LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ellen DeGeneres is excited about what her daytime show has given viewers over its nearly two decades, a mix of the silly, sometimes serious and, particularly in recent years, a respite from tough times.
She also concedes that it matters a lot who she is — a TV presenter of high appeal who is lesbian and married — but would like to see the distinction challenged.
“It shouldn’t be any different than someone who has a talk show and is a straight person. But it means something and I’m proud of it. I’m really grateful,” DeGeneres said.
Deciding it was time to end The Ellen DeGeneres Show after 19 years, she celebrates with high-profile guests before dancing off the stage during the day. Among them: Jennifer Lawrence, Mila Kunis and Bruno Mars, with Jennifer Aniston, Billie Eilish and Pink in the finals on Thursday, May 26th.
With the taping recently wrapped, DeGeneres may heed the advice of another famous ex-talk show host and her friend Oprah Winfrey, who stars in Tuesday’s episode. Winfrey suggested DeGeneres take some time off.
“Define ‘free time,'” DeGeneres said wryly. Busy with one of her passions, home remodeling, she will travel to Rwanda to visit an impressive birthday present from her actor-wife Portia de Rossi: the recently completed Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, a sprawling headquarters for the Gorilla Conservation Project named after the late scientist.
DeGeneres has signed production deals and has “ideas that I want to do,” said the actress and comedian, who has appeared in films (“Mr. Wrong,” “Finding Dory”) and television series, including her groundbreaking 1990s sitcom, Ellen years. the first network show with a gay or lesbian protagonist.
Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of media outlet GLAAD, welcomed DeGeneres’ contribution then and now.
Her legacy “rooted in being one of the most influential pioneers in the entertainment industry when it comes to LGBTQ visibility,” Ellis said in an email. DeGeneres invited viewers to “learn about and understand LGBTQ youth and transgender people, while reminding millions of people that our community still faces many challenges and inequalities.”
DeGeneres recently spoke to The Associated Press about why her Daytime Emmy-winning show worked and encountering giggling young fans, and she reflected on her impact. Comments have been edited for clarity and length.
AP: Oprah said you’ll never have a time like this, referring to your show and run as “the glory days.” How did that work for you?
DeGENERES: I’ve also had glory days in my sitcom, the last couple of which I’ve really enjoyed and enjoyed. I think you can have many glory days I hope ’cause I have. She was right in a way, that will never happen again. Then I create new ones.
AP: Did you want to make the daytime talk show something it wasn’t before?
DeGENERES: We were being ridiculous. Those moments on The Carol Burnett Show when Harvey and Tim (Korman and Conway) just lost their composure and laughed so hard, and just the silliness. And that’s what we’ve done with games, what we’ve done with other segments. We had a really great combination, we had interesting people and interesting conversations. Some people were celebrities and some people were spiritual leaders. We have also helped people in need and have done amazing things. We introduced music. It was a combination of everything. People said the show could have been on at 11:30pm at night. I’m just proud that we put so much into every single show – you’d get a little taste of everything in an hour.
AP: Is it satisfying that older and younger viewers find you and your show appealing?
DeGENERES: The other day I stopped to see if these girls were okay, their bike had hit a wall and there were three of them on the bike, which was ridiculous. And they laughed and I laughed and I said, “Are you alright?” and they said, “Are you Ellen!?!” and they were 11 or 12 years old. I have (viewers) who are grandparents who are men who are women. I’m really proud that I’ve been able to reach so many different people with my humor and personality, not a specific demographic. I hope I’m representing the pure fun because we all need a break god knows right now.
AP: When the show started in 2003, attitudes toward LGBTQ+ people and rights were different, and the issue has flared up again. Without making it clear on the show, you were a gay woman that American viewers could identify with. Was that important?
DeGENERES: It’s only when I see that there’s so much hate or discrimination out there, and I realize that every day I’m on TV, it’s just me (and) that should reach people. I’m really thankful that I became a talk show host, that I can be myself every day instead of continuing to act and playing different roles all the time. I would not have been able to explore and see myself grow as a person. And, like you said, just by being there, hopefully you’re sending a message that I’m really no different from everyone else.
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