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Jennette McCurdy: The most shocking revelations from star’s memoir

‘I’m Glad My Mom Died’ includes claims of exploitation, anorexia, co-star feuds, and more

Inga Parkel
Thursday 11 August 2022 05:58 BST
Jennette McCurdy says she turned down Nickelodeon 'hush money' meant to silence her
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Jennette McCurdy has opened up about her abusive childhood in a scathing memoir titled, I’m Glad My Mom Died.

In the new book – published on Tuesday (9 August) – the former Nickelodeon actor reveals the emotional and physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother Debra since she was a young girl. Her mother died in 2013 of breast cancer.

The now 30-year-old star includes additional details of co-star feuds, exploitation, and on-set mishandlings.

Here are some of the most shocking revelations from I’m Glad My Mom Died:

iCarly star says she was “exploited” as a child actor on the Nickelodeon series

Ahead of its release, McCurdy sat down with The New York Times to speak about her memoir. There, she opened up about working on Nickelodeon’s sitcom.

The six-season sitcom, which premiered in 2007, followed Carly Shay (Miranda Cosgrove) after the instant success of her web series turns her “normal” life upside down. She must rely on her friends Sam Puckett (Jennette McCurdy) and Freddie Benson (Nathan Kress) to manage her newfound success.

Jennette McCurdy Portrait Session (2022 Invision)

Only 15 when the series began, McCurdy said there were “cases where people had the best intentions and maybe didn’t know what they were doing”.

Yet, she noted that there were also cases when older people around her “knew exactly what they were doing”.

The outlet further addressed claims included in the memoir, in which McCurdy alleges she was “photographed in a bikini at a wardrobe fitting” and was “encouraged to drink alcohol by an intimidating figure” she refers to as “The Creator”.

McCurdy said that her mother Debra was present during these alleged moments, but didn’t get involved as she believed this was what happened when you were in the acting business.

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After the series ended in 2012, McCurdy went on to co-star with Ariana Grande in the spin-off series Sam and Cat.

McCurdy claims that after that show was cancelled, Nickelodeon offered her $300,000 (£248,000) to keep her alleged experiences to herself – but she says she turned the sum down.

The Independent has contacted Nickolodeon for comment.

McCurdy’s mother warned her not “to get too close” to Miranda Cosgrove because she didn’t “believe in God”

Jennette McCurdy and Miranda Cosgrove (Nickleodeon Network/Schneider’S Bakery/Kobal/Shutterstock)

Elsewhere in her book, McCurdy recounted her first encounter with former iCarly co-star Miranda Cosgrove.

“She was leaning against a wall, sipping Coke from a glass bottle and texting on her Sidekick,” the former child star wrote.

The two first met at their screen test. However, while they didn’t talk much during the pilot’s filming, McCurdy remembered receiving a gift basket from Cosgrove.

“I’m really surprised that another child actor would be so nice to me,” she said. “Usually there’s such a sense of competition. This gesture is the opposite of that. I’m touched.”

She continued: “On set, Miranda said cuss words like ‘s***’ and ‘ass,’ and she took the Lord’s name in vain at least 50 times a day. Mom warned me not to get too close to Miranda because she doesn’t believe in God.”

Cosgrove has not spoken openly about her religious beliefs or lack thereof.

McCurdy, who was brought up as in the Church of Latter-day Saints, added: “Nathan [Kress, who played Freddie Benson] is OK for me to get close to, Mom says, because he does [believe]. ‘Southern Baptists are no Mormons, but at least we’ve got Jesus in common.”

McCurdy says her mother “explicitly” told her how to engage in disordered eating

Jennette McCurdy Portrait Session (2022 Invision)

In the memoir, McCurdy wrote that her mother taught her disordered eating so that she could delay puberty and continue to land child roles so she could support her family.

Later, in a separate interview with The Cut, McCurdy said her mother, “explicitly told me how to engage in disordered eating”.

She continued: “As a survival instinct and a coping mechanism growing up, I couldn’t face that it was an eating disorder, and I just lived in the delusion that this was mom’s way of helping me and helping my career.

“In therapy and in retrospect, recognising that as such obvious abuse, it’s unsettling,” she continued.

Elsewhere in the interview, the former child star revealed that when one doctor suggested she might have an eating disorder, the idea was vehemently denied both by McCurdy and her mother.

“My first therapist had suggested that she was abusive, and that led me to leave that therapist,” McCurdy told the publication, adding, “I couldn’t handle the idea that my mother was abusive because that would mean reframing my entire life. The one narrative of my life was ‘Mommy knows best.’”

The actor “didn’t like” her Sam & Cat co-star Ariana Grande because she kept missing work to focus on music

Jennette McCurdy and Ariana Grande (Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)

McCurdy wrote that she wasn’t a fan of working with Ariana Grande on iCarly spin-off, Sam & Cat, because the then-burgeoning pop star kept taking time off to focus on her music career.

The actor recalled being told she was “a good sport” about the fact that Grande frequently missed filming for music commitments.

“I know why I’m hearing this phrase so often,” McCurdy wrote. “It’s because my co-star Ariana Grande is a burgeoning pop star who misses work regularly to go sing at award shows, record new songs, and do press for her upcoming album while I stay back and angrily hold down the fort.”

McCurdy said she became “a bitter person” because she had had to turn down projects due to her commitment to iCarly while Grande appeared to get a free pass.

“So I have to turn down movies while Ariana’s off whistle-toning at the Billboard Music Awards,” she wrote.

“Ariana misses work in pursuit of her music career while I act with a box. I’m pissed about it. And I’m pissed at her. Jealous of her.”

McCurdy added that she was envious of Grande because “she had a much easier upbringing than I did”.

Jennette McCurdy Portrait Session (2022 Invision)

She claims that her jealousy of Grande became harder to conceal as the singer’s success grew.

“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,” she said. “That was the moment I broke. I couldn’t take it anymore.”

“From that moment on, I didn’t like her. I couldn’t like her,” she added. “Pop star success I could handle, but hanging out with Sheriff Woody, with Forrest F***ing Gump? This has gone too far.”

McCurdy recalled being yelled at persistently while filming her first kiss with iCarly co-star Nathan Kress

In another section of the book, McCurdy detailed the on-set experience of her first kiss – both on-screen and off-screen – with co-star Kress.

“Our lips are touching. He’s moving his mouth around a bit, but I can’t move mine. I’m frozen,” she remembered. “His eyes are closed. Mine aren’t. Mine are wide open, staring at him. It’s so odd, staring at a person while your faces are touching. I don’t like it. I can smell his hair gel.”

McCurdy continued: “‘Move your head around a bit more, Jennette!’ The Creator yells from off-camera.”

She added that she “honestly” tried to follow the instructions, but she felt “stiff” and “unflinching”.

“My mind is saying who cares that this is your first kiss, that your first kiss is on-camera. Get it over with. Do what you’re told,” she said. “My body is saying no, I don’t want this. I don’t want my first kiss to be like this. I want my first kiss to be a real first kiss, not a kiss for a TV show.”

Jennette McCurdy Portrait Session (2022 Invision)

McCurdy explained that she was “embarrassed by” her romantic side, therefore suppressing it, because her mother had discouraged it.

“You try to just go with it, and if you’re Nathan, my co-star, it seems like you can,” she wrote. “But if you’re me, you can’t. If you’re me, you’re just thinking about every single little thing that’s happening, and your mind is racing, and you can’t wait for it to be over with.”

Afterwards, she said that The Creator yelled “cut!” before approaching her.

“The Creator looks me right in the eye but doesn’t say anything for four or five seconds,” she said. “I almost start to laugh, thinking he might be messing with me for fun like he does sometimes, but then I recognise that there is a deep anger in him. This is no time for laughter. Finally, he speaks.”

“‘Jennette. More. Head. Movement,’” she wrote, adding that he demanded the crew continue rolling the cameras.

Once again, McCurdy said that after another take, The Creator shouted “cut!” and that she could “tell by his tone” that he was upset with the footage. After seven takes, The Creator was told they needed to move on.

“‘Fine,’ he says angrily,” McCurdy wrote. “‘That was not ideal but FINE, we’ll move on. I’ll be at crafty!’”

I’m Glad My Mom Died is out now.

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