Though walking away from the career that brought her immense fame was for the best, McCurdy recently revealed that she was heavily discouraged from quitting the profession despite it no longer being enjoyable for her.
Jennette McCurdy says her Nickelodeon roles caused her to be unsure of her own identity
During a recent episode of her Empty Inside podcast, McCurdy opened up about her far from enjoyable experience during the height of her Nickelodeon fame.
The actor rose to prominence in the late 2000s starring as Sam Puckett on the hit Nick series iCarly. After six seasons on the air, the show signed off in 2012.
A year later, McCurdy reprised her role on the show Sam & Cat opposite Ariana Grande.
Though both shows made many people’s childhoods and brought McCurdy immense fame and fortune, she says being a teen star wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
“I was a famous 19-year-old and making a bunch of money, and I felt like I had everything at my fingertips,” McCurdy said in the latest episode of her podcast. “But I was deeply unhappy, and I actually really resented my life because I didn’t like the projects that I was a part of.”
She continued, “It’s a difficult thing to say because the shows that I was on were so loved by so many people and so many kids, and I hear constantly, ‘You made my childhood,’ And I think that’s great that they had that experience. But that just was not my experience, and I felt a lot of shame—that I wasn’t able to identify at the time—because I didn’t like waltzing onto an over-lit, cheesy set and shouting a line. It felt so pointless and shallow.”
Walking away from acting was difficult for Jennette McCurdy
Though everyone knew her as the tough and unfiltered Sam Puckett, McCurdy couldn’t have been further from the character in real life, which caused her to be unsure of who she really was.
“To be known globally for this thing that’s not really me, it was just like, ‘What the f*ck am I doing?'” she said. “How do I even find myself when I’m 19, and I’ve been famous for all the years that I would normally be stumbling through finding myself, yet I’m known as a thing that I’m not. It just was—’hellish,’ I think, is not too intense of a word.”
After McCurdy’s mom died of breast cancer in 2013, she decided to walk away from acting for good, which the people around her vehemently discouraged her from doing.
“I made up my mind to leave this career that my agents and my managers and everybody I know is telling me I’d be crazy to leave. ‘How can you walk away from this? Are you kidding, do you have any idea how many people want [what] you have?'” McCurdy recalled. “But it didn’t matter because I didn’t want it—it just wasn’t true to me.”
Jennette McCurdy is no longer ‘living a lie’
Though building up the courage to leave a career that brought her financial security was challenging, the actor knew that walking away was ultimately for the best.
“It was something that I needed to do for my mental health and for my overall peace,” she continued. “And it was difficult. I didn’t know what to do with myself when I didn’t have things that always dictated my identity around anymore.”
Once she quit acting and started pursuing other career fields like directing and podcasting, McCurdy finally felt free to live the life she wanted.
“I’m living a life that’s in accordance with who I am,” she said, adding, “and that feels a million times better.”