On July 10, 2014, TLC premiered its new reality series Leah Remini: It’s All Relative and it quickly became a hit for the network. The series follows Remini’s day-to-day life as she takes on the roles of mother, wife, and friend. Now, the series is back for its second season of fun and hijinks and will premiere on Wednesday, July 15 at 9/8c.
If starring in a reality series and being the executive producer wasn’t enough, the talented actress is also starring in the TV Land series The Exes which is currently airing its fourth season.
Leah has also appeared in series such as Living Dolls, Saved by the Bell, First Time Out and Fired Up. She may be best known for her nine seasons on the hit CBS series The King of Queens.
Today, Leah sits down with the Pop Culture Principle to talk about the new season of Leah Remini: It’s All Relative, what it’s like working with her family on a hit reality series and she reminisces about being a part of The King of Queens.
Pop Culture Principle – Looking back on the first season of the series, how was your overall experience on the show?
Leah Remini – Well, it’s a lot more work that I had expected working with my family. It’s been quite rewarding because I’ve always wanted to produce and was handed this opportunity. The editing process is a lot more work than I had expected and, because it’s your family, you want the best moments for the show.
We are not a docu-drama but a comedy, and we have kind of broken the mold in that way. We aren’t trying to do dramatic shows other than things that do happen for real that are traumatic to us. So we deal with them in an authentic way, which is authentic to who we are. When bad things happen to us, there is a mixture of comedy mixed in with the real deal. So that is what we try to portray, and what you see is exactly who we are.
Pop Culture Principle – How hard was it for you to convince the family to be part of a reality series?
Leah Remini – Not really hard at all. There was a concern that sometimes people are funny that you meet every day but, when you put a camera on them, they shut down. So, with my family, I wasn’t sure how they would actually be on camera. I have read my audition scenes with my mom before and she was a horrible reader and I thought she might not be funny, but she has become the breakout star of the entire show.
What has been most rewarding is that, even though I may have had reservations about stepping into the reality world, we have had so many people come up to us and let us know that we aren’t the only ones that go through the day-to-day stuff. You love to hear those things from people where they feel you are relatable to them. Just because I am an actress doesn’t mean that I don’t go through the same family issues. So that has been really quite rewarding.
Pop Culture Principle – Watching It’s All Relative, the series seems very organic. Would you agree?
Leah Remini – I am proud of the show, because it’s not like we are recreating moments or acting, because they can’t act; they aren’t actors. My assistant, my husband, and my little sister are actors, but my mom and George are not actors. So they couldn’t fake it, and you look at that and can tell that they are being their organic, normal selves.
Pop Culture Principle – What, if anything, surprised you the most about the first season of the series?
Leah Remini – I think the reaction to the series has surprised me. People have welcomed this into their worlds and, because we sort of broke the mold with a hybrid of a sitcom/reality show, I love that people embrace that. Also, people coming up to me in the street now used to be just about The King of Queens; now people are coming up to me telling me how much they love this show, and I’m not used to that.
Pop Culture Principle – One of the most interesting relationships on the show is the one with your mother. Has being on the series strengthened the relationship between both of you?
Leah Remini – Well, we’ve always had a strong relationship, but I think what’s been great about it for my family is that it’s has given them new life. They really love to work and they really love the business that I am in. We filmed 207 episodes of The King of Queens, and my mom was at 206 of them. So now it’s great to be able to share this thing with my mom. My mom is now learning what it means to entertain people, and that is why you do what you do because you move people in a certain way.
Pop Culture Principle – You could easily have some of your celebrity friends on your series. Is that a conscious decision not to over-expose those relationships?
Leah Remini – You know, it’s funny that you brought that up. I would always want to include my authentic life and not exclude people just because you are who you are. For instance, I wanted to get J. Lo on the show before she left for New York to shoot her new series. She gave me a bunch of times that she was available, but we were already filming specific things to our lives and couldn’t just put them off. So if it happens it happens and, if it’s authentic, we’ll show up with cameras. We just don’t want to put people in the show just to be in it.
There was a time when Chelsea Handler came over with lunch because she was in the neighborhood and we put her on the show because she was here. So, if it happens authentically we want to try and catch it as best we can.
Pop Culture Principle – Have you started to film the second season of It’s All Relative, and what can fans look forward to in Season Two?
Leah Remini – Yes, we’ve been filming and we have another two weeks of filming left. Fans can expect more of everybody in the new season. The nanny finds out that she has breast cancer, so we cover that and just what’s going on in everybody’s lives. We also cover me working, because people don’t get to see me working but it’s such a big part of my life.
We deal with… I don’t want to say the aftermath of leaving the church, but certainly it’s a long process. I don’t think people understand that, when you’ve been in something since you were a child, it takes time. There have been a few people asking why I just don’t get over it, but it’s a domino effect and it’s something that comes off in layers.
What we realized is that we are a very vocal and emotional family, but we don’t deal with emotion about loss too well because we start to cry immediately, so we just sort of push it away. So you see, just as a family, how we have grown from it. I think it’s more of a positive thing than a negative thing.
Pop Culture Principle – The Exes returns to TV Land on July 15th. You will be reprising your role as Nicki. What has your experience been like working on that series?
Leah Remini – I can’t say enough about these people. It’s not easy going on a show that has been on the air for four seasons, so they are very familiar with each other. When I came in they didn’t know what was wrong with Kristen, so they asked me to come in just to fill in. I got emails and texts from her saying I could use her dressing room or anything of hers that I wanted to use. She thanked me for coming on to the show and she was so gracious as the lead actress on the show.
Everyone in the cast and crew was so welcoming, so complementary, it was such a great experience for me and I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. It has been such an amazing experience and I can’t say enough about the show, the writers, just everybody.
Pop Culture Principle – As an actor, what does it feel like being part of show like The King of Queens that not only lasted for so long but also put its stamp on network television?
Leah Remini – I am still not recovered from it, and I still can’t watch it because it makes me cry. So many firsts happened on that show. I bought my first house, Kevin bought his first house. It was the first hit for both of us as actors. So many of us had our first kids while we were on the show. It’s not every day you find a cast that just has chemistry, and that’s what I think people loved about the show.
We would like to thank Leah for taking time from her schedule to talk with us. Don’t forget, the Season 2 premiere of Leah Remini: It’s All Relative is Wednesday, July 15 at 9/8c on TLC. You can also check out the official Leah Remini: It’s All Relative show page over at TLC here.
For all of Leah’s latest news, projects and updates, you can visit her official website here.
**Leah Remini: It’s All Relative Photos Courtesy of Brian Bowen/TLC**