The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

New York Times bestselling author and former actress Jennette McCurdy speaks at VPB speaker event

McCurdy discussed her experience with acting, abuse and mental health resources.
Heather+Lefkowitz+and+Jennette+McCurdy+discuss+McCurdy%E2%80%99s+inspirations+in+Langford+Auditorium%2C+as+photographed+on+Dec.+6%2C+2022.+%28Hustler+Multimedia%2FMiguel+Beristain%29
Miguel Beristain
Heather Lefkowitz and Jennette McCurdy discuss McCurdy’s inspirations in Langford Auditorium, as photographed on Dec. 6, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Miguel Beristain)

Editor’s Note: This piece contains mentions of disordered eating. 

Author, director and former actress Jennette McCurdy spoke in Langford Auditorium on Dec. 6. Moderated by Heather Lefkowitz, professor in the Department of Human and Organizational Development, the event consisted of discussions surrounding McCurdy’s inspirations, experience in the acting industry and life after her mother’s death. 

The former Nickelodeon star released her memoir, “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” in August, which discusses her experience as a child actress and her difficult relationship with her abusive mother who died in 2013. Additionally, McCurdy writes about a strained relationship with a producer while working for Nickelodeon described only as “The Creator” and her brief stint as a country music hopeful. The book is divided into two sections, “Before” and “After,” representing the events of her life before and after the death of her mother. She produced a one-woman show of the same name in 2020. 

Vanderbilt Programming Board sponsored the event, which was free for all Vanderbilt students, faculty and staff; tickets sold for $25 to the general public. Over 800 people attended the event, and tickets for the event sold out in one hour, according to senior and VPB Speakers Co-Chair Lauren Maresca.

According to Maresca, VPB Speakers Committee members pitch various speakers and then vote on which speakers they think would be best to bring to campus based on personal preference, appeal to the community and speaking experience. McCurdy is also traveling the country on a college tour which moved her higher up on the list. 

 “We chose [McCurdy] because of the buzz her book has been receiving, and we thought students would be familiar with her from watching her on TV as a kid,” Maresca said in a message to The Hustler. “She has a great track record speaking at other schools, and we thought her ability to shed light on important topics like mental health would be a great message for Vanderbilt students.” 

Lefkowitz began the event by asking about her memoir’s title. McCurdy explained that while the title, “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” may seem vulgar to the naked eye, it is true. McCurdy explained that her mother was abusive. She said she forced her to enter into auditions starting at six years old; beginning at age 11, her mother forced her to restrict her food intake, resulting in an eating disorder. 

“I would not have named it that if I could not back it up,” McCurdy said. 

The chat continued with Lefkowitz pulling various quotes from the book to discuss and McCurdy diving deep into her ongoing experience with therapy. She later went through two years of Dialectical Behavior Therapy to overcome her disordered eating. McCurdy explained how she did not realize that her eating habits were problematic until overhearing a conversation between a doctor and her mother.

“The doctor told my mom to ‘keep an eye out’ on my eating habits,” McCurdy said. “I didn’t understand because my mom was doing this to me. She was the one telling me to restrict my calories.” 

Although she started her role as Sam on iCarly at 15, acting was never McCurdy’s passion. She explained how she always loved to read and write, but her mother wanted her to act because she never got that opportunity herself. She described how her mother disapproved of her natural interests.

“My mom used to say writers get fat and wear cable knit sweaters,” McCurdy said. 

Throughout the event, McCurdy pointed out audience reactions and even asked everyone to shout out hobbies they picked up during the pandemic. Ultimately, McCurdy explained how she felt called to write a memoir to share the unknown stories that happened at the end of her mother’s life. 

To end the night, Lefkowitz asked McCurdy what her departing piece of advice was for the students in attendance. McCurdy explained how continuing to do something with which one is not completely happy is detrimental. 

“It doesn’t get better just by sticking it out,” McCurdy said. “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.” 

Sophomore Diana Zamarripa shared that she was very excited to hear McCurdy speak, as she did not expect someone so well-known like McCurdy to come to campus. Zamarripa also explained that the content of the event resonated as finals and the end of the semester approaches. 

“Something that really resonated with me was the last piece of advice she [gave],” Zamarripa said. “This really connected with me and a lot of other students because especially during finals, we begin to overthink what’s worth it and what we should be focusing our energy on.” 

Sophomore Briley Porter agreed that they resonated with the last piece of advice. 

“It was very insightful and exciting to see a person who I look up to so much speak in person,” Porter said. “Her advice definitely resonated with me because of all of the hard decisions I have made in the past year.” 

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About the Contributors
Jorie Fawcett, Editor-in-Chief
Jorie Fawcett ('25) is from Tiffin, Ohio, and studies secondary education and sociology in Peabody College. She previously served as Managing Editor and Life Editor. When not writing for The Hustler, you can find her teaching, reading or pretending to study at Local Java or Suzie's. You can reach her at [email protected].
Miguel Beristain, Senior Staff Photographer
Miguel Beristain (’24) is a philosophy and cellular and molecular biology double major in the College of Arts and Science from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. When not shooting for The Hustler, he can usually be found playing Magic the Gathering, exploring new restaurants or practicing guitar. He can be reached at .
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