Born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 15, 1970, Leah Remini dropped out of school to pursue her acting dream. A few short years later, in 1986, she made her television debut. Working continually for years on a variety of shows, Remini flirted several times with larger success before landing the role that would change her life in 1998: playing Carrie Heffernan on the sitcom The King of Queens. The show was a huge hit, propelling the actress to stardom. Despite her success, Remini was often a media target for her defense of Scientology. She parted ways with the group in July 2013. Soon after, she announced plans to pen a tell-all about Scientology, vowing to leave no secret untold.
Leah Marie Remini moved with her mother to Los Angeles, California, when she was 13 years old, and dropped out of school at an early age to pursue a career in show business. After a few years, Remini made her television debut on Head of the Class (1988). She quickly followed that gig with two episodes of Who's the Boss? in 1989.
That same year, Remini caught a big break when she landed her own show, ABC's Living Dolls, a Who's the Boss spin-off that also featured a young Halle Berry. The show didn't catch on, though, and Remini continued popping up on the small screen afterward, with small parts on such shows as Normal Life, Valerie and Guns of Paradise, before landing two recurring roles in 1991: on Man in the Family and Saved by the Bell.
Remini tried out for the role of Monica on the NBC show Friends (1994-2004), but the part went to Courteney Cox (though Remini did have a guest role on the hot series a year later). Never one to be without acting work for long, Remini joined the cast of Phantom 2040 in 1995, lending her voice to an animated character. That same year, she landed her own show yet again, First Time Out, but it met with a fate similar to that of Living Dolls and was canceled after 12 episodes.
The Household Name
In 1997, a lead role came along again for Leah Remini, this time in the form of the new sitcom Fired Up, pn which she co-starred with NYPD Blue's Sharon Lawrence. The show wasn't a smash hit, but it did last 28 episodes and lead Remini to her biggest and most successful acting job yet: starring opposite Kevin James on the hugely popular show The King of Queens, which ran for nine years (208 episodes), from 1998 to 2007. The series, on which Remini played Carrie Heffernan and James played her on-screen husband, Doug Heffernan, was a career-maker for the actress.
Remini became a household name as she rode the high tide of the show, and she appeared in her first big film role, opposite Vince Vaughn in the comedy smash Old School, in 2003. After The King of Queens came to an end in 2007, Remini parleyed her fame into a spot on Sara Gilbert's talk show, The Talk, and later the lead role on another, ABC's Family Tools, an adaptation of the BBC series White Man Van.
In 2013, Remini took on a different type of television project. She signed on to be a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. Fans will get to see another side to Remini as she competes against such celebrities as actress Valerie Harper and reality TV personality Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi.
When not on TV, Remini has come under fire over the course of her career for her devotion to Scientology. Alongside the likes of Tom Cruise, Remini was one of Scientology's most public defenders—that is, until she broke with the organization in July 2013. The break inspired Remini to write a tell-all book about the Church of Scientology and her experiences with it; she announced plans to write the book shortly after parting ways with the group, vowing to leave no secret untold.
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