Warning: the below discusses sexual and mental abuse and mental illness which maybe troubling to some readers.
Actress Jennette McCurdy, best known for her role as Sam Puckett in the Nickelodeon series iCarly, and later alongside Ariana Grande in Sam & Cat, has written an explosive memoir called I’m Glad My Mom Died. If that title grabs your attention, it’s not by mistake.
It’s about her life in acting, the abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother, and the predatory and often abusive behaviour at the hands of one Nickelodeon producer whom she calls “The Creator,” largely understood to be referencing Dan Schneider.
so excited about this i’m probably going to get it framed… pic.twitter.com/77Cunb6se6— Jennette McCurdy (@jennettemccurdy) August 4, 2022
She reveals several eye-opening details about her life in front of and behind the camera in the book, but she’s also spoken publicly in interviews about her struggles that have resulted from years of abuse - namely, an eating disorder, emotional and mental health struggles, the decision not appear in the iCarly reboot and quitting acting altogether.
Debra Curdy died in 2013 of cancer, but according to Jennette, it was Debra’s dream to become a famous actress, not her own. She says she went into Hollywood to make her mother happy. But the happiness was short-lived because, as Jennette shared in an interview with The Washington Post, her mother controlled every aspect of her life.
Jennette tells the outlet that Debra gave her daughter showers until she was 16 years old, which included everything from washing her hair, shaving her legs and even performing routine breast and vaginal exams. Her mother explained it was to check for cancerous lumps, but Jennette now understands that wasn’t the case.
“She worked really hard to keep our relationship very private. I now see it as conditioning, but at the time I thought, ‘Oh, Mommy and me have a relationship that’s so special,’” Jennette told the outlet. “Like when you have a best friend and you have all these secrets and that feels like a form of intimacy. That’s exactly what my mom did with me — only it wasn’t friendship. It was abuse.”
Speaking with the outlet, Jennette also says her eating disorder came from her mother who insisted on controlling her meals so that, as she puts it, it would delay the onset of puberty and she could be cast in more child roles. She describes having to order salads without dressing, and never cleaning her plate due to her mother’s conditioning.
In an excerpt from her book, published by E! News, McCurdy details how her mother was a master manipulator to get what she wanted. When she told her mother she wanted to quit acting, she writes, "Mom looks at me in the rearview mirror. A mixture of shock and disappointment fills her eyes. I immediately regret saying anything."
"She bangs on the steering wheel, accidentally hitting the horn. Mascara trickles down her cheeks," Jennette says in the book "Her hysteria frightens me and demands to be taken care of."
"'Never mind,' I say loudly so Mom can hear it through her sobs. Her crying stops immediately, except for one leftover sniffle, but as soon as that sniffle is over, it's complete silence. I'm not the only one who can cry on cue."
i’m genuinely thrilled to announce my memoir I’m Glad My Mom Died will be out 8 / 9 / 22. i laughed and cried a lot while writing it and i’m proud of what it’s become. huge thank you to @simonandschuster - especially my editor sean manning. pre-order here: https://t.co/hudPT2gDma— Jennette McCurdy (@jennettemccurdy) April 4, 2022
In an excerpt from her book, published by Vanity Fair, Jennette writes that ‘The Creator’ forced her to drink while she was underage, and would emotionally abuse her, telling her that she wasn’t special, and that she should be grateful to him for the opportunity. She then writes an absolutely bone-chilling account of what happened next…
He reaches out and places his hand on my knee. I get goose bumps.
“You’re cold,” he says, concerned.
I don’t think that’s why I got the goose bumps, but I agree. It’s always best to agree with The Creator.
“Here, take my jacket.”
He takes his coat off and drapes it around me. He pats my shoulders and then the pat turns into a massage.
“Oof, you’re so tense!”
“Yeah . . .”
“Anyway, what was I saying?” he asks while he keeps massaging me.
My shoulders do have a lot of knots in them, but I don’t want The Creator to be the one rubbing them out. I want to say something, to tell him to stop, but I’m so scared of offending him.
“Oh, right,” he says, remembering his train of thought without my help. “Every kid out there would kill for an opportunity like the one you’ve got. You’re very lucky, Jennetter.”
“I know,” I say while he keeps rubbing me. And I do. I do know. I’m so lucky.
When Sam & Cat was canceled after one season, she writes that "The Creator" got in trouble with Nickelodeon for emotional abuse, and wasn’t allowed on-set with any of the young actors. Then she received a conference call from her agents and managers, which she says included alleged “hush money” to never publicly speak about the abuse she suffered. She writes,
“. . . they’re offering you three hundred thousand dollars.”
I pause. This doesn’t sound right to me. “Why?”
“Well-think-of-it-like-a-thank-you-gift,” he blurts out in one mushed-together phrase.
A thank-you gift? That doesn’t sound like Nickelodeon. I’m suspicious.
“Yeah, a thank-you gift,” Manager #1 repeats. “They’re giving you three hundred thousand dollars and the only thing they want you to do is never talk publicly about your experience at Nickelodeon.” Specifically related to The Creator.
“No,” I say immediately and instinctively. A long pause.
“N-no?” Agent #3 finally asks.
“It’s free money,” Manager #1 offers.
“No it’s not. This isn’t free money. This feels to me like hush money.”
In her interview with The Washington Post, Jennette reveals that her Sam & Cat costar Ariana Grande was nice, and they were nice to each other, but they weren’t exactly tight or best friends. In fact, she reveals that she began to resent Ariana’s liberty to miss work for her then-growing music career, whereas Jennette had to turn down offers for big movie roles in order to keep the show going and hold down the fort.
She tells the outlet her breaking point came when the “Thank You Next” singer showed up one morning to set, revealing she’d spent the night before playing charades at Tom Hanks’s house.
“I love Tom Hanks!” Jennette said. “What I would give to meet Tom Hanks.”
She tells The Washington Post that when Miranda Cosgrove reached out to her to appear in the reboot, she “immediately no’d” the idea.
“That was an easy ‘no’ for me,” she recalls. “My biggest priority is my mental health and my happiness, and there was no intersection there. There was no overlap.”
She says she hasn’t acted since 2017, instead preferring to direct and focus on her writing.
While The Washington Post says a representative for Nickelodeon declined to comment on Jennette’s book and interview, and that requests for comment from Dan Schneider’s agent were not returned, that hasn’t stopped Twitter from commenting and sharing their thoughts on Jennette’s story.
dan schneider needs to be in prison. this has been happening since the 90s probably earlier! more past child stars should speak out. he needs to have a doc on him like rkelly. good on Jeanette mccurdy for not taking the money and speaking up. much respect for her.— k🌻 (@musicmovies7) August 5, 2022
There needs to be an investigation into Nickelodeon cause they offered Jeanette mccurdy money to keep quiet. They are clearly complicit— randobot#99 🏴☠️🇮🇪 (@nathangilmarti1) August 5, 2022
That Jeanette McCurdy article book excerpt was rough to read.— Stranger Steves (@SteveMightSay) August 5, 2022
If you decide to read it it's rather disturbing.
And I feel bad for Jeanette McCurdy because she technically spent her childhood in hell with her mom then her early youth around a fucking creep. I’m hoping she’s well mentally.— 𝒮𝒾𝑒. (@Cindtrillella) August 5, 2022
Jeanette McCurdy honey get behind me— georgie🥨 (@riccmoranis) August 5, 2022