‘The more authentic I can be, the better’: Jennette McCurdy speaks at PPC lecture


Romita Das | Senior Staff Photographer

Jennette McCurdy speaks to a crowd of Pitt students gathered in the WPU Assembly Room during “An Evening With Jennette McCurdy” hosted by the Pitt Program Council on Thursday evening.

By Toni Jackson, Staff Writer

For many people of this generation, the Nickelodeon sitcom “iCarly,” which ran from 2007-2012, defined much of their childhood. Erin Lancaster, a sophomore psychology major, said her love for the show as a child is what interested her in the event.

“I’m a big fan of ‘iCarly’ and I was like, ‘When will I ever meet a childhood star that I love,’” Lancaster said.

Pitt Program Council (PPC) hosted “An Evening with Jennette McCurdy” on Thursday night. The event focused on her debut memoir “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” a New York Times Bestseller that came out in August of this year. The audience included many people who read the book and loved it, as well as those who haven’t read it but who left with a great desire to do so.  

The cover of the book ties into the title 一 McCurdy sports a smile while holding a hot pink urn. The title and the cover seems shocking, but the book details the abuse McCurdy suffered at the hands of her mom, her struggles as a child actor starting at the age of six years old, her battle with an eating disorder and more. 

During the event, McCurdy said the book has changed people’s perception of her from a one-dimensional Nickelodeon star to an honest and insightful author that many can identify with. 

“When I used to be recognized, it was people shouting from cars ‘Sam! Where’s the fried chicken?’” McCurdy said. “Now, with the book, it’s completely different. There’s humanity there. I don’t feel like an object. There’s an immediate connection every single time someone approaches me. They’ll hug me, sometimes they’re crying.”

Like the book, McCurdy’s statements during the event alternated between comedic and insightful. 

At the beginning of the event, McCurdy shared that she had an interest in writing from a young age, but her mother disapproved, so McCurdy sidelined it. When her mother got cancer for the second time when McCurdy was 18, she began to take writing classes to reconnect with her love of writing.

While “iCarly” fans filled the room, people connected more with McCurdy’s literary side. Questions from the audience ranged from advice on dealing with narcissistic parents, to what album she believes describes the book. McCurdy said the album that most relates to her book is “The Best of Hall and Oates,” by Darryl Hall and John Oates. 

Lydon Pelletier, PPC’s public relations director, said students were enthusiastic about the event since they announced the event two weeks ago.

“We announced [the event] at the Brittany Broski lecture, which was really exciting 一 the whole room went, ‘Oh my God!’ and stood up. We posted it later that night and tickets sold out the next morning in 20 to 30 minutes, which was amazing … It’s exciting to see that people are really excited about the event,” Pelletier said. 

Students lined up in the William Pitt Union hours before the start of McCurdy’s lecture to ensure they would get a seat.

Lancaster said she waited hours outside the PPC office to receive tickets for the event a few weeks prior. The day of the event, she waited in line for hours so that she could sit in the front row, and she said it was well worth the wait.

“I really liked what she said about trust and trusting people 一 that if you say something honest to someone and it’s not well reciprocated, then you should let that relationship go,” Lancaster said. “Everything she said about relationships and having boundaries was amazing… [the event] exceeded my expectations. I didn’t think I would be in the front row – I waited for hours to do that and I’m happy I did because I really enjoyed it.”

Annabeth Collis, PPC’s lecture director, moderated the event. She said she and lecture committee members drafted questions that were appealing and engaging to the audience. These questions were followed by a Q&A session for ten students to ask any other questions to McCurdy. 

“I read Jennette’s book over the summer, took notes on it, and loved the book. It really resonated with me and my committee members…A lot of my prep work has just been reviewing the questions, putting them together and making sure I’ve done my research in terms of other interviews,” Collis said.  

In October, McCurdy signed a two-book, seven-figure deal with Ballantine, a subsidiary of Penguin Random House. McCurdy detailed during the event that she eventually hopes to write a collection of essays, but for the immediate future wishes to write a fiction book. While this will be the first fiction book McCurdy publishes, she stated she always intended for her memoir to read like a novel and is excited for the next chapter of her career. 

“Performing didn’t come naturally to me…I hadn’t performed in so long that by the time I was doing the one person show, I would be dry-heaving on the street,” McCurdy said. “Writing 一 I don’t have anxiety. It’s amazing. Maybe that’s why I love writing…It came when it was meant to come.”