Courtesy of @jenettemccurdy on Instagram

Jennette McCurdy, known to many as Sam Puckett in the Nickelodeon sitcoms “iCarly” and “Sam & Cat” has found her new path in life — writing. Being an author was what she always dreamed of as a child, but she was stifled by her mother, Debra McCurdy, who serves as a big topic in McCurdy’s memoir “I’m Glad My Mom Died.” 

On May 29, the Associated Students Program Board presented “In Conversation with Jennette McCurdy” as part of their Cultural Arts series to discuss her widely beloved book. 

The memoir, which sold out in its first 24 hours and has held its place as a New York Times Bestseller for 85 weeks, covers McCurdy’s life as a child actress surrounded by a toxic home and work environment. “I’m Glad My Mom Died” is a book about resilience, and recounts deeply traumatic occurrences in a refreshingly comedic light. 

Melvin Ventura, Associated Students Program Board’s (ASPB) cultural events coordinator, served as the moderator for the event, introducing McCurdy before sitting down for discussion. As she walked onto the stage, she paused to chat with an audience member who was holding up a sign, a rather sweet interaction that set the tone for the rest of the event. 

McCurdy spoke with Ventura about her process of writing the book, emulating the same lightheartedness found in her novel. When asked if she had any anxieties surrounding the publication of the book, she quipped, “There was definitely anxiety, but I think that’s just a bigger issue of my life,” a reply that generated laughter from the crowd, signaling relatability.

For decades, McCurdy was associated with many as a girl who was brash and wild; in reality, her demeanor is much more tender. She was incredibly humble, complimenting Ventura and the audience members numerous times; using words such as “sweet,” “kind” and “validating.” Ironically, these adjectives can also be used to describe McCurdy, whose warm energy draws the audience in as she spoke. She received applause numerous times throughout the event, nothing short of a surprise, as she gave refreshing insight on the topics of self-growth and trauma. 

For McCurdy, one of the biggest things she stresses is the value of a good support system. The people she now surrounds herself with have helped her through publishing her book and reentering the world of fame. 

“​​I am so happy that I found a sense of community, and I think it came from doing what I love and following what I love. I think that’s where community comes from. Not to get too “soap opera-y,” but I think that’s the best way to find the people that are your people,” McCurdy said.

Unfortunately, McCurdy was not as lucky to have a support group whilst working as a child actress, resulting in personal turmoil hidden behind closed doors for decades. In “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” she worked to give her child self a voice she never had in the past. 

“I really wanted to service my younger self; being a kid I didn’t feel that I had a voice and it was really stifled by the people around me. I didn’t know how to articulate a thought or articulate that I didn’t have a voice,” she recalled. “So one of my main intentions of the book was to give that younger self a voice and say the things that she’d always wanted to say and couldn’t.” 

With no healthy way to cope with the trauma, McCurdy developed an eating disorder and alcoholism; something she no longer struggles with, but worked for years in therapy to overcome — which also served as the first place for inspiration to write a memoir. 

“It took a good four years in therapy before I was like ‘Oh, I think there’s an element of this that’s kind of funny, and I think there’s an element to this that has an arc to it, that’s kind of a story.’ I was by no means in therapy like ‘This is a memoir!’” McCurdy joked. 

After the moderated conversation, a few members of the audience were granted a question to the author. It was here that McCurdy confirmed the scream from her party popper video, celebrating 80 weeks on the NYT Bestseller list, was real. 

Before McCurdy departed, she left the crowd with heartfelt last words: “I just have such a soft spot for your age, I know how much I was struggling at that age and I know how important that age is. Don’t let people change your voice, if you’re in anything creative or artistic your voice is so important,” she stated. “Just trusting that and feeding that is so much more important than changing it for somebody else’s idea of what your voice can be.” 

This parting statement earned McCurdy a standing ovation as she walked off the stage, stopping to take the aforementioned sign before disappearing to the back of Campbell Hall. 

The soft spot McCurdy claims to have for young adults was evident in her interactions with the moderator and the crowd. Despite her hardships, she is grateful for her past, as it led her to where she is now. Through resilience and time, things do get better, even though it may be difficult to remember in the moment. McCurdy and her book “I’m Glad My Mom Died” serve as proof of that.