Leah Remini is finally breaking her silence about her split from the Church of Scientology.
In a lengthy interview with Buzzfeed, Remini recounts her "horrendous" first exposure to the church as a child, when her mother relocated Remini and her sisters to Clearwater, Florida, where they became members. "We went from a middle-class lifestyle [in Brooklyn] to living in a roach-infested motel with six other girls off a freeway in Clearwater," the King of Queens alum says. "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?'"
Photos: Stars who've quit Scientology
After she eventually moved to California, Remini stayed in the church until she very publicly broke away from Scientology last June. Her primary motivation for doing so was her 9-year-old daughter Sofia. "She was getting to the age where the acclimation into the Church would have to start," Remini says. "I started thinking of my own childhood and how I grew up resenting my mother because she was never home. ... In my house, it's family first — but I was spending most of my time at the Church. So, I was saying 'family first,' but I wasn't showing that. I didn't like the message that sent my daughter."
When she decided to leave the church, Remini said she tried turning to friends who were also Scientologists for support, but was met with resistance. Though Remini says her mother has supported her decision, other prominent Scientologists — including Kirstie Alley — have denounced her. "We had a chance to make a change from within, but they didn't want to," she tells Buzzfeed. "They only cared that their lives would be disrupted if they stood with me. They didn't care about doing the right thing. That showed me everything the Church taught me was a lie."
Remini, who appeared on the most recent season of Dancing with the Stars, is currently starring on TV Land's The Exes and plans to write a memoir. "I'm not trying to be controversial. I just want people to know the truth," she says.
What do you think of Remini's comments?