- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
In her recently released memoir, I'm Glad My Mom Died, the former Nickelodeon actress opens up about the harrowing trauma she faced throughout her childhood in part due to the stifling control of her late mother, Debra.
Known for her starring comedic roles on iCarly, opposite Miranda Cosgrove, and its spinoff Sam & Cat, opposite Ariana Grande, McCurdy tells all — revealing that the comedic character she portrayed on TV couldn't be any farther from her true self.
But that's not the only facade she hid behind. She also notes that the persona she was known for throughout her youth and young adult life was a front forced upon her by her mom, who wanted nothing more than stardom for Jennette.
Despite her success on television, McCurdy previously told PEOPLE that life with her mother was far from perfect.
"My earliest memories of childhood were of heaviness, and chaos," McCurdy told PEOPLE ahead of her memoir release. In particular, "My mom's emotions were so erratic that it was like walking a tightrope every day. The mood fluctuations were daily."
Philip Cheung for The Washington Post via Getty
This overwhelming pressure of keeping up this front led the actress to suffer from eating disorders, addiction, and more. Her mother was undergoing challenges of her own at the same time; when Jennette was 2 years old, Debra was diagnosed with breast cancer. She died in 2013.
After enduring two decades worth of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her mother, the 30-year-old actress is now ready to publicly reflect on her past. Here are the major revelations revealed in Jennette's tell-all memoir, I'm Glad My Mom Died.
She was forced into acting by her mother
Frederick M Brown/Getty Jennette McCurdy and her mother Debbie
Jennette said she was forced into the life Debra wished she could've had; Jennette recalls her mom asking, "You want to be Mommy's little actress?" and says she felt she had no choice.
Debra secured auditions for her kids with Barbara Cameron, mother and manager of Growing Pains' Kirk Cameron and Full House's Candace Cameron Bure. Unlike Jennette's brother, Marcus, who impressed Barbara with his monologue, Jennette was told she "lacks charisma."
Debra, disappointed, managed to convince Barbara to accept Jennette — but only after agreeing to enroll her in a grueling acting school.
She endured childhood trauma due to her mother's control
Everett Jennette McCurdy, Nathan Kress and Miranda Cosgrove on iCarly in 2010
Forcing her into acting was just one of the many controlling situations the actress says her mother put her through. The extremity of Debra's control went as far as "wiping my butt" at eight years old, Jennette recalls in the memoir, adding that her mom said she "needs to do it until I'm at least 10."
In addition, Jennette says Debra regularly performed breast and "front butt" exams on her to check for potentially cancerous lumps and bumps. "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 noted that her mother gave her showers, too, in addition to — and at the same time as — her brother Scottie, who was almost 16. 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 developed an eating disorder at a young age
Jennette points to her mom as the root of her eating disorder and believes Debra faced one herself. And as Jennette recalls, for Debra, "The only thing worse than a cancer diagnosis is a growing-up diagnosis," so she tried to appease her by looking younger.
Doing everything to make her mom happy, she turned to calorie restriction (per Debra's suggestion). "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 writes in her memoir, adding that she began to feel rewarded for going to extremes.
She wanted to quit acting before finding fame
Prior to booking her breakout role on Nickelodeon's iCarly, Jennette recalls the anxiety-filled moment she told her mom she wanted to quit acting, immediately regretting what she had just admitted.
Jennette recalls her mom's reaction in her memoir: "'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 writes of her mother's reaction. "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."
She was allegedly 'exploited' as a teen actor
Jennette details numerous instances where she felt "exploited" as a teen actor both on and off set. The actress refers to the person behind the demands as "The Creator" throughout the memoir, never naming them.
She recalls a time while filming an episode of iCarly when "The Creator" — whom she describes in the memoir as mean-spirited, controlling, and terrifying — insisted she wear a bikini, instead of her preferred one-piece swimsuit. She feared being viewed as a "sexual being," she says.
Another time, she says, "The Creator" peer pressured her into drinking alcohol when she was underage while comparing the iCarly cast to "Victorious kids" who get "drunk all the time."
She also says she was forced by "The Creator" to have her first kiss on camera during a scene with Nathan Kress for an episode of iCarly. After the scene was filmed, "The Creator" said the kiss was "not ideal but FINE" due to her lack of "head movement."
She has maintained a healthy friendship with Miranda Cosgrove
Brian Kimsley; Karwai Tang/WireImage
Jennette reveals she has kept a solid friendship with iCarly costar Cosgrove, even long after the series wrapped in 2012. In the book, Jennette praises Cosgrove for being a kind friend during the most difficult years of her life.
She was 'pissed' at Ariana Grande while filming Sam & Cat
Nickelodeon Sam & Cat
She had a different relationship with former Sam & Cat costar Grande (who played Cat Valentine on the series). In the spinoff, which only lasted one season after its 2013 premiere, Jennette says her dynamic with the singer was fraught with jealousy and resentment.
As a pop star on the rise, Jennette recalls how Grande was always absent from set, which angered her; she claims she was always left to "hold down the fort."
"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 keep quiet about her experience at Nickelodeon
When Jennette was on a conference call with several of her agents and managers following the wrap of Sam & Cat, she says she was offered $300,000 to "never talk publicly about your experience at Nickelodeon" — particularly as it related to "The Creator".
"This feels to me like hush money," McCurdy recalls of her reaction, noting that she turned the offer down immediately. She said she did not wish to be bribed to keep quiet about unethical behavior, especially in regard to a network riddled with shows for children.
Shortly after the show wrapped, reports circulated that it ended because Jennette was "upset" her costar was getting paid more, she writes. According to Jennette, she was told "it was canceled because of a sexual harassment claim against one of our producers." (Nickelodeon did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.)
She relapsed after her mom's death but is on a journey to recovery
When her mother was on her death bed with a predicted 48 hours to live, Jennette whispered in her ear news she thought would revive her. "Mommy. I am . . . so skinny right now. I'm finally down to 89 pounds," she recalls in her memoir.
Following her mother's passing, Jennette says she relapsed, battling anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating yet again. "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.
After trying out a number of therapists, she ultimately turned to one who helped her on her road to recovery. She also praised Cosgrove for her constant support throughout her journey.
Though noting the road to recovery is a "difficult" one, she optimistically notes, "It's the kind of difficult I have pride in."
If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.
If you or someone you know is battling an eating disorder, please contact the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) at 1-800-931-2237 or go to NationalEatingDisorders.org.