It's no small secret that I'm quietly obsessed with Leah Remini and her new reality show on TLC, Leah Remini: It's All Relative. Not only do I recap the show for our beloved Stir, but I'm an old school Leah fan -- we're talkin' Saved by the Bell days.
That's why I jumped at the chance to ask her a few questions about being a working mom, a comedian, dipping her toes into the reality-pool, and even her decision to speak out about parting ways with the Church of Scientology. Not surprisingly, Leah was charming, funny, and totally candid.
I'm a huge fan of you and the show. I'm not a huge laugh-out-loud-er when it comes to even TV I adore, but you guys get me weekly. How did the show come about? What made you decide to take a dip in the reality pool?
Well, I thank you. That kind of feedback means the most. Viewers have been responding in kind. “I am not a reality show person, but I love this show”; “I’m not a laugh-out loud-er ... but I do with this show”; and that warms my heart. Why I decided to do it? I felt there was something missing in reality TV and that was a show that was actually real.
I also wanted to show this business that a family show is still something people want to see. You don’t have to write a reality show of drama and self-absorbed people to make people interested. There are very few shows I can watch with my daughter, and this is something I feel we might need to get back to in TV. Not that I am not self-absorbed, I mean I am an actress. But I think people need to laugh, I know I do, and we can offer you that at our expense.
Can your mom adopt me? But seriously -- does she get coaching, or is she actually that funny? Did you have to twist her arm to get her involved in the show?
If you would have lox and bagels with her at random times in the day, she would adopt you. She gets no coaching. Yes, she is that nutty. You didn’t say nutty, but I did. My mom always thought she was funnier than me anyway, so, in her mind, this is pretty right.
What's the best thing about getting to work with your family? The worst?
The best is not having to leave to go to work and not feeling the guilt of leaving them all day and night. The worst is they are with me all day and night!
I've had an idea: You don't want to part with Sofia's swing-set, and Trish likes to bling everything: Bling swing set -- yay or nay?
NAY!!!!!! I don’t think Trish's "Bling-Game" is up to par
You've been very open about breaking ties with the Scientology community on the show, which I think really made people root for you and your staunch commitment to your beliefs. What's been the most challenging aspect of parting ways with the community that was so integral to your life?
Being vocal was not an easy decision. I knew once I had said that I left publicly, I would have to be shunned by everyone I had known most of my life. So that was a big one.
Just saying publicly that you left gets you an automatic “Declare” and a "Declare" is basically a stamp of an “Enemy” to the group. What I have spoken about is only two points: Not being allowed to question things and forced disconnection that is enforced on its members when one leaves publicly.
Had I just walked away quietly, this conversation wouldn’t be taking place. So, it wasn’t so much that I left that they had a problem with but rather that I said that I did. So one could ask, "Why do it publicly then?" The answer is because I knew that there were a lot of people who were looking to me to stand for something when it came to this particular policy of Disconnection and not being allowed to question “authority.”
If I didn’t say something, I would not be setting any example for them. I would be quietly saying, “Well, this is okay and I should abide by these rules they have and be silent.”
I was naïve in thinking my friends -- and even the church -- would see my point not agreeing to these methods and maybe be part of a positive change. There are many who are out there who have not spoken about their distancing themselves and I find it cowardly. But there are those who have attacked it to a point where I am offended.
I am not perfect, but when it comes to being your own person who is able to think for themselves, come to their own conclusions without having to be forced to think this and this, allowed to make mistakes, to be vocal about your disagreements and asking questions of something that you dedicated your life to seems to be a basic human right. At least, that is what they teach you in the church.
Can you give us any hints about fun moments to watch out for in the upcoming episodes?
Upcoming episodes, the girls go “camping.” And there are more firsts for all of us. Grandpa attempts to scare the crap out of us ... and fails miserably.
And we can't wait!
Leah Remini: It's All Relative airs tonight at 10 p.m. EST on TLC!
Do you think your family could have their own reality show?
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