Jennette McCurdy is opening up about the abuse she says she endured from her mom throughout her childhood.
The iCarly alum, who confirmed her retirement from acting in 2017, spoke to People about her one-woman show, I'm Glad My Mom Died, which, as she explained, explores the "intense" physical and emotional abuse she endured at the hands of her mother, Debbie McCurdy, who died of cancer in 2013.
"It's thought-provoking," the 29-year-old actress said to the outlet about the dark comedy. "But even though it may seem black and white, there's a fullness to my narrative. Life can be dark—and messy. Nobody has a perfect life." The former actress, who has since switched careers paths to venture into writing and directing, debuted her one-woman show in Los Angeles in February 2020.
"My earliest memories of childhood were of heaviness, and chaos," McCurdy, who is also set to share her story in an upcoming memoir, told People. "My mom's emotions were so erratic that it was like walking a tightrope every day. The mood fluctuations were daily." McCurdy's father did not respond to People's request for comment.
McCurdy went on to explain that she felt pressure from her mom to become a star from a very young age. "My mom had always dreamt of being a famous actor and she became obsessed with making me a star," she said. And although McCurdy says she was "cripplingly shy," she went on auditions and began building her résumé of roles. "I felt like my job was to keep the peace," she added. "And I wanted to make my mom happy."
The star, who starred as Sam Puckett in the Nickelodeon show, iCarly, for six seasons until 2012, also opened up about her childhood earlier this year during an episode of her podcast, Empty Inside.
Of walking away from her acting career, she explained during the early March episode, "I quit a few years ago because I initially didn't want to do it. My mom put me in it when I was 6 and by sort of age, I guess, 10 or 11, I was the main financial support for my family. My family didn't have a lot of money, and this was the way out, which I actually think was helpful in driving me to some degree of success." McCurdy added that acting was "always, always, always" difficult for her.
The podcast host also revealed in her recent interview with People that she was 10 years old when her mom began bleaching the young actress' hair and whitening her teeth. She also said that when she was 11, her mom introduced her to calorie counting.
McCurdy, who has been open about her past struggles with eating disorders, also told the outlet that by the time she landed the role of Sam on iCarly, she was already suffering from anorexia—which later developed into binge eating and then bulimia. She also told the publication that until she turned 17 years old, which is when she was already three years into her starring role on the hit show, her mom insisted on performing "vaginal and breast exams" and never let her daughter shower alone.
"I know if my mom were alive, I'd still have an eating disorder," she said. "It was only distance from her that allowed me to get healthy."
After revealing that at one point, she felt "repressed and delayed developmentally" due to her mom's control, McCurdy explained that she's on a mission to rebuild her life and identity again.
"I did not know how to find my identity without my mom," she said. "And I'm not going to lie. It was very hard to get here. But now, I'm at a place in my life that I never would have thought was possible. And I finally feel free."