Now that her talk show is ending, Ellen DeGeneres is addressing the controversy last year about fostering a toxic workplace for her employees.
In an interview with the TODAY show, DeGeneres discussed the backlash she experienced. Firstly, DeGeneres said she wasn’t ending the show due to the controversy. But the backlash weighed on her mind during the off-time between seasons.
“If it was why I was quitting, I would have not come back this year,” she told the outlet. “I really did think about not coming back, because it was devastating. It started with attacks on me and attacking everything that I stand for and believe in and built my career around … I am a kind person. I am a person who likes to make people happy.”
“As you said, everything in television is down. It’s got nothing to do with why I’m leaving. If I was having fun, I would do this show with nobody watching. So it’s got nothing to do with that.”
DeGeneres claims she only learned about the allegations like everyone else, through the media. Several former and current employees accused DeGeneres and the show’s producers of toxic behavior. But the talk show host said she was unaware of problems on her set.
“I don’t know how I could have known when there are 225 employees here and there are a lot of different buildings,” she said. “Unless I actually stayed here until that last person goes home at night. It’s my name on the show, so clearly it affects me, and I have to be the one to stand up and say this can’t be tolerated.”
Ellen DeGeneres Said She Feels Hurt
On a personal level, DeGeneres said the allegations affected her on an emotional level. She said the backlash brought back memories from the 1990s. After she came out as gay in 1997, DeGeneres’s sitcom ended up being canceled. She compared her current situation to that time period. She also confessed that she discussed the issue in therapy.
“My therapist is like, very few people go through such huge public humiliation twice in a lifetime,” she said. “How can I be an example of strength and perseverance and power if I give up and run away? So it really is one of the reasons I came back. I worked really hard on myself.”
DeGeneres said she believes that the controversy happened because she’s a woman hosting a talk show. She doesn’t believe she would have received the same backlash if she was a man.
“And also I have to say — if nobody else was saying it — it was really interesting because I’m a woman, and it did feel very misogynistic,” DeGeneres said. “No, I’m not bulletproof. And no, I don’t have thick skin. I’m extremely sensitive to the point of it’s not healthy how sensitive I am.”