Mexico City.— Jennette McCurdy knows that the title of her recent hit one-woman black comedy show, “I’m glad my mom died,” might come as a surprise to a few.
“It’s exhilarating,” the former iCarly star, who is now 29 years old, tells People.
McCurdy details the “intense” physical and emotional abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother, Debbie, who died of cancer in 2013.
“But although it may seem black and white, there is a fullness to my narrative. Life can be dark and messy. Nobody has a perfect life.”
In fact, despite her success on television with seven seasons of Nickelodeon’s iCarly and its spin-off Sam and Cat, for McCurdy, who was raised by Debbie and her father Mark, life at home was far from perfect.
“My earliest childhood memories were of heaviness and chaos,” says McCurdy, who will also share his story in upcoming memoirs. In particular, “my mother’s emotions were so erratic that it was like walking a tightrope every day. The mood swings were daily.”
As a child, McCurdy says she witnessed physical fights between her parents and recalls that Debbie’s outbursts often turned violent.
When she was 6 years old, her mother became obsessed with her only daughter. “My mom had always dreamed of being a famous actress and was obsessed with becoming a star,” says McCurdy.
So despite the fact that she was “terribly shy”, she attended auditions and began to work steadily.
“I felt like my job was to keep the peace and I wanted to make my mom happy.”
Little by little, Debbie’s concern for her daughter’s appearance went further. McCurdy was 10 years old when his mother began bleaching her hair and whitening her teeth. When McCurdy was 11 years old, Debbie introduced the young star to calorie counting. When McCurdy landed the role of Sam on iCarly, she was suffering from anorexia, which then went on to binge and then bulimia.
What’s more, until Jannette was 17, Debbie insisted on having vaginal and breast exams and never letting her daughter shower alone.
“I know that if my mother were alive, I would still have an eating disorder. It was only the distance from her that allowed me to recover,” says McCurdy, who recovered in 2018 thanks to intensive therapy.
The infant actress felt “very repressed and retarded in her development” due to her mother’s control. And so it was only after Debbie’s death that she rebelled, had sex, and experimented with alcohol for the first time.
For years, he struggled with ongoing bulimia and alcohol dependence, until finally, he made some drastic changes.
“It is a risk to change your life, but I made it my mission,” says McCurdy, leaving Hollywood behind and, for the first time, began to build a life outside of the limitations of his mother.
“I didn’t know how to find my identity without my mom. And I’m not going to lie. It was very difficult to get here. But now, I am in a place in my life that I never would have thought possible. And I finally feel free.”