Is Ellen DeGeneres failing at her own #BeKind mantra?
Following reports by BuzzFeed, there’s a bit of a tsunami building around Ellen DeGeneres – the story is that Ellen’s success has come at the cost of creating a toxic workplace culture in the production company that produces the show.
BuzzFeed spoke to one current and 10 former employees on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, all of whom asked to remain anonymous, fearing retribution. They said they were fired after taking medical leave or bereavement days to attend family funerals. One employee, who claims she was fed up with comments about her race, walked off the job. Others said they were also instructed by their direct managers to not speak to DeGeneres if they saw her around the office.
Most of the former employees blamed executive producers and other senior managers for the day-to-day toxicity, but one former employee said that, ultimately, it’s Ellen’s name on the show and she really needs to take more responsibility for the workplace environment.
Stories about Ellen maybe not being the nicest person and that her show isn’t the greatest place to work have been circulating for years. But the BuzzFeed reporting has brought everything into focus and brought forward a whole raft of new stories and allegations.
Unsurprisingly, we’ve seen a lot of celebrities bravely step forward and confirm that Ellen has always been very nice to them. Groundbreaking. We’ve even seen Portia make it clear that she “stands with” Ellen. Portia, she’s your wife – we kind of assumed that Ellen could count on your support but now it reads like a hostage statement.
We’re huge fans of Ellen. She’s an incredibly talented comedian and television host. There’s been speculation about who could replace Ellen, but that’s superfluous – you can’t replace Ellen. You could have a different host and it would be a different show, but Ellen is a tower of unique talent and that’s not something that can be replicated.
No one is expecting Ellen to be a saint – no doubt she can be mean and rude, we all can. Plus, most of the allegations that are emerging are focused on managers within her production company, but aren’t levelled at Ellen herself. What’s disappointing is that Ellen doesn’t seem to have addressed the allegations at all. Apart from celebrities rushing to her side, there’s just been a lot of silence. If multiple people that are working for you are raising allegations about racism, workplace bullying, and sexual harassment, the very least you should be doing is acknowledging the issues being raised and committing to take them seriously so you can find out what’s going on, right?
Back to you in the studio.
The Ellen DeGeneres story
Born in 1958, DeGeneres was born in Louisiana. When her mother re-married, the family moved to Texas.
DeGeneres went to college in New Orleans, where she majored in Communication Studies, but she dropped out of college and began working a variety of different jobs.
After college, while she was working in New Orleans, DeGeneres began to try her hand at stand-up comedy. By 1981, she had progressed to become the emcee of a local comedy club and from there began to tour the national comedy circuit.
In the 1990s, DeGeneres moved into television – playing supporting roles in a number of sitcoms, before landing her own series. Simply called ‘Ellen’, the sitcom launched in 1994.
In 2003, DeGeneres launched her talk-show. It is the talk-show that has made her an international celebrity and one of the most influential people in the world of entertainment.
In 1997, during the fourth season of Ellen, DeGeneres spoke publicly for the first time about her sexuality. This coming-out process was mirrored on the sitcom where the character of Ellen also came out as a lesbian.
DeGeneres has since spoken about how her decision to talk about her sexuality impacted her career and made it difficult for her to work for a number of years.
After a number of high-profile relationships, DeGeneres began dating actress Portia de Rossi in 2004. The couple were married in 2008 – almost immediately after the state of California enacted marriage equality legislation.
The couple tied the knot on 17 August, 2008 at their Los Angeles home.