They starred together on Sam & Cat for one season.
Jennette McCurdy opened up again about how “hellish” her acting career was. The former Nickelodeon star, who’s known for playing the witty Sam Puckett on iCarly and Sam & Cat, retired from acting in March 2021 to prioritize her mental health. Now, McCurdy’s releasing a memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died, where she shared her experience as a child actor, including one moment on the set of Sam & Cat that “broke her.”
In a candid profile for The New York Times, McCurdy teased the memoir, which drops on Aug. 9. As The New York Times’ Dave Itzkoff wrote, McCurdy was offered a spinoff to iCarly after it ended in late 2012 and “assumed she’d be given her own show.” Instead, she was asked to co-star in Sam & Cat with Ariana Grande, who reprised her role as the bubbly Cat Valentine from Victorious. Sam & Cat briefly aired from 2013 to 2014.
During her time on the series, McCurdy alleged that Nickelodeon prevented her from accepting other pursuits outside of Sam & Cat. Meanwhile, Grande was allegedly given the opportunity to pursue outside projects.
“What finally undid me was when Ariana came whistle-toning in with excitement because she had spent the previous evening playing charades at Tom Hanks’ house,” McCurdy wrote in the memoir, per The New York Times. “That was the moment I broke.”
McCurdy also recently spoke about this moment with The Washington Post, where she said that she tried her hand as a country music singer but hated it. According to The Washington Post, McCurdy also turned down offers to star in her own feature films that conflicted with scheduling on Sam & Cat. She was also allegedly promised to direct an episode of the spinoff series, but that never went through.
(According to The New York Times and The Washington Post, a representative for Nickelodeon declined to comment.)
McCurdy added to The Washington Post that she didn’t have resentment for Grande and her music career. At the time, there were already rumors swirling that a feud was happening between the two behind the scenes; however, they’ve both denied the rumors. After Sam & Cat was axed, McCurdy told Entertainment Tonight in 2015 that she and Grande “texted each other frequently.”
In both The New York Times and The Washington Post stories, McCurdy also alleged that Nickelodeon offered her a $300,000 check to keep her from speaking publicly about her time at the network, but she said she turned down the offer. McCurdy’s memoir reportedly notes that she felt this proposal was “hush money” and didn’t want to be silenced.
“The way I see it now is, that decision came from self-righteousness,” she told The Washington Post. “Should I have taken that money? I'm glad I didn't because I'm able to talk about it, and I don't have to have that secret haunt me.”
Both outlets also reported that the iCarly alum detailed in her memoir the tumultuous and abusive relationship she had with her late mother, Debra McCurdy, and how her mother pushed her into acting. In a February 24 episode of her podcast, Empty Inside, McCurdy said that becoming an actor was never her true dream. She told Anna Faris, a featured guest on the episode, she took on acting to support her family financially.
“I quit a few years ago because I initially didn't want to do it,” McCurdy said in the podcast. “My mom put me in it when I was 6 and by sort of age ... 10 or 11, I was the main financial support for my family.”
Now that McCurdy has found other creative ventures, such as writing and directing, it’s encouraging to see her doing what she truly loves.