When it comes to her opinions, Jennette McCurdy doesn’t hold back. The former Nickelodeon star reveals the horrific childhood trauma she endured in her just-published memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died. Much of this trauma was caused by her late mother, Debra, who exerted an unhealthy level of control over her.
McCurdy, who is best known for her hilarious appearances opposite Miranda Cosgrove in iCarly and Sam & Cat, reveals that the persona she adopted on screen was completely at odds with who she really is.
However, that wasn’t her sole guise. She also reveals that the public character she maintained throughout her youth and early adulthood was an act staged by her mother, who longed for Jennette to become famous. McCurdy previously told PEOPLE that her upbringing by her mother was difficult, despite her fame in the television industry.
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McCurdy told PEOPLE before the release of her biography that her “earliest memories of childhood were of heaviness and chaos.” In particular, “My mom’s emotions were so erratic that it was like walking a tightrope every day. The mood fluctuations were daily.”
The actress’s food disorders, substance abuse, and other problems all stem from the immense pressure of maintaining this image. At the same time, Jennette’s mother was facing difficulties of her own; when she was just 2 years old, Debra was diagnosed with breast cancer. Sadly, she passed away in 2013.
The 30-year-old actress is finally ready to talk about the two decades of emotional and physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother. Read on to learn the shocking details from the tell-all memoir of Jennette McCurdy, “I’m Glad My Mom Died”.
Her mother compelled her to become an actress.
Jennette claimed that her mother asked, “You want to be Mommy’s little actress?” and that she felt she had no choice but to pursue the career path that Debra wished she might have had.
Debra arranged auditions for her children with Barbara Cameron, mom to Kirk Cameron (from Growing Pains), and manager to Candace Cameron Bure (from Full House). Jennette was informed she “lacks charisma,” in contrast to her brother Marcus who was praised by Barbara for his monologue.
Devastated, Debra eventually convinced Barbara to accept Jennette, but only after she enrolled her in a rigorous acting school.
Childhood trauma from her mother’s control.
The actress claims her mother exerted a great deal of influence over her, including forcing her into the entertainment industry. In the memoir of Jennette McCurdy, Debra’s strict parenting is described as going as far as “wiping my butt” when she was eight years old, with the caveat that “I need to do it until I’m at least 10,” the latter being the minimum age at which Debra would allow her daughter any degree of independence.
Jennette also claims that Debra did regular breast and “front butt” checks on her to look for signs of cancer. “By the time the exams are done, a huge wave of relief washes over my whole body,” she pens. “I usually realize that’s the first time I’ve felt my body since the exam started.”
She also mentioned that her mother would give her a shower with her almost-16-year-old brother Scottie. When he asked to shower himself, Jennette writes: “Mom sobbed and said she didn’t want him to grow up so he never asked again after that.”
She got an eating disorder at a young age.
Jennette attributes her own eating condition to her mother and assumes that Debra too struggled with this issue. Jennette tries to make Debra happy by making her look younger because, as Jennette recalls, “the only thing worse than a cancer diagnosis is a growing-up diagnosis.”
As part of her efforts to make her mother happy, she’s been following Debra’s advice and cutting back on her food intake. “Each Sunday, she weighs me and measures my thighs with a measuring tape. After a few weeks of our routine, she provides me with a stack of diet books that I finish quickly,” Jennette McCurdy notes in her memoir, adding that she began to feel rewarded for going to extremes.
She wanted to quit before fame.
Jennette remembers the anxious moment she told her parents she wanted to leave acting, immediately regretting what she had just revealed, before she booked her breakout part on Nickelodeon’s iCarly. In her autobiography, Jennette describes her mother’s reaction: “Don’t be silly, you love acting. It’s your favorite thing in the world,’ Mom says in a way that makes it sound like a threat.”
“You can’t quit! This was our chance! This was ouuuuur chaaaaance!” McCurdy describes her mother’s reaction in the text. “She bangs on the steering wheel, accidentally hitting the horn. Mascara trickles down her cheeks. She’s hysterical like I was in the Hollywood Homicide audition. Her hysteria frightens me and demands to be taken care of.”
As a teen performer, she was allegedly exploited.
In several accounts, Jennette describes the many ways in which she was “exploited” as a teen actor. The actress never reveals who is behind the requests, instead referring to them as “The Creator” throughout the memoir.
Despite her preference for a one-piece swimsuit, she was forced to wear a bikini by “The Creator” (whom she labels “mean,” “controlling,” and “terrifying”) when filming an episode of iCarly. She claims she was afraid of people labeling her a “sexual being.”
Jennette also claims that “The Creator” encouraged her to drink alcohol when she was underage by likening the iCarly cast to “Victorious kids” who are “drunk all the time.”
She also claims that “The Creator” made her have her first kiss on camera with Nathan Kress for an iCarly episode. After filming, “The Creator” commented that the kiss was “not ideal but FINE” because she didn’t move her head at all.
She and Miranda Cosgrove have stayed on good terms.
Jennette admits she and her former iCarly co-star Cosgrove remain close friends despite the fact that filming on the show ended in 2012. In the book, Jennette speaks highly of Cosgrove as a kind friend who helped her through some of her worst times.
She was ‘Pissed’ at Ariana Grande on Sam & Cat
And her relationship with Grande, her ex-costar on Sam & Cat, was not like the rest of the cast (who played Cat Valentine in the series). In the spin-off, which aired for a single season beginning in 2013, Jennette reveals that her relationship with the singer was filled with jealousy and anger.
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Jennette, a former back-up singer for Ariana Grande, recounts being frustrated by Grande’s frequent absences from the performance when the pop sensation was at the height of her popularity.
“Ariana misses work in pursuit of her music career while I act with a box,” she says. “I’m pissed about it. And I’m pissed at her. Jealous of her.”
She was bribed to be silent about Nickelodeon
After the production of Sam & Cat wrapped, Jennette claims that she was given $300,000 to “never talk publicly about your experience at Nickelodeon,” especially in regards to “The Creator,” over a conference call with several of her agents and managers.
McCurdy recalled her saying, “This feels to me like hush money,” before politely declining the offer. She made it clear that she would refuse any offer of money to keep quiet about the network’s unethical use of children in their programming.
There were rumors that Jennette left the show because she was “upset” that her co-star was being paid more, she writes, and those rumors spread quickly after the series finished. According to Jennette, she was stated: “it was canceled because of a sexual harassment claim against one of our producers.” (PEOPLE’s request for comment to Nickelodeon went unanswered.)
She relapsed after her mom died but is recovering.
Jennette thought the news she whispered into her dying mother’s ear would bring her back from the brink of death. “Mommy. I am . . . so skinny right now. I’m finally down to 89 pounds,” Jennette McCurdy recalls in her memoir.
Jennette states that after her mother passed away, she relapsed and once again struggled with anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. “At least I feel thin and valuable and good about my body, my smallness. I look like a kid again. I’m determined to keep this up. I’m honoring Mom,” she writes.
She had visited several counselors before finding one who was able to aid her in her journey to wellness. She also expressed gratitude to Cosgrove for being by her side the whole way. Even though she acknowledges that getting better will be “difficult,” she remains upbeat, saying, “It’s the kind of difficult I have pride in.” Stay tuned with us only on Lee Daily