Born in Brooklyn, New York, Leah Remini dropped out of school to pursue her acting dream. Working continually for years on a variety of shows, Remini flirted several times with larger success until 1998, when she landed the career-defining role of Carrie Heffernan on the hit sitcom The King of Queens. A member of the Church of Scientology until 2013, Remini later departed from the Church, a chapter of her life which she wrote about in her best-selling memoir and explores in Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, a TV documentary series on A&E.
Leah Marie Remini was born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 15, 1970. After her parents separated, her mother, Vicki, began dating a man who was involved in the Church of Scientology, and Vicki later moved with her two daughters to a Scientology compound in Clearwater, Florida.
At age 13, Remini again was on the move, this time to Los Angeles, California, and she soon dropped out of school to pursue a career in show business. Leaning on her native Brooklyn accent and attitude, she landed an appearance on Head of the Class in 1988, and followed with two episodes of Who’s the Boss? in 1989.
That same year, Remini scored her first starring role with 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 resumed her career with appearances on such shows as Normal Life, The Hogan Family and Guns of Paradise. In 1991, she landed recurring parts on Man in the Family and Saved by the Bell.
In 1994, Remini tried out for the role of Monica on what was to become the massively popular NBC series Friends—a part that went to Courteney Cox, though Remini did make a guest appearance on the show. 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 another prominent role on a series called First Time Out, but it met with a fate similar to that of Living Dolls and was cancelled after 12 episodes.
In 1997, a leading part came along again for Remini, this time in the form of the sitcom Fired Up, which co-starred NYPD Blue’s Sharon Lawrence. The show wasn’t a smash hit, but it did last 28 episodes and provide the actress the exposure to land her biggest acting job to date.