Jennette McCurdy Remembers the Sam & Cat Moment That ‘Broke’ Her

Photo: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

In five … four … three … two … Jennette McCurdy is telling you just how she feels. The former Nickelodeon star’s memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died, details the lack of control she experienced throughout her acting career. For example, she writes in her memoir, per the New York Times, that Nickelodeon prevented her from accepting other career opportunities during Sam & Cat, even though her co-star, singer Ariana Grande, was allowed to do so. “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,” McCurdy remembers in the memoir. “That was the moment I broke.” The actress further claims that after Sam & Cat was canceled in 2014, she rejected a $300,000 offer to not speak publicly about her time at Nickelodeon. (The network declined to comment to the Times.) After starring in the short-lived Netflix series Between, McCurdy took a break from acting. She did not appear in Paramount+’s new iCarly revival, which was recently renewed for a second season.

In the book, McCurdy explains that her acting career was always about pleasing her mom, Debra, who died of cancer in 2013. According to the Times, the actress writes that she was 6 years old when Debra (whose own parents hadn’t wanted her to pursue acting) had her start auditioning for roles. McCurdy began starring on iCarly at age 15. Per excerpts published by Entertainment Weekly, when she found out that she booked her role as Sam Puckett, she recalled thinking, “Everything’s going to be different now. Everything’s going to be better. Mom will finally be happy. Her dream has come true.” McCurdy also details an early failed attempt to quit the industry, after leaving an audition at which she was unable to cry on command. When she expressed on the drive home that acting made her uncomfortable, her mom began sobbing and banging on the steering wheel hysterically until McCurdy agreed to change her mind.

Per the Times, McCurdy writes about experiencing several uncomfortable situations while working at Nickelodeon, including being photographed in a bikini during a wardrobe fitting and having an (unnamed) intimidating figure encourage her to drink alcohol. Debra was sometimes present, but never intervened, explaining to her daughter that industry fame came at a cost. Allegedly, Debra was also controlling in other ways during her daughter’s teenage years: At the height of her fame on iCarly, McCurdy claims that her mom set the menu for dinners to shredded low-cal bologna and lettuce, personally gave her showers, shaved her legs, and performed breast and vaginal exams to inspect for cancer, per the Times. McCurdy’s book reportedly also includes a copy of an email from later in her life, when she was becoming more independent and thus more distant from her mom. In the email, Debra asks for money for a refrigerator after calling her daughter “a SLUT,” a “FLOOZY,” and “an UGLY MONSTER.”

I’m Glad My Mom Died is out on August 9, and McCurdy is reportedly already working on a novel and a collection of coming-of-age essays about her 20s. Still, the Times reports that the debut author hasn’t completely written off the idea of returning to performing one day, especially given how much her situation has changed with regard to the friends and colleagues in her life. “I have people around me now that are so supportive and so loving,” she said. “It makes me tearful with joy. I feel so safe. I feel so much trust and so much openness.”

Jennette McCurdy on the Sam & Cat Moment That ‘Broke’ Her