Former Nickelodeon child star Jennette McCurdy has penned a very raw — and very real — autobiography entitled “I’m Glad My Mom Died.”
The book addresses the serious plight of child stars being forced into the entertainment industry by their parents, and the psychological, and sometimes physical, abuse that occurs as a result.
In McCurdy’s case, her mother, Debra, courted the paparazzi and encouraged her young daughter to develop an eating disorder to remain unnaturally thin after puberty. Debra passed away on September 20, 2013, after being first diagnosed with cancer 17 years prior.
Viva New Zealand shared details about McCurdy’s success on one of the world’s most popular kids’ networks, but it was not all fun and games behind the scenes:
From 2007 to 2014 McCurdy starred as online influencer Sam Puckett in two hit Nickelodeon teen series, iCarly and Sam & Cat — one episode of the former attracted 11.2m viewers and remains the network’s second-most watched broadcast in history. A reboot last year was a success story from which the creators of the revamped Sex & The City could learn a lot.
In one recent article about her experiences as a child actor alongside other famous faces like Miranda Cosgrove, quotes from McCurdy’s new autobiography are shared:
The child actors, she claims, were pitted against each other. She was encouraged to drink alcohol, yelled at while filming her first kiss, given borderline-appropriate massages, then claims she was offered money not to speak out.
“Nickelodeon is offering me $300,000 in hush money to not talk publicly about my experience on the show?” McCurdy writes in her book. “This is a network with shows made for children. Shouldn’t they have some sort of moral compass?”
It is worth noting that Dan Schneider, producer of many of Nickelodeon’s hit shows in the early 2000s, left the company in 2018. He has denied any allegations of inappropriate behavior.
As for McCurdy, she is speaking her truth — her book sold over 200,000 copies in its first two weeks on the shelves, and is being hailed as “Insightful and incisive…fans will be rapt” by Publishers Weekly. Jenny Lawson asked, “How can a book be so sad and also so funny?,” while another child star, Hayley Mills (The Parent Trap, Pollyanna) called the title, “A riveting read.”
While physical copies of the book are tough to find right now, an audiobook version read by McCurdy herself is available. The official description of “I’m Glad My Mom Died” reads:
Jennette McCurdy was six years old when she had her first acting audition. Her mother’s dream was for her only daughter to become a star, and Jennette would do anything to make her mother happy. So she went along with what Mom called “calorie restriction,” eating little and weighing herself five times a day. She endured extensive at-home makeovers while Mom chided, “Your eyelashes are invisible, okay? You think Dakota Fanning doesn’t tint hers?” She was even showered by Mom until age sixteen while sharing her diaries, email, and all her income.
In I’m Glad My Mom Died, Jennette recounts all this in unflinching detail—just as she chronicles what happens when the dream finally comes true. Cast in a new Nickelodeon series called iCarly, she is thrust into fame. Though Mom is ecstatic, emailing fan club moderators and getting on a first-name basis with the paparazzi (“Hi Gale!”), Jennette is riddled with anxiety, shame, and self-loathing, which manifest into eating disorders, addiction, and a series of unhealthy relationships. These issues only get worse when, soon after taking the lead in the iCarly spinoff Sam & Cat alongside Ariana Grande, her mother dies of cancer. Finally, after discovering therapy and quitting acting, Jennette embarks on recovery and decides for the first time in her life what she really wants.
Told with refreshing candor and dark humor, I’m Glad My Mom Died is an inspiring story of resilience, independence, and the joy of shampooing your own hair.
Did you get a copy of “I’m Glad My Mom Died” yet?