Comic who auditioned to be Cruise’s gf spent a million on CO$, is now broke

Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes
In 2012, Vanity Fair published what was then a scandalous expose on the internal workings of the Scientology cult. The article confirmed the rumors that Tom Cruise auditioned women within Scientology to be his girlfriend. The process was especially hard on a young actress named Nazanin Boniadi, then 24, who was initially selected by Cruise, made to break up with her boyfriend, had to undergo a makeover to please Cruise (including having her incisor teeth filed down) and then punished harshly when she was ultimately rejected by him a few months later. It was a look into the insanity of Scientology, and how they control and manipulate followers. It was also insight into what Katie Holmes must have gone through during the time she first started dating Cruise and throughout her marriage.

Tom Cruise’s 2004 and 2005 girlfriend auditions have since been confirmed by multiple ex Scientologists including Leah Remini, Paul Haggis and participants in the process like a Danish woman named Anette Iren Johansen. (Reportedly Scarlet Johansson, Kate Bosworth and Lindsay Lohan were also auditioned.)

Now a former Scientologist, voiceover actress and comedian named Cathy Schenkelberg is doing a one-woman show about her time in Scientology, which includes a failed screen test to be Cruise’s girlfriend. Schenkelberg told her story to the Daily Mail and what’s striking is how much she lost to the cult:

Schenkelberg, who left the church in 2009, now explains in a Daily Mail Online exclusive interview: ‘I was called into an audition for a video run by Golden Era Productions [Scientology media department].

‘I was on a really high level, I was a successful Scientologist, I was one of America’s top voiceovers. I remember there was a load of us in the lobby of the Celebrity Centre.

‘I didn’t know I was being auditioned [to be Cruise’s girlfriend], so I was being asked on camera: ”Where are you from? What level are you on? Then, “What do you think of Tom Cruise?”

‘I thought I was auditioning for a training course, so when he asked about Tom Cruise, I said: “I can’t stand him, I think he’s a narcissistic baby!” I said, “I’m really bummed about him splitting with Nicole”. I hate the guy, even before I was in Scientology I didn’t like him.

‘I then go on a litany about him and I remember saying at the end: “Do I have a script now? What do I need to do?” And they said: “No, you’re finished.” I was like, “Huh, I thought this was a training video.”

‘When I left the room, there was another actress outside and she asked: “How did you do?” I said: “What do you mean?” She said: “Well, that’s an audition to be Tom Cruise’s girlfriend”, and I said: “I don’t think I got the gig.”‘

Schenkelberg was made to pay for her anti-Cruise comments through hours of intensive auditing, as they would ‘security check’ her to investigate why she had any form of hatred for the Mission Impossible star.
She recalls: ‘I would have to get audited on this, they’d want to know why I didn’t like Tom Cruise. I would get into so much trouble over this.

But after the audition things changed.

‘I’d get invited because of my daughter to say, Nancy Cartwright or Leah Rimini’s party then they’d say: “Sorry, you can’t go because Tom doesn’t know you.” If I was in the party, I’d get uninvited, I was in the B Group.’

She did know Isabella and Connor, and says that rumors they ‘disconnected’ from mother Nicole Kidman after they split up in 2001 were true.

‘I used to see them, as my daughter knew them. They’d bad mouth Nicole, and the Church badmouthed Nicole to the kids. Nicole was suppressive, they couldn’t see their mom. I said it was not OK for that to happen,’ says Schenkelberg…

Schenkelberg did many courses and levels, called Operating Thetan Levels, the highest being Operating Thetan 8 (OT8). But it was also financially draining, the courses were taking all of her money. In 14 years, she spent $938,000…

‘I lost three homes, a pension and medical and dental insurance. I was on food stamps and was kicked out of my rental house as I was in arrears of over $20,000,’ adds Schenkelberg.

Schenkelberg, who lives back in Chicago now, says that the Church even tried to recruit her daughter, then only nine years old, into the ultra-hardcore Sea Org, where members sign billion-year contracts.

[From The Daily Mai]

All she did was say she didn’t like Cruise and she lost “friends” and got shunned. As far as Schenkelberg losing a million and three homes, if that story sounds extreme, it’s not unique. Former Scientologist and actor Jason Beghe told a very similar story back in 2008, when it was still very dangerous to speak out. He had become so sucked up in Scientology that he spent a million dollars on courses and auditing trying to move up the levels. At that time Beghe confirmed the timeline through which Tom Cruise was brought back into Scientology by leader David Miscavige and convinced to dump Nicole Kidman. As we know, Kidman’s children with Cruise were then systematically alienated from her by COS, something that even Schenkelberg was aware of.

So here’s another person who’s lucky to be out of Scientology with their sanity and humor, if not their money. Schenkelberg’s big mouth probably saved her from losing even more to the cult. This makes me wonder – why doesn’t Cruise have another wide-eyed girlfriend at this point? Are even Scientologist women wise enough to stay far away?

You can learn more about Schenkelberg’s show at


Tom Cruise and his new fiance Katie Holmes in Rome

photos credit: Facebook and FameFlynet

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77 Responses to “Comic who auditioned to be Cruise’s gf spent a million on CO$, is now broke”

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  1. Nev says:

    Beyond. Scary.

    • C says:

      I can’t understand why Katie Holmes did this.

      • Algernon says:

        She thought it would help her career. It didn’t.

      • sherry says:

        Being associated with and married to Cruise upped Nicole Kidman’s status from an Australian movie actress to International movie star. I’m sure Katie thought the same would probably happen for her.

      • Bread and Circuses says:

        He “love-bombed” her with huge displays of affection and lavish gifts, plus she had a crush on him when she was younger. If you look at their wedding photos, it’s clear she really loved him and was having a great time.

        She got more and more grim looking as the marriage wore on.

      • mila says:

        She married her child crush.

        I do not get HIM. He was a success before that cult, he had promising career. What the heck? How did they even get to him? I know it was via his first wife, but still… It is so weird. Is he that weak?

        I am glad both Kidman and Holmes got out. But seriously, what the heck were they thinking and why is that cult thing still a thing? Maybe some members are close to the government?

        So many weird, creepy questions..

    • Goldie says:

      I never really bought the idea that Katie got involved with Cruise, because she thought it would boost her career. At the beginning of the relationship, she turned down promising roles, and basically spent the first couple of years following him around. Who knows what she was thinking, but I don’t think her career was her priority at the time.

      • iseepinkelefants says:

        She used to have posters of him in her bedroom. She probably thought she was having her teenage dreams come true. I can see the career angle but she also always seemed like a Martha Steeard type waiting for her husband to come along so she could be a Stepford for the rest of her life, not a social climbing mastermind.

      • K says:

        I don’t think it was the career because her career was actually doing really well before him, she was getting a lot of attention and respect for her work.

        I think she had a crush on him from childhood and he gave her that massive rom com fairytale. I think as time went on she realized it was actually a nightmare.

      • msw says:

        Agreed. She had just come off a period of great critical acclaim for Pieces of April, and had a handful of other roles in the bag already. Her career was going pretty well. This looks like a straight-up abusive, controlling relationship. Abusers don’t always reveal themselves right away.

      • Winter says:

        Katie shares some responsibility for her situation he tried to change her name ,New CO$ bff that answered questions for her and if those kids bashed Nicole in front of Leah and this woman you can believe they told her there mom is a fucking sp . Tom made/makes all women take CO$ classes so she doesn’t get my sympathy he never hid what he is about hell she wasn’t his first choice!!!!! Technically only Katie and Penelope left he total dogged Nicole Kidman

      • CF98 says:

        Thank you but nobody else will see the obvious here her actions don’t coincide with a golddigger either. At least she got to keep her kid. Nicole didn’t even bother fighting it and unlike Katie was a bigger star by the time her marriage to Tom ended.

  2. Mia V. says:

    Even scientologists found Lindsay Lohan weird.

    • Aussie girl says:

      Essentialy it’s getting rejected by a weird cult.

    • Jwoolman says:

      Even Lindsay Lohan found Scientologists weird…. They apparently did try to recruit her at one point.

    • Casi says:

      I suspect they would have wanted her to reject drugs and credit Scientology for it. When it became clear that wasn’t going to happen…

  3. Squirrelgirl says:

    I cannot wait for this cult to end… With so many ex members speaking out they have to be hurting for people, no?

    • Aussie girl says:

      You would think so but I suppose there are always going to be vulable people they pray on.

    • Algernon says:

      I’ve read stories that their recruitment and donations are way down. They’ve lost a lot of momentum, but there will always be desperate people searching for a community they can prey upon. IIRC, Paul Haggis got involved initially because the early “levels” corresponded with his sobriety steps as he recovered from alcoholism. He gave an interview that said by the time he realized it was a cult, he was already in so deep.

    • Bridget says:

      Their numbers have always been lower than they state, but they have such extensive real estate holdings and assets that they could go on for long time.

      • JennaR says:

        Yes, I heard this too about their real estate holdings in the documentary “Going Clear.” Definitely worth watching. Upsetting but worth it.

    • mytake says:

      They’re now doing a lot of recruiting in Asia — and in Africa and Russia, if I’m not mistaken — where Scientology is still, relatively, an unknown entity.

      • mary s says:

        That’s sad to read. They’re probably giddy thinking of the possibilities of overseas recruits and the $$$ they’ll take in. And they still have tax exempt status, right?

      • Ellie says:

        I wouldn’t worry. They are biting off more than they can chew if they think they can scam people there. I think it takes a certain amount of affluenza to fall for this stuff.

      • ladysussex says:

        That’s frightening!

  4. HH says:

    Wait… So she gave them so much money she eventually had to get on food stamps? Listen, I’m no fan of the “welfare queen” trope (which is in fact just a trope), but I’d much rather prefer someone who’s caught up in the cycle of poverty live off government funds, than someone who had $1M to *give away* be on the government dime.

    • Algernon says:

      I see that point, but this is a really common element among cults. They take everything, including your money, to ensure your dependency on the cult. It’s incredibly nefarious, and one of the lesser-discussed ways cults abuse their victims.

      • HH says:

        Cults prey on vulnerable. But it’s just tough to gather sympathy when someone is giving way about $70K per yr (on avg). And then going on food stamps.

    • mary s says:

      I don’t understand why she couldn’t still do her voiceover work after leaving the cult. Did she lose all her contacts/jobs because of her involvement? Was losing everything and then, as a result, having nothing to offer them ($$) her way of getting out?

      • Aussie girl says:

        Maybe it was an in between thing. I can only imagine what it would be like to leave a cult that had control over your life. She may have needed to regroup and do some soul searching and then start on the job front.

    • msw says:

      I’m actually really surprised she would qualify for SNAP (food stamps). In my state, they will go back five years to see if you have given away money you could have spent on your own care, and if they see donations like this, you are disqualified.

  5. Christin says:

    This just keeps getting more bizarre. On a lighter note, I wish LiLo had won the ‘part’. They might have been a great match!

    • Naya says:

      Lilo would have brought that Church crumbling down. Nobody would believe their claims on psychiatry with someone as ill as her on Toms arm. This could have been Lilos contribution to humanity.

  6. CidySmiley says:

    Okay so I’m not all that familiar with Scientology. . What’s the supposed benefit of being in it. Like every cult there’s some kind of incentive what’s the one here? Why do people join? And what’s with Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes and scientology. . I need a brief history lesson!

    • Jwoolman says:

      Google for L. Ron Hubbard and Dianetics. It started out as a scifi-ish techie self-help program, and that is the lure today also. Some people who have broken ties with Co$ still practice the techniques. People join because they think it will help them succeed and deal with their problems. The rest of the religious-ish framework came later when they were seeking tax-exempt status as a church. Celebrities are treated differently to a considerable extent because they help recruitment. Actors can be drawn in by promises of better chances to get work because of Scientologists in positions to get them acting jobs.

    • Maire3 says:

      @Smiley: Difficult to answer your questions because Co$ has such crazy logic behind it.

      The documentary “Going Clear” is a good source for a history lesson. Check for streaming options or see if your local library has the DVD.

      The journalist Tony Ortega has been writing about the Co$ for years. There are some youtube clips from his book tour for “The Unbreakable Miss Lovely”

    • Jen d. says:

      It starts out like an advanced self help thing. They use psych techniques (even tough they denounce psychiatry) to “improve” overall health. They also engage in a lot of charity work, so in the beginning it can sound great. They have an auditing process where you basically confess a lot of personal things under the guise of helping you get better. This is all recorded. You have to pay to get to the next levels. It’s not until you “go clear” (reach the highest level) that they bring out all the alien crap. Meanwhile you’ve spent ton of money and they have recordings of you confessing your deepest secrets.

      • Tiny Martian says:

        Yes, and there is also the promise that those who reach the highest levels will have absolute mind control over themselves and others. Having an actor like Tom Cruise as their poster boy really helps to promote this idea, as they can say that he got where he is due to Scientology techniques, and that anyone who reaches the higher levels will have the same level of success and “charisma”, for want of a better word!

  7. Megan says:

    I love the name of her show. Too funny.

  8. TEAMHARDY says:

    As much as we are reading about the horrors of CO$, I worry that nothing will really ever change. This is a cult, pure and simple.

  9. Lilly says:

    I call bu!lsh!t. A quick look at her IMDB shows she’s lying about being ‘one of America’s top voiceovers’.

    Scientology is freaky as hell, but the Daily Mail is not above paying for made up stories and this smells like one of them.

    • Josefina says:

      Even if it is made up, it’s still perfectly plausible. This is actually one of the least strange stories I’ve read about that cult, to be honest.

    • Kitkatk8 says:

      Yeah – pinged my bs meter too. I looked her up right away and there’s not even a wiki page (except for her appearance on Bozo the Clown….?) And the imdb doesn’t match up with her claim. Unless I’ve got her name spelled wrong? Ehhhh
      But yes Scientology is weird as hell! My mom lives in Clearwater (where the main “church” is located) and there are scientologists who stand on street corners and hand out “self help quizzes” to passersby, but no where on the pamphlet/quiz does it actually say it’s for Scientology….they just try to rope you in under the guise of “finding the best you”. Weird.

    • DMD says:

      Cathy Schenkelberg is a highly regarded talent in the TV/Radio advertising market. She has been the voice of quite a few major national accounts for years. This would not show up on IMDB (movie data base).

      • amilu says:

        Thank you. That’s was my first guess. TV/radio commercial work wouldn’t show up on an IMDB profile.

    • JennaR says:

      If you go to her agent’s page, you’ll realize you’ve heard her in a lot of things and didn’t realize who it was.

  10. Alex says:

    Speaking of Tom, I saw the trailer for his new Jack Reacher movie before Trek over the weekend:


    The ridiculousness has reached ever new levels of such. I mean, self-parody doesn’t even touch it, it’s so pathetic and awful. I didn’t want to laugh at it because I feel like even cracking a smile for TC is betrayal of logic and reason, but in the end I couldn’t stop myself.

    • Tiny Martian says:

      Oh, my husband and I both saw the same trailer and we burst out laughing during it as well! It’s just too, too funny to see Cruise playing the “tough guy”. Plus, in the trailer it seemed like the Jack Reacher character was just randomly beating up every person he came in contact with, so the whole thing looks entirely stupid!

      • Jag says:

        Jack Reacher is supposed to be a big, intimidating man. They could’ve had Chris Hemsworth play him and it would be better!

  11. Algernon says:

    I thought the story with ScarJo was that he wanted to audition her and she blew him off (in Italy, maybe?). I seem to remember the rumor that she wasn’t into it, because it made me like her, that she saw through that CO$ BS.

    • Chetta B. says:

      Apparently a meeting was set up but once she saw the address and what it was, she ran the other way – stat.

  12. Pandy says:

    I can’t believe she continued to pay to hang with the church? Who doesn’t take a step back and question what they are doing when they watch their money just disappear?

    • mary s says:

      Huh. I don’t understand this either. I’m confused about how people get drawn in past the point of no return so quickly. Are cult members also prone to addiction? Is involvement a sort of addiction? Has anyone ever started, then quit because it was just too crazy? The stories I’ve heard were from people who were very heavily involved for years before breaking away.

      • msw says:

        The church starts you out small by giving you little “self help” and awareness trainings, and make you feel good. While they are placating the ego and the feelings of belonging, they stoke the flames by saying Scientology has the keys to happiness and truth, and that as they grow bigger and stronger, Scientology can save the world from itself. While this is going on, they tell you that learning too much about Scientology beliefs too soon can literally kill you. The general public didn’t know all that much about Scientology before Tom Cruise went off the rails. Before Tom fired his publicist and his image jumped the couch, so to speak, most people didn’t know anything about it at all, or just thought it was weird but mostly harmless, with no knowledge of the extensive abuse within the church, and the way it preyed on people.

        The financial investment doesn’t start off as thousands of dollars. They begin small. The more involved they get, the more they have been brainwashed into believing in the method and the mission. The more they give, the more tied they feel, and are a lot less likely to question the crazy crap about medicines, Xenu and thetans and all the other stuff. Public knowledge has been power – now that the general public knows more about their nefarious practices and the insanity of their creed, far fewer people are interested in even giving it a try. Everyone says they wouldn’t be taken in by a cult, or be in an abusive relationship, but that’s misplaced grandiosity. Some people are most definitely more vulnerable than others, but no one can be 100% sure they would never be brainwashed by walking into a situation they don’t have much knowledge of.

  13. freewhitebaby says:

    What I don’t get is why such a “catch” like Tom Cruise can’t find a girlfriend on his own. He must be next-level undatable if he attract gold-diggers on his own. And now ever the CO$ can’t find anybody stupid enough to go out with him. lol It’s time for old OneTooth to retire.

    • Arock says:

      Once you see the toof, you can not unsee the toof.

    • Arock says:

      Once you see the toof, you can not unsee the toof.

    • ladysussex says:

      Who says he doesn’t have female companionship in his life? Just because he hasn’t been papped with a woman doesn’t mean he’s not seeing someone. I imagine it’s very hard for him to meet women “naturally” since he’s so famous. He can’t really hang out in pubs or go on Yeah it’s weird that he auditioned women, but it’s not more strange than “The Bachelor”. Not that I’m a TC apologist by any stretch, but I can see how he thought using scientology as an avenue to meet eligible women who shared his beliefs was a good idea.

    • Mytbean says:

      How this happens is the same way someone goes into a casino and walks out destitute. Each loss and the player tells himself he can win it all back next play.

      I think the church keeps telling followers like this that with each level they climb too they are closer and closer to being perfection and that all of the money is an investment towards that. If they stop, it’s a loss. But they believe if they keep going there’ll be a payoff.

  14. Liz says:

    I will never pay to see another Tom Cruise movie again. Haven’t done so in the past 8-10 years. He and the Church are dangerous. Cannot support his type of tyranny. Tom is not someone who was sucked into Scientology. He chooses to stay and use others for their labor and money.

  15. ygsf says:

    Lindsay Lohan as a Scientologist, dating Tom Cruise—now that is a reality show that I would watch.

  16. cakecakecake says:


    the more I find out, the creepier Tom gets, smdh.

  17. Winter says:

    This woman should take some personal responsibility she stayed after she was made to sleep on the kitchen floor because a celebrity took her room kept putting money into the church even though she couldn’t pay to keep at least one rooftop over her child head!!! Tom can`t go after normal women he tried but Nicole and Penelope weren’t putting up with crazy CO$

    • mayamae says:

      The story goes that Nicole had all but pulled him out of the cult, and that’s why they went after her hard core. Tom will never leave CO$, because he will have to internalize what he’s allowed them to do to him, Nicole, and his children.

      • Winter says:

        But then they started to have serious problems so he returned to them for guidance David told him to get rid of her so he could help him get back on track .Witch I don’t believe she saw coming they redid their vowls so obviously she at least thought the problems were over or the baby might save them . Then one day he took the kids packed his stuff and just left refused to come back ! Yes he won’t leave Co$ nothing to show if he dose he let Penelope ,Nicole, and mimi just to make cos happy go I don’t think he really loved Katie just the idea

      • Liz says:

        He will also have to internalize that he, via the Church, rob people of their hard earned money so he can live in the lap of luxury.

  18. itsme says:

    I feel bad for her but at the same time I question the… brains maybe, of a person who would spend so much money on leveling up in a weird religion. Not paying your rent so you can pay your church?! I mean I guess it happens in other religions, Jim Bakker defrauded many out of their hard-earned money in the name of tithing. Its a shame.

    • Trixie says:

      “Not paying your rent so you can pay your church?! ”

      I once knew a woman who always paid lots of money to her Christian church but was constantly too broke to afford the other basic needs she had. Like, she’d rather spend money on her church than on paying for food for herself and her kids. I thought that was also stupid as hell. And that was Christianity.

  19. Izzy says:

    I’ve read a lot on $cientology (some of it on this site and from fellow commenters, where the coverage has been fantastic). I understand that people get sucked in, they’re vulnerable, it becomes a cycle of dependency on this ridiculous cult. But…

    At what point does anyone own their sh-t? I mean, at some point did it really not occur to her that, hey, maybe it’s not such a great idea to give up so much money that she can’t afford medical or dental insurance anymore? That she’s homeless? I understand that this cult tries to take over all aspects of your life. But at some point, you do relinquish that control completely, yes? Until then, you still have the option to say, nope, sorry, I need a roof over my head.

    I still have the utmost sympathy for her and what she went through. I just wish she didn’t present it quite like she did, where it sounds like there’s no personal responsibility, just one day she woke up and boom, everything was gone. She DID have a direct hand in making the decisions that led there.

    And I can’t believe I’m saying any of this. But here we are.

  20. karen2 says:

    …I’m sure Ive read that it was mimi who introduced him to the cult but all the stuff that comes out she stays quiet…how many here have seen what he used to look like…didnt he say he had trouble reading…think what he looks like now & what he does..remember for many, not all, its an optional cult…theres loads of them out there…all Im saying as freedom to choose your religion…plus its hollyweird for a reason…I just love the fact that Paramount threw him a party for the success of Rogue Nation when a few years before they practically threw him under a bus…for those who dislike him it looks like he’ll never get an Oscar…which is a shame cos he keeps a lot of people in work….

    • Ennie says:

      (side eye)

    • Ange says:

      “it looks like he’ll never get an Oscar…which is a shame cos he keeps a lot of people in work….”

      One doesn’t win an Oscar for judicious use of slave labour.

  21. my3cents says:

    I’ve recently watched “The Path” it’s really a good series- basically about a cult , pretty much resembling COS.

  22. annie says:

    yes but it’s obvious tho he goes for and marries non scientologists, like NK and KH, he failed really badly with Katie. Whatever happened she seemed very much in love with him ,and stayed because she still loved him, until she had to get out for her daughters sake.

  23. Rayya Kirt says:

    This would be my Tom Cruise audition tape: Hi Tom!!!!!!!! (Picture me grinning ear to ear with ridiculously white teeth and intense energy to convey my out of this world intergalactic enthusiasm befitting of this Alien King) My name is X2€wlo#d2. But you can call me Mrs. Cruise. I love ice cream, asking for permission, jumping on couches and traveling to different planets. My dislikes are anyone who is taller than you, Nicole Kidman, tell all’s and heterosexual coupling. I feel we would be a great match because I will always think you’re a special great dancing snowflake, an increasingly calm person who has no a.d.h.d qualities whatsoever, modest, a down to earth thinker and overall, someone who is great about meeting girls spontaneously. If you would like to get to know me better, I am currently being brainwashed… Err…I mean, audited in room 4. I look forward to hearing from your people in regards of whether you should like me. And, yes, I adore L. Ron Hubbard and in no way find him delusional or certifiable megalomaniac who built a cult. You are correct that sci fi is reality. Mork n Mindy! Greatest love story ever told. PS. I drive my own space ship so I can meet you anywhere, don’t need transportation.
    E.T. found home with you xo