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Why Hollywood Stopped Casting Jennette McCurdy

Anyone who has watched Nickelodeon in the last fifteen years is likely to be familiar with Jennette McCurdy. Although she has appeared in several TV shows in her youth such as Malcolm in the Middle and Will & Grace, McCurdy gained international fame when she played the sarcastic yet kind-hearted best friend Sam Puckett in iCarly, which aired from 2007 to 2012. That wasn't the end for Sam, however, as McCurdy would reprise the role for the spinoff Sam and Cat with future pop star Ariana Grande, who got her start as the quirky side character Cat Valentine in the Nickelodeon series Victorious and played this role on Sam and Cat.

While McCurdy has shown up in some movies and TV shows since leaving Nickelodeon, she hasn't exactly kept herself busy with them. The reasons McCurdy has not popped up in as many on-screen projects as her Sam and Cat co-star is because of her own judgment and because of other controversies that have tainted her family-friendly image. We're here to break down why Hollywood stopped casting Jennette McCurdy from her clashes with Nickelodeon to her reported paths for the future.

Racy photos of her were leaked online

Three racy photos of McCurdy were leaked online in March of 2014, which put the future of Sam and Cat in jeopardy. The culprit was supposedly NBA All-Star Andre Drummond, who dated McCurdy in 2013. Unfortunately, she broke up with him on the phone not long after. One year later, the photos were leaked and McCurdy tweeted, "To anyone disappointed: I sent those pics to 1 person. You can connect the dots. Shocked someone would stoop so low. I just speak w/ candor." When people started pointing fingers at Drummond, he tweeted, "For all the speculations about leaking anything, I have nothing to do with it. I'm focused on basketball. Thank you." In the end, the leaker's identity was never proven.

McCurdy later took to Reddit in response to the leaked photos as well as certain Instagram selfies, writing: "I post to social media when I want to and how I want to and I would whether I was in the entertainment industry or not. I don't believe people should attack me because their image of me is destroyed after I post a harmless, sultry photo. I don't believe an actor/actress should lose the rights to be themselves in an attempt to cater to the image that was created by a character they played. that's all." She also wrote, "I'm literally wearing more than most bathing suits nowadays in any 'nekkid and provocative' picture that has been seen of me." 

She's had conflict with Nickelodeon

Sam and Cat was canceled not due to leaked photos of McCurdy in skimpy underwear but rather due to her rocky relationship with Nickelodeon. Even though McCurdy received a Favorite TV Actress nomination at the 2014 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards (KCAs), she did not attend and vaguely explained because she is having issues with the channel. When rumors circulated that Grande was being paid more than McCurdy, she cleared the air on TwitLonger saying "Jennette and I agreed upfront that we would be treated equally on this show in all regards (as we should be, considering we each work just as hard as the other on this show)." Nickelodeon initially denied reports that Sam and Cat was canceled before it was officially canceled after one season three months later.

Fans began speculating that McCurdy and Grande did not get along, but the former actress debunked that theory. "I just feel that Ariana and I were and are extremely close and extremely like-minded in a lot of different ways," McCurdy told E! Online in March of 2015. "And then sort of as the show dissolved everybody wanted to find some sort of hidden meaning in our relationship and some like drama, and I think we butted heads at times but in a very sisterly way. Like she knows me so well and I know her so well that I think it was unfortunate that things got misconstrued." Hopefully, the two are still on good terms. 

She focused on a side project

After the cancellation of Sam and Cat, McCurdy wrote, co-edited, and served as an executive producer for her own show, What's Next for Sarah?, a four-part web series that premiered on Vimeo on August 13th, 2014. McCurdy played Sarah Bronson, an actress whose life begins to fall apart after a hit show she stars in is canceled. Producer Jesse Bloch told The Hollywood Reporter that the series "is influenced from experiences in Jennette's career in Hollywood" and that "Some are quite truthful and others completely exaggerated, but they're all meant to show the absurd moments of living in the spotlight of the entertainment industry that one goes through from time to time."

Many people believed that the self-absorbed character of Gloriana, a supposed acquaintance of Sarah who she talks with at a juice bar in Episode 3, is based on Ariana Grande, partially because they look similar. McCurdy never actually said if Gloriana parodies Grande but she did tell ABC Entertainment Pop in February of 2015 that this character was exaggerated for comedic effect. McCurdy also talked about her relationship with Grande: "We had coffee since this web series, we've talked. She's awesome, I wish her all the best and I know that she does the same for me." McCurdy already told the press she was on good terms with Grande one month prior to her E! Online interview, and that was probably not the last time she was asked about their friendship.

She's been dealing with personal loss

McCurdy's loss of her mother in 2013 also factors into why she took a break from acting. In 2011, The Wall Street Journal published an article from McCurdy about how her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995 and received enough treatment to put her and her family at ease. Fifteen years later, however, the cancer came back as doctors spotted it in many other parts of her body. "I can't imagine how difficult it must be for my mother to tolerate all she has gone through and continues to go through — the pain, the worry and the battle. She wakes up every day hurting and goes to sleep hurting even more," McCurdy wrote. "My mother, the constant optimist and effervescent, sprightly woman I know her to be, is caged along with this hideous beast they call cancer."

McCurdy told Vulture in 2015 that instead of mourning, she worked. "Six days after my mom died I went back to work," she said. "I thought, Oh if I do this Vine video, or If I do this episode, if I hit every mark, then I'll be fine because I'll have something else to focus on. But really I was just putting this huge life-changing event on the back burner and it was slowly causing me to unravel to the point where I would say I got to my lowest emotional point." We hope that McCurdy has found peace since this loss.

She struggled with eating disorders

McCurdy also suffered from eating disorders throughout her career. After two years of recovery maintenance, McCurdy opened up about her eating disorders in a Huffington Post article from 2019. she explained that her "disordered eating" began when she was 11 and that, as a child actress, remaining physically small for her age meant landing more roles. Unfortunately, McCurdy's late mother aided in her daughter's anorexia. "I don't hold this against my mom at all. I don't think she could help it," McCurdy wrote. "Mom had been hospitalized for anorexia on several occasions when she was a teenager and I'm not convinced she ever overcame her disordered eating." This anorexia would turn into binge eating and later bulimia.

After experiencing several "come-to-Jesus moments" such as losing a tooth and popping blood vessels in her eyes, McCurdy finally decided she needed help and met an eating disorder specialist while filming the second season of Netflix's Between. Keep in mind she already worked with a therapist a year and a half earlier but this time, she was committing. "I had several relapses during my time with Hank and several more even after I finished the program, but [my specialist] warned me about relapses and told me they were totally normal," McCurdy wrote. "The important thing was getting back on the recovery program anytime I had a slip so that, as they say in recovery, 'the slip doesn't become a slide.'" 

She's struggled with alcoholism and OCD

McCurdy explained on her podcast Empty Inside that her mother "dictated" her identity and that after her death, McCurdy felt lost and turned to alcohol. "I'd be drunk in the middle of the street in France. I was supposed to do a press junket the next day. I got completly wasted," McCurdy said to guest Annie Lederman. "I'm literally sitting on a curb and a friend of mine calls me, and he explains to me how to drop a pin, stays on the phone with me 'til I get back to my hotel in a cab 'cause he wants me to be safe and knows that I'm f***in' passing out in the rabs."

McCurdy mentioned in another episode that she struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and how it conflicted with her Mormon upbringing. "They teach you about this thing called the still small voice ...you're supposed to listen for it and it kind of guides you to do what's right," McCurdy told guest Hyram Yarbo. "I had OCD as a kid and I'd be like 'Okay, so my still small voice is telling me that I need to touch this thing ten times before I touch this other thing ten times so that I can then go to the door and open this five times because the still small voice is telling that I need to do these things or else my mom's going to die.'" At least she prevailed through these struggles.

She doesn't want to be role model

McCurdy explained in her Huffington Post article about eating disorders that she did not want to be a role model during her iCarly days. "I had also become acutely aware that I was a role model for kids, which I felt like I was supposed to find cool but actually found upsetting. My great 'contribution' to society was walking onto an overlit Nickelodeon set shouting lines about fried chicken (my character liked fried chicken) and that's what kids were looking up to?" McCurdy wrote. "Granted, we can't all be Pema Chodron, but there was something about the shallowness of my success that made me resent it. That resentment festered, providing even more fuel for my disordered eating. I actively began to engage in anorexic behavior again."

Hearing McCurdy's perspective on this issue is understandable. Rather than being a role model to kids for doing something meaningful, she is a role model to kids for acting crazy and clamoring for fried chicken. Obviously, not everyone has to be perfect, or be like Pema Chodron in this case, but McCurdy didn't want to be looked up to for playing what she sees as an obnoxious character on a children's show. Not to mention that this was all going on while McCurdy's mother was dying and she was suffering from disordered eating. All this pain makes her case for not acting anymore that much more justified.

Complicated feelings about iCarly

In December 2020, TVLine reported that an iCarly revival with most of the original cast would stream on Paramount+. One alum who is not returning, however, is McCurdy. When asked on Twitter if the actress will reprise her role for the revival, co-showrunner Jay Kogen (prior to his departure from the showresponded, "It's her call."

Eight months before this announcement, McCurdy told Elite Daily that she does look back fondly on the original iCarly. "I still have complicated feelings toward my past from my experience with Nickelodeon," said McCurdy. "It's something that I work on. I'd like to get to a place of peace with my past. That would be great." She also explained that she had to deal with other issues, such as mourning her mom and fixing her eating disorder, before she could come to terms with her past success.

On the bright side, McCurdy was happy to work with the cast and crew of iCarly. "I would not have such an enjoyable life if these people weren't in it," she said. "The human connections you have with people is always what determines whether, ultimately, something is a good or bad experience." While McCurdy is not proud of her iCarly days, these connections probably made her time on the show more tolerable. Maybe she is still spending time with the actors and crew members to this day?

She's busy with her own projects

After Between was not renewed for a third season, McCurdy decided to take a break from acting and focus on other projects. While several critics such as Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times acknowledged McCurdy as ″one of the few cast members who can act,″ her website states that she felt ashamed of many projects she acted in. "I never got the chance to be cast in a project I was proud to be part of," McCurdy told THR in 2018. "Now I have a better chance of making things I'm proud of than getting cast in things I'm proud of."

Assembling an all-female crew, McCurdy wrote and directed the short film Kenny, which was inspired by her mother's death and premiered on the Short of the Week, a YouTube channel that showcases shorts from around the world, in 2018. Other short films that McCurdy wrote and directed include The McCurdys, which is based on her childhood, and Strong Independent Women, which covers eating disorders.

McCurdy also started a podcast in 2020 called Empty Inside where she talks about many personal issues such as stage parents, rejection, dating. The guests she brings on to discuss these topics with include American Idol contestant David Archuleta, filmmaker Zane Rubin, and comedian Taylor Tomlinson. McCurdy may not act as much, but she is still doing what makes her happy.

She's not yet ready to act again

In a 2021 episode of Empty Inside, McCurdy officially announced that she will not return to acting anytime soon. "I quit a few years ago because I initially didn't want to do it," McCurdy told guest Anna Faris. "My mom put me in it when I was 6 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 elaborated that acting was difficult because of nerves during auditions and that she lost much of her interest in acting after her mom died.

The former actress also reiterated that she feels ashamed of many roles that she played. "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," said McCurdy. "My friends at 15, they're not like, 'Oh, cool, you're on this Nickelodeon show.' It was embarrassing."

McCurdy wrote and starred in a one-woman tragicomedy called I'm Glad My Mother Died, which debuted in Los Angeles on February 2020 and was put on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but she described that as a one-off performance.