Although the success and fame of movies, series or red carpets make us think otherwise, being a child prodigy in Hollywood is far from a dream professionespecially when there are parents behind who only look out for their own benefit and not that of their children. This is a much more common case than we usually perceive, and this is what one of the actresses in the series has made us see icarly of Nickelodeon in a book recounting his experience after his work behind the cameras.
Is about Jennette mccurdywho played the character of Sam Puckett, the best friend of the protagonist, in this teen sitcom. The actress has published a book titled “I’m Glad My Mom Died”and although the name sounds strong, it is very descriptive of the hell that he lived due to the pressure that his mother imposed on him in order to open a gap in the entertainment industrytalking about her as a manipulative and controlling person who caused her emotional and self-esteem problems.
McCurdy exemplifies it referring to a casting test where things did not go as well as I would have liked. His instructions required her to cry, but at that moment his mind could not address the sadness that he really carried inside and he could not play the part as he had been told.
“I am sitting in the waiting room gathering all my sadness when something changes in me. He feels strange”McCurdy wrote in his book about this audition in a fragment collected by entertainment weekly. “This has never happened before, but it is happening now and it is scaring me. A part of me resists my mind imposing this emotional trauma on itself. Part of me says, ‘No. It’s too painful. I’m not going to do this”continuous. “That part of me is dumb. That part of me doesn’t realize that this is my special ability, that it’s good for me, for my family, for mom.”.
At that moment, she felt that she did not want to continue acting, that being an actress required situations that she did not feel capable of coping with. But her mother, hell-bent on taking her daughter to stardom, stood in the way of her decision. According to her words, after the failed casting test they had an argument in the car on the way home. She tried to make her see how she felt about her and that the world of acting was not for her, but, far from being understanding, his mother exploded with a non-peaceful attitude.
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“She hits the steering wheel and accidentally honks her horn. Mascara runs down her cheeks. She’s hysterical, like I was at the ‘Hollywood Homicide’ audition. Her hysteria scares me and demands that I take care of myself ”McCurdy wrote. And the situation affected her to such an extent that, the day after they confirmed her signing for icarly, she was glad for a very different reason than one might expect. While his mother celebrated getting the part, McCurdy did so because he believed that this would end the torture, that his mother would calm down seeing that he had finally achieved it.
But the matter did not end there, because it says that the pressure generated eating disorders and addictions that lasted over the years and worsened in 2013, when his mother died of cancer. In previous interviews, such as one given to People in 2021, she said that she did not feel fully recovered until 2018, after undergoing intense therapy.
In said intervention, she was not at all benevolent with her mother, pointing out that since she was little she had always experienced “heaviness and chaos”that it was common to witness continual physical fights between their parents and that his unhealthy obsession with making her a star went beyond acceptable limits, bleaching her hair, whitening her teeth and insisting on controlling her calories. “My mom’s emotions were so erratic it was like walking a tightrope every day. Mood fluctuations were daily.”affirmed.
Without a doubt, a tough story that even led to McCurdy not having acted since his recovery in 2018. But like hers, there have been many similar cases that make us realize the dark side that may exist behind childhood fame. For example, it is well known to all the case of Macaulay Culkinthe star of Home alone whose father – who is also an actor – controlled every detail of his career to the point of forcing him to spend nights awake learning scripts or even falling into physical abuse, as he told in an interview with Marc Maron’s WTF podcast in 2018.
Culkin has claimed in the past that he felt his father was jealous, because “everything he tried to do in his life i did it before he was 10 years old” (Don). The actor even took his parents to court to stop them from controlling his trust fund.
A similar story is that of wheatoninterpreter of Count on me and of Star Trek: The Next Generation whose parents were abusive towards him. The actor himself denounced him in the HBO Max documentary, the kids of hollywoodas well as on his website in an article titled “Yes, I was forced to be a child star. It was never my dream or my idea” and interviews with media such as Access Hollywood. As he recounts, her parents’ ambition to bring him fame and high pay resulted in years of going from audition to audition under terrifying pressure and a tense, toxic family environment.
“He stole my childhood, so he could feel popular”He claimed about his mother that she tirelessly insisted on his acting career, being his manager even when he didn’t want to. “To be honest, I’m relieved that she’s embarrassed and maybe even a little embarrassed, because at least that means that somewhere in her alcoholic brain, she knows what she did to me. She knows that she endured all of this, in silence and alone, all my life. And when I couldn’t take it anymore, when I tried as hard as I could to work this all out with her and my dad, all they had was excuses, diversions, accusations, and absolutely no interest in participating in my recovery.”concluded the actor, who refocused his professional career on fields such as poker competitions and the management of internet communities.
“Acting was something forced on me. I have very clear memories of saying over and over again ‘I don’t want to do this, let me be a child.’ parents – which all children unconditionally deserve – I have to do what mom says. And maybe then, somehow my dad will love me “ he said in the interview.
Another more recent case may be ariel winteractress known for her role as Alex Dunphy in Modern Family who from a very young age began to act in films such as kiss kiss bang bang or lend his voice to children’s tapes like Bambi 2 either Ice Age: The thaw. Like the iCarly actress, she denounced that the performance was always an imposition of his mother and that he dealt with abuse and labor exploitation. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she said that he put her on a strict diet, that he controlled her wardrobe, and that she always insisted on sexualizing her appearance. “People thought I was 24 when I was 12. If there was going to be a nude scene when I was that age, my mom would have said yes a thousand percent.”affirmed.
In the end, as much as we have been able to enjoy their work on screen, listening to these stories leaves a devastating feeling, because basically they are victims of parents who live fame at the cost of destroying their children’s childhood. And although working in movies and series gives them notoriety and can open many doors for them in the future, it is well known that all these child prodigies have hardly been able to get ahead in the industry. And not for lack of talent, but for a mental health incapable of assuming the abuses and pressure of a traumatic childhood. And if we add to that how hard the world of Hollywood is and the need to adapt to new challenges, in the end it is clear that the only beneficiaries here are parents who only look out for their own benefit and not for the well-being of their children. . Which is certainly hard to accept.