Jennette McCurdy BELLO photographs + NAKED Magazine interview excerpts. Jennette booked a one-episode guest role on Nickelodeon’s Zoey 101. ‘Even from that one episode I started to get recognized in public.’
Two years after Zoey 101, a producer at Nickelodeon remembered Jennette and wanted to cast her in their new project, iCarly. ‘Within six months of the show airing, I couldn’t leave my house without being recognized.’
When iCarly wrapped productions, Jennette had no idea Sam & Cat would soon be in the works. She had heard that Nickelodeon wanted to develop a show for her a year before iCarly ended, but tried not to take the rumor too seriously.
‘Until you actually go and shoot something, nothing is for sure. That’s my mentality.’ When she was first approached with the idea of Sam & Cat, she didn’t like the idea of playing Sam Puckett again. ‘I did not want to play Sam anymore, I was over it. I’m sarcastic and blunt enough in real life that I wanted to do something different.’
She starts to say executive producer, Dan Schneider, convinced her her that the project would be great, but cuts herself off. “I think really I just knew he was the boss,” she laughs. Jennette was critical of the first few scripts, but eventually realized Sam & Cat had its own voice. “I’ve come to terms with it,” she jokes. It’s a good thing, too, considering a 40 episode season is a huge commitment.
But as much as she is enjoying her time playing Sam, she’s ready to try something different. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have that itch,” she says. Even just the process of auditioning for new projects excites her because she always wants to challenge herself. At the same time, she likes the comfort that comes with knowing she still has a job if she isn’t cast elsewhere. “Having your own show is a crazy thing in itself, and I’m extremely happy about that and that it’s been successful,” she says. Though there’s no word on a second season yet, Jennette feels that she and Ariana won’t be able to convincingly play teenagers for much longer. “I’m open to more episodes, but I’m planning as if they’re not happening,” she says.
While filming Sam & Cat consumes most of Jennette’s time, she does make an effort to make time for her other passions – Jennette also loves music. “In a professional way, music is on the back burner for me,” she explains. During the iCarly days, Jennette had a career as a country singer with the help of Capitol Records. She released a few EPs and a full-length record, and had some success on country radio, but ultimately the path wasn’t for her. “It sort of fell into my lap – Capitol Records heard a twang in my voice in some covers I posted,” she explains. During that time she had to move to Nashville and spend a lot of time on the road and neither of those things were for her. She missed her friends and family in California and wasn’t able to focus on acting at all.
After ending her professional relationship with Capitol Records, she also stopped posting covers because she felt that there was too much pressure for her to do music in general. Though Jennette isn’t opposed to pursuing music again in the future, she won’t unless the timing feels right. “I was really burnt out on music for a while,” Jennette admits. She continued working on songs in the comfort of her own home, and just recently began posting cover videos on YouTube again – which have been extremely well-received by fans. “I don’t want to take it too seriously though, because I feel like it’s really easy to cross the line of doing something fun in your bedroom to being stressed out about a career,” she explains.
If Sam & Cat ends after one season, she’s going to spend some time focusing on herself instead of her career. “I’m luckily in a position where if something new doesn’t come right away, I don’t need to worry about a paycheck for a little while, so I can do something I really want to do, like taking weird classes or going strange places,” she says. For seven years, she’s felt comfort in playing Sam Puckett, and for the first time in a long time she knows she may not have that security for much longer, and that’s ok for her. “Whatever happens, I’m going to embrace it,” she says as she gathers her things, ready to move onto the next big thing.