Jennette McCurdy says she feels 'so much shame' when people connect her to 'iCarly' and 'Sam & Cat': 'My body tightens just saying them'

Jennette McCurdy says she feels 'so much shame' when people connect her to 'iCarly' and 'Sam & Cat': 'My body tightens just saying them'
  • Jennette McCurdy spoke candidly about feeling shame in the first episode of her podcast, "Hard Feelings."

  • McCurdy said that she feels deep shame around being part of the shows "iCarly" and "Sam & Cat."

  • The author said her body "tightens" in response to her saying the titles of the Nickelodeon shows.

Jennette McCurdy said she's still working through unresolved shame associated with the Nickelodeon sitcoms that she starred on more than a decade ago.

"One of the things that's really important to me in press, if possible, is that 'iCarly' or 'Sam & Cat' are not mentioned," McCurdy, 31, said on the first episode of "Hard Feelings," an original podcast from Lemonada Media that premiered on Tuesday.

"These show titles, my ears burn when I'm saying them," McCurdy explained. "I have so much shame around having been a part of them. And anybody who has read my book I know understands."

McCurdy is known to many for her role as the strong-willed character Sam Puckett on "iCarly" and its spin-off series, "Sam & Cat."

She previously opened up about struggling with her identity during that phase of her life in her 2022 New York Times best-selling memoir, "I'm Glad My Mom Died."

Jennette McCurdy speaks onstage at The Future of Audiobooks Event with Spotify 2023 on October 03, 2023 in New York City.
Jennette McCurdy speaking at a Spotify event.Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Spotify

On her podcast, McCurdy explained that it's frustrating to be associated with a character she's long left behind.

"To have been known for so long for something that I did when I was 13 was very shameful for me," she said.

McCurdy said that her shame isn't just emotional, it's physical. "My body tightens just saying them," she explained, referring to the titles of the shows.

The author said that for a long time, the success of her book covered up her shame because people were connecting with her as a person and she felt seen.

"It's so meaningful to me in such a deep way because I felt like finally, I don't have to carry that shame of my past," McCurdy said. "Finally, I can be known for something that I do as an adult. Finally, I can be known for writing, the thing that I'd wanted to do since I was a child and was not supported in wanting to do. Finally, I can be supported for me, not for a character. And it kind of washed away that shame, for me."

McCurdy thought she had moved past that feeling until she did a college tour in support of her book and an attendee at the University of California San Diego yelled about a butter sock, which was a reference to her character on "iCarly."

The interruption activated McCurdy's fight-or-flight response and she continued to be triggered not only by that memory but by the mentions of the Nickelodeon shows in a press release about her podcast.

"I thought the success of the book would be enough," McCurdy said. "When is it gonna be enough for them to forget Sam? When is it gonna be enough for them to stop associating me with the fucking shows I did when I was 13?"

Jennette McCurdy attends Time 100 Next gala in New York, October 25, 2022.
Jennette McCurdy at the Time 100 Next gala in October 2022.KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

The star said that she unpacked her response in therapy, and was floored when her therapist turned the question on her and asked what it was going to take for her to get past Sam.

McCurdy said that upon reflecting, she understands that her shame can be traced to her late mom fervently supporting the characters she played and neglecting to see her daughter for who she was as a person. McCurdy's response, for a while, was to take out that resentment on people who recognized her as Sam.

"The more popular that Sam got, the more I just felt unseen as Jennette and fundamentally, I think that was coming from not being able to see myself," she said.

McCurdy wrapped up her candid episode by saying she's willing to do whatever it takes to not be affected by references to her past acting jobs.

"I want to be past this," she said.

Correction: October 25, 2023 — An earlier version of this story misstated the timing of a Spotify event in a photo caption. The event occurred in October 2023, not November 2023.

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