In Leah Remini’s autobiography Trouble Maker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, her friend, Stacy, asks how she received such a nice house and pool, and Remini replies with hard work. Her friend’s response is, “‘No, come on. It’s gotta be that Scientology stuff you’re involved in. It must have given you a leg up in the business.” She also states, ““I want that Tom Cruise shit.’” Remini explains, not to her friend, that this is a myth about Scientology:
The real truth is that while the church would like you to believe it wields a tremendous amount of influence in Hollywood, that is simply not the case. Throughout my career I know of one minor casting director who was a Scientologist, but other than that, no real movers and shakers. As a matter of fact, I think identifying myself publicly as a Scientologist probably hurt my career more than it helped as far as perception was concerned. And while some of the courses the church offered provided me with better communication skills to help land roles, the time, money, and effort I invested certainly didn’t outweigh the benefit for me (115).
The reason why I decided to start my review of Remini’s book with this quote is because this is the section of the book that stayed with me the most. I know this is strange because Remini reveals many horrible things about her former religion, but the idea that Scientology is persuading to young hopeful actors that the church will forward their careers, yet then proceeds to bankrupt them really annoys me. These are signs of a cult and a scam.
This is what happened to youtuber Steven Mango www.youtube.com/channel/UCE5IHywtKYHcTGfr0AUB1Mw. (He is not mentioned in Remini’s book) He explains through multiple videos in his Mangotology series that he joined the church because of their acting classes, which turned out to only be propaganda for the church. Instead of propelling his career forward, he put his money and time into the classes the church offered and was forced to hide his sexuality. Scientology only held back his acting career. If there is one thing I want young people to take away from Remini’s book, it is this.
Going back to Leah Remini’s autobiography Trouble Maker, this was the first non-fiction book I have read. There are two main reasons why I chose to read this book. First, I have already watched the documentary Going Clear and Remini’s documentary show Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath (an Emmy-Award winning show), so I thought this was the natural next step even though the book was written before the show. Second, as someone who has a degree in rhetoric, I am interested in the persuasion that cults employ to prevent their followers from leaving. Basically, Scientology threatens followers with disconnection, blackmails them with what they said during private auditing sessions, or they will persuade that they are saving the planet and any indiscretion they make is preventing this from happening. They tell followers that anything bad that happens to them is their own fault because they did something horrible in a past life. This makes people feel like they deserve the mistreatment from their church. Followers are persuaded that it is their fault alone that the world is not saved.
Remini herself writes of all the hardship Scientology had put her through during her time at the church, such as: making her family move to Florida and live separately from her mother in rat and cockroach infested dorms in a hotel, cleaning the hotel and being feed scraps while in the Sea Org, being thrown off a boat for not calling a higher up sir: “he picked me up and before I even realized what was happening, he threw me overboard” (27) (this is L. Ron Hubbard’s overboarding policy when someone is not being compliant), spending a fortune on the church, and being emotionally abused by the church after she supposedly ruined Tom Cruise’s wedding.
Speaking of Tom Cruise, this book confirmed my suspicions concerning how he is treated by the leaders of Scientology. Remini states, “I don’t doubt that Tom is in Scientology because he believes in it, but to me he has simply been given too much power by his church” (204). I have always perceived that if the late LRH is God, and Dave Miscavige is the pope of Scientology then Cruise is Jesus. To me, Remini confirmed this: “Dave told him that if he could, he would make Tom Cruise the number two in Scientology. He said that Tom Cruise was a more dedicated Scientologist than anyone else he knew” (205).
This book covers the start of Remini’s life and spans to her reality tv show Leah Remini: It’s All Relative in 2014. Though she discusses hardships in her life, she does it as her sassy, funny, Italian female self. I believe all Remini’s statements. She calls out a lot of B.S even her own when she was in the church.
I should state that the church of Scientology has denied every statement that Remini has made.
Overall, I would give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars. This is because while Remini’s story is moving, there are many grammar issues. This is not her fault, but it is her editors. Do not get me wrong. I have dyslexia, and you will probably find grammar issues throughout my blog, but the job of editors is to catch these mistakes.
You should definitely read Remini’s autobiography and watch Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.
I do believe in freedom of religion; however, I do not believe in cults mistreating and isolating their members.
Remini, Leah. Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology. Ballantine Books, 2015.