Is Ellen DeGeneres mean? A timeline from sweetheart to scandal
Ellen DeGeneres has long been considered a beloved celebrity for her friendly and funny public demeanor, but in 2020 that all could change. A string of complaints alleging discrimination and mistreatment on the The Ellen DeGeneres Show have surfaced in recent weeks.
In the beginning
DeGeneres was born January 26, 1958, in Metairie, Louisiana, to an insurance salesman and a working mother who divorced when DeGeneres was a teenager.
DeGeneres’s older brother, Vance, is an actor, comedian, and former correspondent for The Daily Show. He was always thought of as a humorous family member, but when DeGeneres found herself frightened by the crowd at a public speaking event, she used humor to get through the experience.
DeGeneres was funny enough to get a number of offers to do stand-up comedy. With her mother’s support, in 1981, she became the emcee at Clyde’s Comedy Club in New Orleans. Her big break came in 1986 when, on a tip from Jay Leno, The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson sent a booking agent to see her act at the Improv in Hollywood.
Talk show favorite
As a result of that engagement, DeGeneres appeared on The Tonight Show and became the only female comic invited to sit on the famed “couch” during her first visit.
After that DeGeneres made regular appearances on talk shows like The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Later with Greg Kinnear, Larry King Live, and Good Morning, America. She was also profiled in detail on ABC’s PrimeTime Live.
Her dry wit won over audiences, and DeGeneres snagged her own primetime sitcom — Ellen. Originally titled These Friends of Mine, the show was renamed in 1994, and evolved from an ensemble effort into a showcase for DeGeneres.
The show faced strong criticism when, in April 1997, DeGeneres’s character became the first lead in sitcom history to come out as homosexual on air. An ABC affiliate in Birmingham, Alabama refused to air the episode, and Daimler Chrysler pulled its advertising.
Made for the movies
By the time of the cancellation, DeGeneres had made the move to the big screen, with Mr. Wrong (1996), as a woman in search of the perfect man. She also appeared in the comedy EdTV (1999), starring Matthew McConaughey, and the television production of If These Walls Could Talk 2 (2000), in which she shared a much-publicized love scene with Sharon Stone.
DeGeneres is also known as the voice of Dory in the animated Finding Nemo, and was the host of three Emmy Awards shows and three Academy Awards shows.
In 2003, Ellen DeGeneres became a big hit with daytime viewers on her talk show, The Ellen Degeneres Show. Since its beginning, the show has won several awards, including a record eleven Daytime Emmys for a daytime talk show.
However, in 2020 The Ellen DeGeneres Show has taken some knocks as accusations of less-than-kind treatment have come out about its host and senior staff.
It all began when Dutch beauty YouTuber, Nikkie de Jager, aka NikkieTutorials, referred to DeGeneres as “cold and distant” during de Jager’s appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in February 2020. In April 2020, a Twitter thread asking for stories about DeGeneres being “one of the meanest people alive” received more than 2,000 responses.
In July 2020, allegations of toxic work culture at The Ellen DeGeneres Show, perpetrated by top production staff, were revealed in a Buzzfeed expose. In the article, eleven past and present employees were interviewed.
There were several anonymous accusations of racism, intimidation, unjust termination, and an overall toxic work culture – perpetuated by The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s top producers. The report prompted an in-house investigation by Telepictures’ parent WarnerMedia.
Degeneres responded to the reports with a message to her crew published in the Hollywood Reporter. In her note, DeGeneres takes responsibility, since the show bears her name, and insists steps will be taken to “correct the issues” going forward.