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Shining a spotlight on child star abuse

Updated: Oct 24, 2022

By Diya Boyapati October 13, 2022


On Aug. 9, Jennette McCurdy published a painful yet comedic memoir, “I’m Glad My Mom Died.” In this novel, McCurdy details her hardships as a former child actor—including eating disorders, addiction and a difficult relationship with her domineering mother—and how she regained control of her life. McCurdy was a child actor on the Nickelodeon sitcom “iCarly,” where she played Sam, the main character Carly’s best friend. In her memoir, McCurdy sheds light on her experiences with abuse and child stardom, especially during her time on the show.


The main topic of McCurdy’s book was the mistreatment she endured from her mother. Since McCurdy was six, her mother dreamed of her becoming a star. In order to please her, McCurdy attended her first acting audition, and started a diet called “calorie restriction,” which involved fasting and weighing herself five times a day. McCurdy’s mother also gave her showers until she was sixteen years old while sharing all of her money, email and diary entries.


“I have not heard of McCurdy’s new book, but the mistreatment of child actors is a big problem that is not well known to the public. People automatically assume that just because someone is on TV means their life is perfect, but that is not reality. I sometimes see interviews of actors today talking about how hard it was growing up in the spotlight,” Sophomore Suhani Mehta said.

Throughout her book, McCurdy mentions that as a child actress, she was plagued with anxiety, guilt and self-hatred, which manifested as eating disorders and addiction. However, her mom was overjoyed with the fame McCurdy was accumulating. As soon as she joined Ariana Grande in the lead role of “iCarly” spinoff “Sam & Cat,” her mother passed away from cancer. However, McCurdy’s mistreatment did not end, she also opened up about her abusive experiences with Dan Schnieder, the creator of “iCarly” and “Sam & Cat.” She recalls instances where he pressured her to drink while underage and gave her unsolicited shoulder massages. Due to the trauma she faced both at home and in the workplace, McCurdy decided to rehabilitate through therapy and quit acting.


McCurdy is not the only child actor with such experiences. There have been many other cases with directors and producers like Dan Schnieder exploiting and abusing their young actors. To protest against the network’s youthful talent, Alexa Nikolas, a former cast member of the 2005-2008 Nickelodeon series “Zoey 101” recently

started a movement called “Eat Predators.”

Dana lim

In a recent demonstration, Eat Predators, assembled outside the Nickelodeon headquarters with signs. “Nickelodeon didn’t protect me,” the former actress protested.

“I was on social media and saw that the actress from ‘Zoey 101’ was protesting against people in the music industry accused of sexual misconduct and abuse. It is important to bring awareness to such issues; we need to support people who speak up about their past difficulties,” Junior Samayra Gupta said.

With expectations and pressure from everyone around them, a life of stardom can be difficult for child actors. As more former child stars like McCurdy speak out about the trauma they faced, future generations may receive better treatment.


 

About the Contributors


Diya Boyapati

Media team

Diya Boyapati is a sophomore at Leland High school and is part of the media team. During her free time she likes to play basketball, badminton, and enjoys spending time with her friends.






Dana Lim

Artist

Dana Lim is a sopohmore at Leland High School and a artist for The Charger Account. During her free time she likes to binge watch tv shows or take naps :)

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