Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood And Scientology – Leah Remini
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.
Review: Celebrity memoirs aren’t really my thing. The ones I’ve encountered have all been poorly written. I’ve also never been the type of person who paid much attention to celebrities. (Other than laughing at tabloids in the grocery store checkout.)
However, when I found out that Leah Remini had written a memoir about Scientology, I knew that I needed it in my life. I grew up watching King of Queens, and I’ve had a strange fascination with Scientology that goes back longer than I can remember. Me and this book were made for each other.
In Troublemaker, Leah Remini writes about growing up in poverty in New York. Her parents got involved in Scientology when she was young, so Leah and her siblings grew up in the church. (Literally grew up in the church. Their family lived in buildings owned by the Church of Scientology.) Scientology consumed Leah’s life. She dropped out of school in 8th grade because her religious education was more important. Her family had always struggled financially, but they had to live in some really nasty places because Scientology classes were so expensive. One of the reasons that Leah got into acting was to help her family. This memoir provides an honest look at Hollywood and at Leah’s life. Her acting career and her relationships weren’t always easy.
“Angelo and I had the nastiest “deaf fights” where instead of speaking, we mouthed the words—“Fuck you” or “I want a divorce”—because we didn’t want the baby to be any more upset than she already was.” – Troublemaker
For me, the most interesting part of the book is Tom Cruise’s wedding. Other than his involvement in Scientology, I didn’t know much about Tom Cruise. From Leah’s descriptions of him, he doesn’t sound like someone I’d ever want to meet. He seems very intense and very spoiled. He’s the most well-known ambassador for Scientology, and the high-ranking members of the church will do whatever it takes to keep him happy. They’ll even go against Scientology’s beliefs and rules. The hypocrisy of the religious leaders helped Leah see that Scientology isn’t as great as she once thought.
“I was once a big fan of Tom’s—before I got to know him. I’m sure many people could say the same thing about me or any other celebrity. But this is different; most actors are not in charge of your faith. I don’t doubt that Tom is in Scientology because he believes in it, but to me he has simply been given too much power by his church.” - Troublemaker
“That sums up my problem with Scientology—despite its claims to the contrary, the practice doesn’t help you better the world or even yourself; it only helps you be a better Scientologist.” - Troublemaker
“You were either all in or all out. It is an extremist religion. There is no middle ground. And there within its structure lies the danger.” - Troublemaker
I remember hearing the news that Leah Remini had left Scientology. I was happy for her because the religion is a scam, but I didn’t realize how difficult it was for her to leave. She’d dedicated 30+ years of her life to Scientology. When she left, she had to rethink everything she’d been taught to believe. Some of her family members abandoned her when she criticized the church. Leah is a brave woman. By the end of the book, I was cheering for her.
Like other celebrity memoirs, the writing in this one isn’t great. I didn’t really care, though. Leah is honest and funny. The book is a quick read. I finished most of it in one night.
If you’re interested in Hollywood or Scientology, then this book is worth reading. You get to learn all sorts of fascinating behind-the-scenes stuff about both of them.