Leah Remini Talks Judging ‘Dancing With the Stars’ & If She’d Return

ABC/Eric McCandless

Earlier this week, Leah Remini (King of Queens; Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath) found there’s something more difficult in life than competing on Dancing With the Stars – judging it!

As part of ABC’s “Cast From The Past” theme, in which familiar faces are popping up on current programming, Remini was invited to sit alongside DWTS judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, and Bruno Tonioli.

The choice was logical as Remini competed on the reality dance series in Season 17. She and pro partner Tony Dovolani finished a respectable 5th place. In Seasons 19 and 21, she returned to the show as a guest co-host.

On Monday’s episode, Remini sparred with the judges, chastising them for remarks they made against this season’s celebrities when she felt they were being too tough on them. The comic actress spoke with reporters after the show to talk about her experience, whether or not basketball star Lamar Odom should have been ejected, and whether or not she’d return to the series as a co-host. Read on to get the scoop!

(ABC/Eric McCandless)

On being invited back to the show as a guest judge

“I thought it was a great choice because I’m a fan of the show and I’ve done the show. I co-hosted it once and I think it’s only natural that I try my hand at judging. [Joking] Next, I’m going to do craft service.”

On being qualified to judge the show having competed on it

“I have compassion for what it takes to do the show. I’d never danced in my life. I learned the Cha Cha one week, the Jive the next, on top of the other things [I was] doing. You’re doing wardrobe fittings, doing interviews…it’s not an easy show to do and I thought that I could give that perspective.”

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On being upset that Lamar Odom got such low scores

“I don’t think that people really understood how hard it is for Lamar. He’s not a dancer. He’s a man in sports, used to putting on a ‘game face.’ I don’t know if everyone at home could see through that but what I saw was a kind man who is struggling and coming out and doing his best…I know how hard the pros work for us and it’s not an easy show to do for someone who is not used to performing.”

On Lamar being voted off

“I think it sucks. I think he should have stayed.”

(ABC/Eric McCandless)

On Carrie Ann Inaba telling Hannah Brown (The Bachelorette) her comments are meant to be constructive, not hurtful

“When I got out there and did a dance that I’d never done in my life before I wanted points for doing that…[the comments] are never meant to hurt, I just don’t think [the judges] understand how deflating and demoralizing it is when [you] get out there [and try].”

On if she remembers the judges ever giving her positive comments

“Well, you only remember the bad because when they gave me a compliment it meant everything to me.”

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On not participating in the final vote saving Karamo (Queer Eye) and sending Odom home

“I understand that people have to go home, but it’s hard to judge that because you don’t want anyone to go home because you know how hard they worked.”

On how the winner is often the most-improved celebrity with the best journey

“Who [has] the best journey? Some people think it’s this one. I think they should change it so that [all the stars] have no dance experience. Zero dance experience. Zero, zero, zero. Because if you’re used to performing in any capacity, you already have a leg up on those who don’t.”

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On if she’d co-host the show again

“To take away somebody’s job? I like being added to things. I don’t like taking away people’s jobs. Any time [host] Erin [Andrews] wants me to help out and she needs to do her thing, I’d be happy to fill in for her. Again, it’s not an easy thing to do for anybody – being on a live television show, to think of questions as [things] are happening. It’s not easy.”

On how competing on the show made her stronger

“Everything we’ve been through leads us to who we are now. [We can] look at everything as experiences as opposed to things we wish hadn’t happened…I appreciate what I’ve been through so that I [can] be a better leader and a better mother, a better example for those who look up to me.”

Dancing With the Stars, Mondays, 8/7c, ABC