Leah Remini was raised in the Church of Scientology and remained a member until 2013. Although the actress says many factors played into her decision to leave the church, the final straw came when she realized it was negatively impacting her young daughter.
Although Remini lost friends due to her departure, she emerged stronger than ever and chose to use her experience to help and educate others. The docuseries Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, which premiered on A&E in November 2016, focuses on former scientologists and their experiences before and after leaving the church.
Scientology and the Aftermath received an Emmy nomination in the Informational Series category last week and, as the show's executive producer, it marked Remini's first Emmy nomination. But rather than giving a traditional statement thanking the TV Academy, an emotional Remini dedicated her nomination to the Scientology subjects who participated in Aftermath.
“I don’t look at this as something I should acknowledge myself for. My subjects deserve it. They were brave enough to come on Aftermath knowing there were repercussions for their actions," Remini told Entertainment Weekly. "This is why I created the show. The reason people come on our series is for no other reason but to tell their stories of how destructive cults like Scientology are.”
Aftermath featured heartbreaking stories, including ex-Scientologist Amy Scobee's account of being temporarily estranged from her mother due to a church policy called “disconnection,” which requires members to shun Scientology critics. (The church has denied that the disconnection policy exists.)
“I was thinking of the first story we told on the show, and how Amy Scobee and her mother, Bonny, told it to me while Bonny was in hospice dying of cancer, and how important it was for her to tell her story and to send the message to whoever would listen, to not let Scientology destroy families,” Remini explained during her interview with Entertainment Weekly. “I’m going to get on the phone now with Amy and Aaron-Smith Levin and everyone else who contributed to our first season and congratulate them because this is for them.”
She also praised the courage of other subjects, including former high-ranking officials of the church including Mike Rinder, Marc Headley, and Ron Miscavige (the father of Scientology head David Miscavige) who are now vocal critics of the church.
"I’m honored that I’m able to be a conduit for these brave people and to tell their stories," Remini continued. "Hollywood has embraced the contributors and the content of the show for what it is. [People] are not falling for what Scientology is selling anymore.”
She also thanked the TV Academy for giving her a platform to spotlight the church's actions.
When asked to provide a comment, a representative for the church asked Entertainment Weekly to link to the website leahreminiaftermath.com, which Scientology officials allege “exposes the fraud behind Leah Remini’s bigoted, hate-filled program.”
Season 2 of Scientology and the Aftermath premieres later this summer. Check out the trailer below.