Former Child Star Says She Was Offered Money to Keep Quiet About On-Set Behavior
Nickelodeon alum Jennette McCurdy declined to accept what she called "hush money."
From 2007 to 2014, Jennette McCurdy was a major star on the Nickelodeon network. She broke out on the series iCarly as the main character's best friend, then moved on to her own spinoff, Sam & Cat, with Ariana Grande. Now, the former child performer is 30 years old, has quit the acting career she never wanted to begin with, and has been opening up about the dark times she experienced at the height of her fame, including physical and emotional abuse from her mother and multiple eating disorders.
In a new interview with The Washington Post about her newly released memoir, McCurdy went into more detail about her experience at Nickelodeon, including troubling behavior by adults on set and the "hush money" she claims she was offered never to talk about it publicly. Read on to find out what the former actor says she witnessed.
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McCurdy worked for Nickelodeon for seven years.
McCurdy began starring on iCarly in 2007 when she was 15 years old. She remained on the show until 2012, and then led one season of Sam & Cat from 2013 to 2014.
According to The Washington Post, in her new book, I'm Glad My Mom Died, McCurdy writes about working at Nickelodeon and observing the creator of both shows, Dan Schneider, acting inappropriately.
"I wanted some laughter around that," she told The Washington Post of simply calling Schneider "The Creator" in her book, "specifically because I know there's so much tension there."
Her book includes accusations about Schneider.
In her memoir, McCurdy claims that Schneider gave her an unsolicited shoulder massage and pressured her to drink some of his alcohol-spiked coffee when she was 18. She also calls him "mean-spirited, controlling, and terrifying."
Schneider stopped working with Nickelodeon in 2018. In 2021, The New York Times reported that Schneider had been investigated by Nickelodeon's parent company, ViacomCBS, and the investigation found that "many people he worked with viewed him as verbally abusive," but evidence of sexual misconduct. Schneider told the New York Times that he didn't act inappropriately with co-workers, and regarding online claims that some of the comedy in his shows was sexualizing young stars or showed evidence of a foot fetish, he said, "The comedy was totally innocent."
McCurdy says Schneider was exiled on the set.
In her book, McCurdy claims that "The Creator" was eventually not allowed to be on set with actors and stayed in a "cave-like room to the side of the sound stage, surrounded by piles of cold cuts, his favorite snack, and Kids' Choice Awards blimps, his most cherished life accomplishment."
"My heart starts beating fast. It makes me angry," McCurdy told The Washington Post of talking her former boss. "But it's important to talk about. It was so commonplace, his behavior, and it was so accepted because everyone was scared of losing their job. I don't blame any of them. I get it. But it was really unfortunate, everything that happened in a children's television series environment. It really seems like there's not much of a moral compass there."
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She claims she was offered money to keep quiet.
McCurdy writes that after Sam & Cat ended, she was told Nickelodeon would give her $300,000 as a "thank-you gift" if she agreed to not talk about her experience with the network and specifically with Schneider. She said it felt like "hush money" and that she turned it down immediately.
"The way I see it now is, that decision came from self-righteousness," she said in the interview. "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."
Best Life has reached out to Nickelodeon and to representatives for Schneider for comment but has not yet received a response.
McCurdy is in a better place now.
McCurdy has been through a lot, and she's candid about it all in I'm Glad My Mom Died, which is named after her one-woman show and references her mother's death from cancer in 2013. In recent years, McCurdy told The Washington Post, she has gone to therapy to heal from her childhood with her abusive mother and to work on recovering from her eating disorders.
"There's no active form of dysfunction in my life at all," she said. "I'm in a good place, which is such a weird thing to say. I feel more fulfilled than I ever have, and I wish it wasn't new, but it is very new for me."