Skip to main content /CAREER /CAREER

Not afraid to speak her mind

Leah Remini:
Working hard as a queen among kings

Leah Remini
iconLeah Remini has the looks of a star and the mind of a businesswoman -- one with a wry sense of humor about herself. Click here for a gallery of images.  

In this story:

'People don't understand'

'As a daughter and as a person'

RELATED STORIES, SITES Downward pointing arrow

(CNN) -- Leah Remini is unapologetic about her brazen attitude toward life and her acting career.

graphic Do you ever consider your parents' feelings in your career, as Leah Remini says she does?

Yes, frequently.
Never thought about it.
Nope. I do as I want.
View Results


A caustic wit pervades nearly everything she says; expletives pepper her sentences, reinforcing the stereotype of a tough-talking New Yorker. But asked if she'd consider toning down her Brooklynese, Remini pounces.

"No. Are you trying to give me a hint that I should drop it? I can lose the accent; I just have to really focus on what I'm saying. And I have to talk slowly."

That distinctive New York sound helped land her first acting job in an episode of "Head of the Class."

And Remini has since become a recognizable TV actor, costarring in the CBS Monday night sitcom "The King of Queens."

Leah and Jackie
With friend, actress and business partner Jackie Guerra  

The show has wrapped for the season, and Remini has been contemplating her next career move.

For now -- and despite calling herself "technically impaired" -- Remini keeps herself busy with two Web sites: a fan site she periodically helps update, and a joint business venture with her friend and fellow actor, Jackie Guerra. is a retail site for jewelry and accessories.

But Remini says she wasn't fully aware of how demanding that commercial site would be.

"You learn as you go. You think it's so easy to just throw up a Web site, but it's really not, because style, especially fashion, is changing every couple of months."


'People don't understand'

Even her work on the sitcom can be draining, says Remini. She says she feels many people don't understand the daily grind of doing a weekly TV program.

"I've always had a show that went seven episodes or 13 episodes or whatever. And I've never had a show (before 'The King of Queens') that's gone past a first season. It really is a lot of work. It's getting up every morning and going to work. It's not, 'Look at me, I have a little sitcom.' People don't understand the life that we (actors) live."

On how she deals with the social order of Hollywood: "It's hard to find people who are very real and people who care. You find those few friends in this business that you can really trust."

Remini says she finds solace in her steadfast practice of Scientology. She says it often has provided guidance during troubled times in her life and has helped her to be more "normal."

Although Remini is aware of the controversy that sometimes surrounds Scientology, she says she's unfazed by it.

On criticism of Scientology: "If somebody is going to get turned off about something because of what they read or heard, then that person's not smart enough to even enter a church. If you're really against something, then know what you're against."

"I can see how people might trip out about it. But I've been doing it for so long."


'As a daughter and as a person'

Remini dropped out of school at 14, with a caveat from her mother that it was OK to dodge academia only if she was going to achieve some form of greatness in life. Her mother's words have continued to ring in her ears.

At the beginning of her working life, Remini had a variety of jobs, including being a waitress, selling car insurance and working as a telemarketer for a solar heating company.

On her relationship with her mother: "Being very close to her, I don't want to do anything to disappoint her as her daughter and as a person."

But Remini persevered and says she has learned to highlight her strengths.

Leah Remini

Selected work

Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
Age: 30
"Follow Your Heart": Film, 1998
"The King of Queens": Series, CBS, began 1998
"Fired Up": Series, 1997
"Saved by the Bell": Series, 1989
Guest appearances: "NYPD Blue," "Friends," "Cheers"

She also says her Jewish mother and Sicilian father instilled a sense of strong family values in her -- along with a droll outlook on life.

A recent photo shoot perhaps best sums up Remini's strong sense of humor, self deprecating all the way. She agreed to pose -- rather scantily clad -- for a recent insert in the men's magazine FHM: Girls of TV.

But Remini says the experience wasn't completely glamorous.

"I was freezing my a-- off with that little rock thing they had me on. ... I was slipping off of it ... it was freezing. I also had the same look on my face in every picture. 'Oh, look at me, I'm a tigress. This is my sexy look 2-14.'"

Remini's boyfriend later chided her about the shoot, asking when she was going to pose for Playboy.

On seeing herself in the FHM spread: "My mother said, 'Why do you do this s---?' And she asks me why I have to curse so much."

Far from thinking of herself as a sexual icon or model, Remini says she's a cluster of neuroses on the inside and an impenetrable wall on the outside.



"I don't know if it's the way I come off ... like, 'Don't even think about coming near me.' My look is hard, I guess. But inside, I'm going, 'Oh my God, is my zipper up? Do I have a booger in my nose?' That's my inner monologue."

Laughing at life and herself, Remini says she remains grounded through her family, some members of which operate a restaurant near Los Angeles. Not blinded by Hollywood lights, Remini's relatives tolerate no snobbery from her.

"Everybody is kind of normal in my family. Nobody really gives a s--- what I do. Like, 'We have to exclude Leah from the festivities because she's a big sitcom person.' No."

Although no descendant of royalty, this "King of Queens" star says she'll continue to strive for a noble existence.

"I try to be a good person. I know what my downfalls are, so that's a good thing."



Eric Dane: Acting for real
April 9, 2001
Susan Egan: 'A great time being a bad girl'
April 5, 2001
Pianist on a break: Just call him Barto
April 4, 2001
Bill Maher: Proud to be 'Politically Incorrect'
March 12, 2001
Bonnie Hammer: She is Sci Fi
February 5, 2001
Roger Corman: Attack of the independent filmmaker
January 4, 2001
Careers in collaboration: 'Dune' rising
November 30, 2000
Casper Van Dien: Cast in conflict
November 24, 2000

CBS' "The King of Queens"
Leah Remini

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.


Back to the top