Jennette McCurdy Opens about iCarly Hush Money Scandal

Jennette McCurdy has condemned Nickolodeon for her treatment as a child actor

For young audiences who religiously watched iCarly back in 2007, it’s difficult to imagine American actress Jennette McCurdy as anything other than Sam Puckett. Sam was a street-smart tomboy who was Carly’s (Miranda Cosgrove) bestie and Freddie’s (Nathan Kress) primary bully-turned girlfriend. 

It’s an open secret that Jennette McCurdy partly retired from acting due to her bad experiences working with Nickelodeon, specifically Dan Schneider, but also her mom. However, what most people didn’t know is that McCurdy was being exploited by her mother and the cutthroat child star industry. There’s a reason her memoir is titled I’m Glad My Mom Died

McCurdy went into acting because her mother pushed her, not too different from how other child stars had their start in darkness. She seemingly wanted to live through her daughter’s talent as she had wanted to become an actress herself.

The late Debra McCurdy would practically force Jennette to attend auditions, guilt-tripping her to the point that the child star described her as so erratic that it felt like she was walking a tightrope every day. To make matters worse, Debra would also present her daughter by the name of the character she was auditioning for at the time, introduced her to calorie counting at age 11 and even performed vaginal and breast exams on her, never letting her shower alone. 

Jennette McCurdy and iCarly Co-Star Miranda Cosgrove

Jennette McCurdy and iCarly Co-Star Miranda Cosgrove © Charley Gallay

McCurdy found the roles she played on Nickelodeon embarrassing, but people loved her acting so much that Sam became the breakout character of iCarly. At the time, she was making enough money to be her family’s breadwinner. 

After iCarly, she also had a brief stint as a country music artist and even signed with Capitol Records Nashville. Then, in 2014, she developed some original projects, such as the four-episode web series What’s Next for Sarah, which she wrote and co-produced.

But, what people didn’t know is that once McCurdy left Nickelodeon in 2014, she was supposedly offered $300,000 in hush money for her never speaking publicly about her experiences. She declined. Since, she has spoken about the abuse she suffered on set at the hands of an individual referred to as ‘The Creator’, possibly Dan Schneider, though there’s no confirmation.

Later, McCurdy quit acting in 2017 and her site bio claimed that she was ashamed of 90% of her resume and unfulfilled. She notoriously declined participating in the 2021 iCarly reboot.

Finally, in 2021, Jennette opened up when she confirmed that she never wants to act again and her abusive stage mom triggered self-esteem issues and eating disorders. However, most recently, she seems to have found her calling as she began an ongoing podcast, Empty Inside, where McCurdy does a deep dive into uncomfortable topics, such as rejection.

Her memoir is bleak, yet in true McCurdy style, also a tragicomedy. She tells a story of breaking free from the claws of her stage mom and finding her path through podcasting and other creative ventures. She also gives a voice to grown-up child stars and explores the complicated feelings of grief, guilt and freedom once their abusive parent passes away.

 

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