1200 U Students Turn Out for Jennette McCurdy Event Discussing Her Memoir


Xiangyao Tang

Jennette McCurdy speaks at the Union Ballroom in the A. Ray Olpin Student Union on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, April 11, 2023. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Caelan Roberts, News Editor


More than 1,200 people piled into the Union ballroom on Tuesday to hear Jennette McCurdy, New York Times bestselling author of “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” speak. The book is a memoir that covers McCurdy’s life as a child actor, her struggles with mental health and her complex relationship with her mother.

The event, part of the University of Utah’s Wellness Week, was moderated by Romney Peterson, chair of speakers for ASUU, and Jack Clark, vice chair of speakers.

“We actually were able to get a synopsis of Jennette’s story and felt that it worked really well with mental health week this week at the University of Utah,” Clark said. He added that McCurdy’s experience aligned with the message ASUU wanted to convey to the student body during Wellness Week.

“We felt like her message of overcoming and believing in oneself and of really just conquering that aspect of life … was incredible for our message to the campus that everyone on campus has heard and we’re aware of them and we’re also rooting for them,” he said.

During the event, McCurdy offered several pieces of advice for students who may be going through something similar to what she went through, including setting healthy boundaries and not allowing oneself to be defined by trauma.

She also discussed her recovery from eating disorders and said she now views them as “a waste of life.” She became emotional as she offered advice to students in the audience still struggling with eating disorders.

“I literally wish I hadn’t wasted my life,” she said. “If you can just let that sit with you. Please. Don’t waste your life.”

In their discussion, the moderators asked McCurdy questions of their own and pre-approved questions students submitted via Instagram.

“The entire point of ASUU is it’s student-led,” Clark said. “And if we’re putting on an event for the students, we want to engage the students.” 

The topics of conversation included McCurdy’s writing process and the inspiration behind her book. Throughout the night, there was no shortage of applause or laughter from the audience.

“Jennette was a terrific speaker,” Clark said. “I felt like she was fun and energetic and very engaging. I felt like the crowd was excited to be there.”

McCurdy said that although her book is a memoir, it took a long time for her to view her life as something that could be turned into a book.

“I was very much in therapy for a long time just doing all that uncomfortable inner work for myself and to try to get to a better place in my life,” she said. “And after about six years, I just started thinking, I think there’s a way of making this entertaining. I think there’s a story here that’s worth sharing. And I think there’s something that might really connect with people.”

She added there was no real “breakthrough moment” when writing and that those moments happened “in a therapist’s chair.”

When McCurdy first decided to write the book, she didn’t find immediate success. Several publishers turned her down just because of the controversial title, one that was the “first and only choice,” she said.

“I wouldn’t have published the book if it couldn’t have been named that,” she added.

Still, the book eventually did get picked up, and she credits the fact that she believed in herself when no one else did.

“That’s the most cliche, corny thing, but I get emotional because I think it’s so true,” she said. “I think you have to believe in yourselves first.”

Since the publication of “I’m Glad My Mom Died” last August, McCurdy said that she’s been able to connect with fans in a way she never did when she was a child actress.

“I’m so glad it’s connected with so many people,” she said of the book. “The fact that I’ve been able to connect one-on-one with so many people who seem to be on their own paths of healing and parsing through their childhoods is so encouraging.”

McCurdy’s departure from acting is another topic discussed in her memoir, which she and the moderators talked about on Tuesday.

“I didn’t have any semblance of an identity,” she said. “And then it didn’t help that I became publicly recognized for this character who ultimately wasn’t me.”

Ultimately, McCurdy decided that the toll acting took on her life was “a price that I don’t want to pay,” and she eventually stopped.

“It took, I think, walking away from acting to … start to identify who I was as a person,” she said.

The next step for McCurdy in her writing career is a novel that she’s currently writing, though she couldn’t share any details about it.

At the end of the night, McCurdy offered some parting advice to students, something she hopes “desperately” didn’t come from an inspirational Instagram post but could have.

“If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no,” she said. “It gave me something to filter every decision through, and it was hugely, hugely impactful. And I use that to this day. Anytime there’s any sort of option for anything or choice or opportunity, I say, ‘Is it a hell yes?’ And if it’s not, it’s a no.”


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