Former child star Jennette McCurdy says she was 'exploited' on the sets of Nickelodeon's 'iCarly'
Jennette McCurdy has claimed in her memoir that she was "exploited" as a child actor and is still healing from the trauma of the years past. The now-retired actress played comic roles in Nickelodeon's 'iCarly' and 'Sam & Cat', but she is still healing from the trauma of being a child star.
In her memoir titled 'I'm Glad My Mom Died,' the 29-year-old revealed how she wanted to quit acting at a young age because she never enjoyed it. She also recounted a particular audition that made her feel uncomfortable, but when she told her mom about it, she freaked out and later guilted her into continuing acting despite her hatred for it.
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Who is Jennette McCurdy?
Born on June 26, 1992, Jennette Michelle Faye McCurdy is a filmmaker, singer-songwriter, and former actress. Her breakthrough role as Sam Puckett in the Nickelodeon sitcom 'iCarly' (2007–2012) won her four Kids' Choice Awards, among several other accolades. Jennette reprised the character in its spin-off series 'Sam & Cat' (2013–2014), after which she left the network. She has since appeared in a number of other TV series, including 'Malcolm in the Middle' (2003–2005), 'Zoey 101' (2005), 'Lincoln Heights' (2007), 'True Jackson', 'VP' (2009–2010), and 'Victorious' (2012).
Jennette is also an acclaimed musician. In 2009, she independently released her debut single 'So Close', and the following year, she released her debut extended play, 'Not That Far Away'. In 2012, she released her eponymous second extended play and debut studio album. The record's lead single 'Generation Love' debuted at number 57 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and peaked at number 44.
Speaking to the New York Times on Thursday, August 4, Jennette said her "whole childhood and adolescence were very exploited." She remarked, "There were cases where people had the best intentions and maybe didn't know what they were doing. And also cases where they did—they knew exactly what they were doing." In her new memoir, Jennette writes about being "photographed in a bikini at a wardrobe fitting and being encouraged to drink alcohol by an intimidating figure she simply calls the Creator." While the identity of 'The Creator' is unknown, Jennette said her mother Debra McCurdy, who died of cancer in 2013, was present in such instances but didn't take action as she thought it was part of being an actress.
Jennette swallowed her concerns at the time, but couldn't help feeling upset by the way she was treated on set, especially after she was promised a spin-off series. The former actress said Nickelodeon walked back on their promise and instead made her a co-lead in 'Sam & Cat,' alongside Ariana Grande. However, it was then that she realized she couldn't take it anymore. "What finally undid me was when Ariana came whistle-toning in with excitement because she had spent the previous evening playing charades at Tom Hanks's house," Jennette writes in 'I'm Glad My Mom Died.' "That was the moment I broke."
After 'Sam & Cat' was canceled, Nickelodeon allegedly offered her $300,000 to keep her experiences private but she refused the offer. Jennette's 'iCarly' co-star Miranda Cosgrove said she didn't understand at the time why her friend was so resentful, partly because she wasn't paying attention. "When you're young, you're so in your own head," Miranda told the Times. "You can't imagine that people around you are having much harder struggles." According to her, Jennette was good at keeping up appearances. "You don't expect things like that from the person in the room who's making everyone laugh," Miranda added.
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While Jennette uses humor as a coping mechanism, her memoir's title has already caused a stir in her family. "Our grandmother is very upset about that title," Jennette's brother Marcus told the Times. He seemed to understand his sister's plight more than others, having had first-hand experience of their mother's volatile nature. "You were always walking on eggshells — is it going to be nice mom or crazy mom today?" he recalled. "One day she'd be fine, the next day she'd be yelling at everybody. Every holiday was super overdramatic. She'd lose her mind on Christmas if something wasn't perfect." Marcus said he was fine with Jennette's humor if his embattled sister found healing through jokes. "You can either be like, ‘Woe is me, my life is horrible,' or you find the humor in these things that are really tragic," he told the Times.
'I'm Glad My Mom Died' will be available in bookstores on Tuesday, August 9.