Jennette McCurdy is able to transfer ahead and look again

When Jennette McCurdy was 16, she was in her third year on iCarly, Nickelodeon’s hit teen comedy. Millions of young viewers admired her for her comedic role Sam Puckettwise-cracking friend of her title character, and she was proud that her lucrative job helped support her family.

McCurdy also lived under the strict control of her mother, Debra, who oversaw her career, regulated her diet — her dinners consisted of shredded low-calorie bologna and salad slathered with dressing — and even showered.

Her mother gave her breast and vaginal exams, which she said were checks for cancer, and shaved her daughter’s legs, leaving McCurdy largely uneducated about the changes her body was undergoing.

She struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders and anxiety caused by the constant attention she received as a celebrity, but felt stuck in her job. She also believed that she owed her unwavering loyalty to her mother, who recovered from breast cancer when Jennette was very young, only to have the cancer return in 2010, at the height of her daughter’s fame.

Debra McCurdy died in 2013, and Jennette, now 30, still relies on her mother’s gravitational pull, which led her into a business that gave her visibility and financial stability while she controlled almost every aspect of her daughter’s existence.

When Jennette McCurdy wrote the memoir, which Simon and Schuster will publish Aug. 9, she knew her relationship with her mother would provide narrative power. “It’s the heartbeat of my life,” she said recently.

The book is titled “I’m Glad My Mother Is Dead,” and the cover shows McCurdy with a narrow smile on her face, holding a pink funeral urn with confetti peeking over its rim. The presentation may be off-putting to some readers; the author is well aware. But she also thinks it accurately captures a coming-of-age story that’s alternately harrowing and wryly funny.

When you grow up like her, feeling both tenderness and anger at someone you see with great power fighting for your life, she said, “You can’t believe how hard it is and how funny it is at the same time. . It’s totally my sense of humor.

“I feel like I’ve done the processing and put in the work to earn a title or an idea that feels provocative,” she added.

While McCurdy may have the resume of a seasoned Hollywood veteran, she was something of a wide-eyed tourist during a visit to New York in late June. Over afternoon tea at BG Restaurant in midtown Manhattan, she eyed fellow diners, asked for Broadway theater recommendations and raved about a Transcendental Meditation class she was taking near her home in Los Angeles.

“I haven’t seen any results yet,” she said with a laugh, “but we’ll see.”

As for the new effort, McCurdy said, “I think everything should feel natural. A lot of my life has been about forcing or pushing things. So when something seems to work, I’ll let it be and the rest can fall into place.

As McCurdy recounts in her memoir, she began auditioning for acting roles at the age of 6 after being shepherded into acting by her mother, who was not encouraged by her own parents to become an actress.

Growing up in Southern California, McCurdy was cast in television commercials and similar shows “Food TV” “Malcolm in the Middle” and CSI before landing iCarly, which debuted in 2007. But she was never under any illusions about who these achievements actually benefited. As she writes about the moment she found out she had booked iCarly, “Everything is going to be better. Mom will finally be happy. Her dream has come true.”

McCurdy has faced various inconveniences and outrages at Nickelodeon, where she writes that she was photographed in a bikini near a wardrobe and was encouraged to drink alcohol by a terrifying figure she simply calls The Creator. When her mother was involved, Debra didn’t step in or speak up, pointing out to Jennette that this was the price of success in show business: “Everybody wants what you have,” she would tell her daughter.

When McCurdy was promised an “iCarly” spinoff, she thought she’d be given her own show — only to wind up with the role. Sam and the Cat which paired her with future pop sensation Ariana Grande.

There, she says, her bosses on those shows prevented her from pursuing a career outside of the show, and Grande thrived in extracurriculars. As McCurdy writes, “I ended up being upset by Ariana whistling with excitement because she’d spent the previous night playing charades at Tom Hanks’ house. That was the moment I broke.”

As McCurdy grew older and more independent, her relationship with her mother became even more strained. The book reproduces e. a letter in which her mother calls her a “SLEGGIE”, “LOST” and “UGLY MONSTER”, then ends with a request for money for a fridge. When Debra’s cancer returned and she died, Jennette, then 21, was freed—and left to navigate a complicated world without her guidance, battling destructive romantic relationships, bulimia, anorexia, and alcohol abuse.

iCarly ended its original run in 2012, and Sam & Cat ran for just one season in 2013-2014, after which, McCurdy writes, she turned down a $300,000 offer from Nickelodeon if she agreed to never speak publicly about her experience network. (A spokesperson for Nickelodeon declined to comment.)

She has been free to reclaim her personal life and pursue other projects, such as the Netflix sci-fi series In Between. But she found it hard to shake her resentment of how she was treated when she was younger. As she said in an interview: “It seemed like all these decisions were made on my behalf, and I was the last to know about them. It’s really annoying. It caused a lot of anger.”

Even now, McCurdy finds that returning to her child star era rekindles raw feelings about her parents and the industry that failed to protect her.

“My whole childhood and teenage years were very abused,” she said through tears. “It still gives my nervous system a reaction to say that. There have been times when people had the best intentions and may not have known what they were doing. And also the cases where they did it – they knew exactly what they were doing.

Marcus McCurdy, the oldest of Jennette’s three brothers, said their mother was constantly erratic when they were growing up.

“You’ve always walked on eggshells – will today be a beautiful mom or a crazy mom?” He said. “One day she would be fine, the next day she would be yelling at everyone. Every celebration was extremely dramatic. She would lose her mind at Christmas if something wasn’t perfect.

Friends and colleagues from Jennette McCurdy’s childhood acting days have said they sense a strain in her relationship with her mother, even if they don’t yet know the exact details.

“Jennette can be outspoken, very forward, bright and electric,” said pop singer and American Idol finalist David Archuleta. “I could also tell she was very protective, very protective of her mother and they were very close.

Archuleta, whose career was closely controlled by his father when he was a minor, said such arrangements can be harmful to children.

“Because you’re always with that parent, they really don’t let you around other people,” Archuleta said. “You don’t look at it as a control thing — you look at it as, ‘Oh, they’re waiting for me.’ And they make you feel like everyone is against you.

Over time, Archuleta added, the parent can become toxic. “It comes down to the saying, ‘You can’t make any decisions on your own.’ You can’t do anything by yourself. You are too stupid.”

iCarly star Miranda Cosgrove said that while she and McCurdy quickly became close on the show, she was initially unaware of the many struggles her friend was facing, and McCurdy only revealed them as they got older.

“When you’re young, you’re like that in your head,” Cosgrove said. “You have no idea that the people around you are facing much more difficult battles.

Cosgrove added in a softer voice, “You don’t expect that kind of thing from the person in the room who makes everyone laugh.”

McCurdy’s opening to the wider world was a long-term process. She wrote in her teens and early 20s essay in The Wall Street Journal. to share some of his insights on the child star. But today she feels not quite open.

“If I had been straight at the time,” she explained, “I would have said, ‘Yeah, I wrote that, and then I went and made myself throw up for four minutes after.’

A few years ago, McCurdy began writing a new series of personal essays, including several about her mother, and shared them with her then-supervisor. “My manager sent me a nice email. a letter that read: “This is great – I really don’t know what to do with it.” I will never forget the “xoxo” at the end. (McCurdy no longer works with that manager.)

Instead, she started a one-woman show in Los Angeles, also called I’m Glad My Mother Is Dead. While the pandemic has put a damper on planning a road show, McCurdy has used some of his downtime to write a memoir. “I really wanted to build it up a lot more, delve more into the childhood story aspect and read the arc in a way that you can only do with a book,” she explained.

Marcus McCurdy said he supports his sister’s decision to write a memoir, even if the title, “I’m Glad My Mother Died,” has caused some consternation in the family.

“Our grandmother is very upset about the title,” Marcus said, adding that he and his sister share a similar sense of humor. “It’s more of a coping mechanism,” he said. “You can say, ‘Woe is me, my life is terrible.’ Or you find humor in these things that are really tragic.

Archuleta also said it empowered McCurdy to write her book. “It gave her back some of her strength, some of her confidence,” he said.

McCurdy writes another essay about coming of age and romance. (Her character, she says, is “either who I wish I could be in some ways, or who I hope I’ll never be in other ways. But that’s probably me, right?”)

Aside from the few viewing parties her family threw for her early TV cameos, McCurdy told me, “I never saw a single show I was on.” For her, it was a document full of suffering and an unwelcome reminder of the helplessness she felt at the time.

After his Netflix series was canceled a few years ago, McCurdy decided to take a break from acting. As she writes in her memoirs: “I want my life to be in my hands. Not the eating disorder, the casting director, the agent, or my mom. Mine”. She was absent from the recent Paramount+ revival of iCarly. But McCurdy said her experience with her one-woman show showed that performing could be constructive for her in the future.

“I felt significant when I sorted out some really difficult, complicated relationships I had with acting,” she said. “It felt like I was finally saying my words and saying what I wanted to say. I am myself.”

While McCurdy may still feel uncomfortable reflecting on her past, she also hopes to focus on the present and see the friends and colleagues who are a part of her life because she chose them to be a part of it.

“Now I have people around me who are so supportive and loving,” she said. “It makes me cry with joy. I feel so safe. I feel so much confidence and so much openness.”

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