Cathy Gibson, PacificCoastNews.com
Leah Remini has been very open about leaving the Church of Scientology and making sure her side of the story is out there, and during an extensive interview with BuzzFeed, the former King of Queens star gave fans an idea of what it was like to grow up a Scientologist.
"We went from a middle-class lifestyle [in Brooklyn, N.Y.] to living in a roach-infested motel with six other girls off a freeway in Clearwater," Remini recalled of her family's transition to the church's compound in Clearwater, Fla., in 1983, just before her 10th birthday.
"We were separated from our mother. We had to sign billion-year contracts we didn't understand. And we kept saying, 'Why are you doing this to us? Why are we here?'"
Larry Busacca/Getty Images for EJAF
So why make the move in the first place? Remini explains that her stepfather had convinced her mother, Vicki, to make the trek, however he never ended up joining them, and there was no time to mourn the loss of her only father figure.
"We were working from morning until night with barely any schooling," Remini said of her early days at the church. "There was no saying no. There was no being tired. There was no, ‘I'm a little girl who just lost her father and everything I've ever known.' There was only, 'Get it done.'"
"If the church needed a ballroom wall knocked down, you made it happen because there were heavy repercussions if you didn't," Remini continued. "And although that was horrendous for a child to deal with, at the same time, it gave me my work ethic."
Life in Florida proved to be too rough for the single mother of four with another daughter on the way. So, the family packed up once again and this time head to Los Angeles.
"Oddly, moving to L.A. had nothing to do with me wanting to be an actress," Remini said. "My mother had a friend who was willing to take us in for a month until we could get on our feet. So we lived on her floor. It was pretty traumatic, but I found my strength through my mother in that time because she never once made us feel like we wouldn't be OK."
Once Remini became a mother herself, things changed, and the brunette beauty says the main reason she left Scientology was for her 9-year-old daughter, Sofia.
"In my house, it's family first—but I was spending most of my time at the church," Remini recalls. "So, I was saying 'family first,' but I wasn't showing that. I didn't like the message that sent my daughter."