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This Former Child Star Quit Acting Because She Was "Embarrassed" by Her Roles

Jennette McCurdy starred on the Nickelodeon shows iCarly and Sam & Cat.

Former child stars who quit acting once they get older each have their own reasons for it, whether that be disinterest in performing, a tough transition to adult roles, or simply wanting to pursue something else. Others didn't much enjoy being child actors in the first place. As for one Nickelodeon star, iCarly's Jennette McCurdy, she stopped acting because she was "embarrassed" by the roles she was playing.

McCurdy came to fame in 2007 when she began playing Sam Puckett on the kid-focused series, though she had appeared in movies and taken on many guest-starring roles before that. She remained on the series until 2012, then, in 2013, began starring the spinoff Sam & Cat, alongside Ariana Grande. That show ran until 2014.

McCurdy has been candid about how she feels about the shows that made her famous, even writing an upcoming book about the perils of child stardom. Read on to find out why the now-30-year-old is so "ashamed" of her early career and to find out what she's doing now.

READ THIS NEXT: Former Child Actor "Was in Danger" on Movie Set, Co-Star Admits.

She resents her career.

Jennette McCurdy and Ariana Grande at the 2011 Divine Design Gala
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

McCurdy's most recent credited roles were in 2018, when she was in the movie Little [expletive] and the short film The First Lady. In February 2021, she shared on her podcast, Empty Inside, that she had decided to retire from acting and explained that it had to do with the roles she was famous for.

"My experience with acting is, I'm so ashamed of the parts I've done in the past," she said during a conversation with Anna Faris (via E! News). "I resent my career in a lot of ways. I feel so unfulfilled by the roles that I played and felt like it was the most cheesy, embarrassing. I did the shows that I was on from like 13 to 21, and by 15, I was already embarrassed. My friends at 15, they're not like, 'Oh, cool, you're on this Nickelodeon show.' It was embarrassing. And I imagine there's a very different experience to be had with acting if you're proud of your roles, and if you feel fulfilled by them."

Her family situation also contributed to her unhappiness.

Jennette McCurdy at the premiere of "The To Do List" in 2013
Jaguar PS / Shutterstock

McCurdy also explained that she wasn't ever that interested in acting in the first place, but that she was pushed into it by her mother.

"I quit a few years ago because I initially didn't want to do it," she explained. "My mom put me in it when I was six and by sort of age, I guess, 10 or 11, I was the main financial support for my family. My family didn't have a lot of money, and this was the way out, which I actually think was helpful in driving me to some degree of success."

McCurdy's mother died of cancer in 2013, at which point McCurdy reevaluated her options. "…I ultimately quit after my mom passed away because with her death kind of died a lot of her ideas for my life, and that was its own journey, and a difficult one for sure," she said.

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She starred in a one-woman show.

Jennette McCurdy at the premiere of "Damsel" in 2018
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

McCurdy has performed again post-retirement but only in her one-woman show, titled I'm Glad My Mom Died. She said on her podcast that the show would probably be her only return to acting. "I did it just for that show, but I think that one-woman show would be the most of it," she said.

In the play, McCurdy opens up about being abused physically and emotionally by her mother and suffering from eating disorders.

"My mom had always dreamt of being a famous actor and she became obsessed with making me a star," she told People in 2021. "I felt like my job was to keep the peace. And I wanted to make my mom happy."

She's a writer, director, and podcast host.

Jennette McCurdy at the Tyler Ellis 5th Anniversary Party and Tyler Ellis x Petra Flannery Collection Launch in 2017
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

On McCurdy's podcast, she sits down for conversations with guests—often others from the entertainment industry—and focuses on one topic per episode, for example "perseverance," "self-doubt," and "authenticity."

In addition to hosting Empty Inside, McCurdy has also been focusing on writing and directing.

"Despite her outside success, McCurdy felt ashamed of 90% of her resume and ultimately unfulfilled, so she turned to alcohol, but since that didn't work, she quit acting and began pursuing writing/directing in 2017," her website reads. "She has written/directed a pilot and four short films."

She has a book about her experience coming out soon.

The cover of Jennette McCurdy's book "I'm Glad My Mom Died"
Simon & Schuster

McCurdy also wrote an upcoming book, with the same controversial title as her one-woman show, which will be released Aug. 9.

"It was important for me to explore the emotional and psychological abuse I endured during my time as a young performer," she told Entertainment Weekly of the book. "I feel I didn't have the tools, language, or support necessary to speak up for myself back then, so this book is a way for me to not only honor that experience and give voice to my former self, but hopefully to encourage young people to speak up for themselves in environments where they may be conditioned to just 'play ball' and 'be a good sport.' (Sorry for the sports idioms, I've never played sports so I have no idea why they're spilling out of me.)"

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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