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“That was the moment I broke.”
Warning: This post includes discussion of abuse.
Jennette McCurdy’s memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died, is out in a few days — and excerpts show the reality of her time as a child star with Nickelodeon.
For context, Jennette was just 6 when she began auditioning for acting jobs. Her mother, Debra, who was controlling and abusive, ushered Jennette into acting after she herself was discouraged from pursuing it by her parents.
In one excerpt, Jennette recalled trying to tell her mom that she wanted to quit acting after a failed police procedural audition because it made her “uncomfortable.” In turn, she wrote of her mother’s reaction: “‘You can’t quit!’ she sobs. ‘This was our chance! This was ouuuuur chaaaaance!'”
“She bangs on the steering wheel, accidentally hitting the horn. Mascara trickles down her cheeks. She’s hysterical,” Jennette continued. Jennette subsequently told her mom she would keep acting — and she stopped crying.
Then, when Jennette was 14, she booked iCarly. She was in the car with her mom when the call came through, and wrote, “I jump into Mom’s arms. She squeezes me. I’m elated. Everything’s going to be different now. Everything’s going to be better. Mom will finally be happy. Her dream has come true.”
However, at Nickelodeon, things were far from perfect — per the New York Times, Jennette wrote of being pictured in a bikini at a wardrobe fitting and having a figure called “the Creator” encourage her to drink alcohol.
Although Jennette’s mom was there for some of this, her response was to tell her “Everyone wants what you have” — and that such embarrassment was a part of Hollywood.
Jennette was then promised an iCarly spinoff, which ended up being Sam & Cat with Ariana Grande — not exactly the solo show she’d expected. Higher ups on the shows wouldn’t let her go after outside career opportunities, which didn’t necessarily apply to her costars.
“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. That was the moment I broke,” she recalled, implying that such an opportunity would not be allowed to Jennette by her supervisors.
Sam & Cat had one season, after which Jennette said she was offered $300,000 from Nickelodeon to never speak publicly about her experiences there.
“My whole childhood and adolescence were very exploited,” she told the New York Times. “It still gives my nervous system a reaction to say it. 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.”
You can read the excerpts from I’m Glad My Mom Died, out Aug. 9, here.