Leah Remini will not be silenced.
After her headline-making split from Scientology earlier this month, the 43-year-old actress is speaking out about it for the first time ― and says she won't stop talking.
"I believe that people should be able to question things," the former "King of Queens" star told People magazine at Saturday's 15th Annual DesignCare benefit in Malibu, though without uttering the word "Scientology" a single time. "I believe that people should value family, and value friendships, and hold those things sacrosanct. That for me, that's what I'm about. It wouldn't matter what it was, simply because no one is going to tell me how I need to think, no one is going to tell me who I can, and cannot, talk to."
Remini, who was one of the best-known members of the controversial church, reportedly questioned leader David Miscavige about the whereabouts of his wife, Shelly, who hasn't been seen in public since 2007. (The incident took place at Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes's Italian wedding in 2006.) It led to her having to go through extensive "security checks," a practice of intensive personal questioning, and other members were told to "disconnect" from her. Eventually, it drove her to leave the church altogether. (The church doesn't comment on individual members.)
"It doesn't matter, it could be anything," she said, referring to not being silenced. "I'm not about to shut up."
Remini's family has been deeply entrenched in the church for most of her life. Although she was baptized Catholic, she became a Scientologist at the age of 9, along with her mother, Vicki Marshall, who became a high-ranked member. Her husband, Angelo Pagan, has also taken courses. Her sister, Nicole Remini-Wiskow, left in 2005.
"We stand united, my family and I, and I think that says a lot about who we are, and what we're about," Remini said.
As for whether she's happy now after her decision, "Happy is a relative word," she told Us Weekly at the same event. "It's a time of change."
News first broke on July 11 that Remini had left Scientology. A day later she issued a carefully-worded statement, expressing her "sincere and heartfelt appreciation for the overwhelming positive response I have received from the media, my colleagues, and from fans around the world. I am truly grateful and thankful for all your support."
Soon after, her sister spoke out in support of her, telling People that the church tried to alienate Remini from her family, which was the last straw.
"If they call my mother and say, 'You have to choose between Leah and the church,' how is that a church?" asked Remini-Wiskow. "None of her Scientology friends are sticking by her side. I guess you really learn who your friends are. [But] my mom, my stepdad ... everybody is supporting her and backing her. This isn't going to break her ― or us."
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