Ex-Scientologists speak out in Leah Remini’s series.
With her A&E docu-series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, the actress-producer has made it her mission to tell the stories of former Scientologists like herself: what they endured while active in the controversial church as well as what befell them after leaving.
“The show was inspired by watching people getting attacked for telling their stories,” says Remini, who realized she could give them a forum. As host and executive producer of the series, which returns for season two this summer, Remini knew she could face backlash from the famously litigious church.
“[But] I knew I was telling the truth,” she says, “so I had no fear. We just stepped aside and allowed people to tell their stories. They know there are repercussions to speaking to us. Within hours, there were hate sites about every single person who spoke to us.”
Remini is grateful to A&E for supporting her project, and she’s been buoyed by the expressions of love that began pouring in when the series debuted last November. Of the former Scientologists who have shared personal and painful stories, she says: “That they’re receiving the love they deserve from people they don’t know is very heartwarming.”
Juggling acting gigs in film and television with Scientology keeps her busy, but she loves it.
“I found my voice in social activism,” says the native New Yorker, whose many TV credits include Saved by the Bell, The King of Queens, and The Talk. “There are other issues I would love to cover. I hope to inspire people to take action with whatever they’re passionate about.”
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 4, 2017