Jennette McCurdy was sitting in her booster seat when she learned she was cast in iCarly.
The actress describes the moment she got the news in her upcoming autobiography I'm Glad My Mom Died, in which she transports readers to the cramped backseat of her mother's Ford Windstar. At the time, she was 14 years old and her mother, Debbie McCurdy, who died of cancer in 2013, was asking for an extension on their phone bill.
"Mom weeps her way through an extension, but by the time she hangs up with Brandon at Sprint PCS, her tears are dry. While she dials Susan, she thrusts her hand back behind her and toward me," Jennette writes in an excerpt published by Entertainment Weekly. "I have to lunge forward as far as I can to grip her hand, and since the seat belt is pulled through the booster seat, the length of the belt is shortened so it locks sooner. The second I lean forward to grab Mom's hand, the belt makes the clicking sound of it locking. I'm trying to reach her hand but I can't. Click, click, click."
After Jennette hears the news that she's booked her first-ever series regular role, she and her mother celebrate in a parking lot. But Jenette's description of their celebration is a bittersweet one, revealing that she's more concerned about her mother's feelings than her own. "I'm elated," the actress writes. "Everything's going to be different now. Everything's going to be better. Mom will finally be happy. Her dream has come true."
Jennette says it's her mother's dream because she didn't even want to be an actress in the first place. She writes in a separate excerpt published by Entertainment Weekly that she previously told her mother she didn't want to act because it wasn't enjoyable.
This is partly because Jennette was auditioning for roles that required her to explore dark thoughts that would help her cry on cue. "A part of me is resisting my mind forcing this emotional trauma on itself," she explains. "A part of me is saying, 'No. It's too painful. I'm not doing this.'"
Jennette understands that "what I want and what I need deserves to be listened to," so she tells her mother that she wants to quit acting. But her mother's reaction is visceral.
"Mom looks at me in the rearview mirror," she writes. "A mixture of shock and disappointment fills her eyes. I immediately regret saying anything."
After her mother breaks into a fit, Jennette realizes she has no choice. "She bangs on the steering wheel, accidentally hitting the horn. Mascara trickles down her cheeks," Jennette recalls. "Her hysteria frightens me and demands to be taken care of."
Jennette continues, "'Never mind,' I say loudly so Mom can hear it through her sobs. Her crying stops immediately, except for one leftover sniffle, but as soon as that sniffle is over, it's complete silence. I'm not the only one who can cry on cue."
The actress officially quit acting in 2017 and declined the opportunity to reprise her role as Sam Puckett in the Paramount+ reboot of iCarly. And while her co-stars miss her, Miranda Cosgrove understands why Jennette made her decision. "I do think for sure that being in acting at a young age isn't easy," Miranda told E! News. "I mean, having an adult's job when you're a child is a hard thing to do. I totally understand her perspective, 100 percent."