't a "player," she loved spending time with her, protecting her and setting up her future. Yes, to this. My DH is the player and goofer.
My son did an art project for Thanksgiving where he put thankful feathers around a turkey. One was 'I'm thankful for my mom because she takes care of me.' Another one said 'I'm grateful for my dad because he plays tickle time with me.' Yup, that's OK. It made me feel weird for a bit because I want to be the player but then I remember I'm not and that's OK. I provide other ways to interact and love my son. Thanks, Ms. Remini, for letting me know I'm not alone in that sentiment!
"As long as I was a Scientologist, the church told me what to do and what not to do in almost every aspect of my life. If I had any doubts about leaving my faith, they vanished when I thought of Sofia growing up with that same kind of dependency. I didn't want her to group thinking her connection to the church was the measure of her success in life. I wanted her to be an individual. Belief and faith are great, but very few people have been led astray by thinking for themselves."
*Part of my 2018 non-fiction reading challenge.