‘I felt like she was talking to me’: Jennette McCurdy makes Miami the first college stop on her tour


A queue wrapped around the entire third floor of the Armstrong Student Center on Thursday night as students waited to see the actress, director and best-selling author jennette mccurdy during a question and answer (Q&A) panel.

Though known for her role as Sam Puckett on Nickelodeon’s “iCarly” and “Sam and Cat,” McCurdy is now distancing herself from the theater industry. In August, she released her memoir, “I’m Glad My Mom Died.”

The novel saw nothing less than successas it sparked conversations about abusive parents, eating disorders, child exploitation and substance abuse around the world.

The panel, which was hosted by Miami Activities and Programming (MAP), began at 9:00 p.m. The event sold out; tickets disappeared as soon as they went on sale Wednesday morning. Steve Large, assistant vice president of health and wellness at Miami, led the Q&A.

“I’m so glad to be here with all of you tonight, and I’m so glad it’s packed, because let me tell you, Jennette McCurdy is an amazing human being,” Large said.

Large then provided the audience with a content warning about the sensitive topics the panel would involve. He also noted that counselors were also available at the event for students to speak with. Large read McCurdy’s biography before presenting it to the crowd.

As soon as McCurdy entered the room, the audience erupted into thunderous applause. She and Large shared a hug once McCurdy took the stage. Large informed the public that Miami is the first university that McCurdy will speak at as part of his round.

From Miami, McCurdy told the audience, “It’s beautiful here. It’s so beautiful. You’re lucky to be here, I’m sure you feel that.

The first question from the panel was about McCurdy’s abusive mother, Debra. Large asked McCurdy if she remembered ever seeing or hearing other people talk about their abusive parents like she was.

“No,” McCurdy replied. “Part of that was why it was such an important message to share because I felt there was such a need to keep parents on a pedestal. there was more to the story, but wouldn’t delve into it.

She went on to say that when people recognize their parents’ abusive behavior, they often try to dismiss it. McCurdy did it herself, as she tried to justify and excuse her mother’s treatment of her.

McCurdy’s process of reconciling this belief was a long one. His first therapist suggested that McCurdy’s mother was abusive in a session, which led McCurdy to stop therapy.

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“I thought, well, I don’t want my mom to be abusive,” McCurdy said. “No thank you. And it took me a while – over a year, I would say – before I could dip my toe back in the water of therapy and even consider seeing her again, because understanding that my mother was abusive meant reorienting all my people.

After her mother’s death in 2013, McCurdy continued to do the things Debra had wanted for her life. McCurdy felt compelled to do so, as she believed her mother knew better than her.

Once she started therapy again, McCurdy began successfully acknowledging uncomfortable topics about her mother. She realized she had to take control of her own life and identity.

“I mentioned earlier to Steve, I was like, if we start talking about therapy, I’m going to be a nerd,” McCurdy said. “It’s going to take all the time; you will have to [reel] me.

When asked what made her want to try therapy again, McCurdy said there was one piece of information that struck her. She refrained from revealing the information, as she did not want to spoil the book for the public.

“I’ll never know who my mother really was,” McCurdy said. “But I can know who I really am. I’m going back to therapy, and that’s what really got me back out the door.

The topic moved on to McCurdy’s eating disorder, as she previously suffered from anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. She now considers herself fully recovered and says she has a great relationship with food.

The panel returned to McCurdy’s mother, whom McCurdy admitted he sometimes misses. She said she’s grateful for her life now, but she knows it’s only possible because her mother is dead.

Now she surrounds herself with good people, and McCurdy told the audience she hopes they do the same.

McCurdy answered a few more questions submitted by audience members ahead of the panel. The questions were selected by MAP and asked by members of the organization.

After the event, the students were eager to share their thoughts on how McCurdy’s words and experiences made them feel.

Shelby Ayers, an anthropology major, was thrilled to attend the panel and felt moved by McCurdy’s words. She thinks that McCurdy overcoming her trauma is a hero story.

“I felt like she was talking to me,” Ayers said. “I feel like a lot of people can resonate with that in the crowd…I felt like I was seen. It was as if we were talking as friends.

Ayers is currently reading McCurdy’s memoir and says she enjoys it. She is part of MAP and said MAP members were able to get copies of the book signed by McCurdy.

Not only did McCurdy’s panel resonate with students, but he also gave them more insight into the therapy. Leah Disantis and Ryan Jeansone, both freshmen, said they learned a lot about mental health resources.

“It gave me a lot more information about therapy and other things than I thought it would,” Disantis said. “I thought it was interesting to see how [McCurdy] was able to grow from going to [therapy].”

Disantis thought it was interesting to hear about McCurdy’s experiences that most people didn’t know about until his memoir was published.

“I learned a lot more about therapy that I didn’t really know, and also about Miami resources with that and how [therapy] assistance [McCurdy]. I might like, think about it now,” Jeansone said.

Jeansone and Disantis were both Nickelodeon fans growing up, which prompted them to attend the panel. However, they both left wanting to read McCurdy’s book afterwards.

The panel was made possible by MAP’s Director of Arts and Entertainment, Eva Cole. Margaux Harding, who is part of MAP, explained that Cole works with booking agents in order to contact and negotiate with artists.

Harding said the process was long. Contracts must be reviewed by the artist’s team and Miami. The panel had been in the works for a few months, but wasn’t announced until three days before it was due to happen.

“Trust [your] instincts,” McCurdy told the audience as parting advice. “If there’s something that you know, like, you have a vision for something, you just have to stay true to that and know what to fight for in that vision.”


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