Ellen DeGeneres is finally speaking out after months of relative silence on allegations of toxic workplace environments, coronavirus-related pay disputes, and off-brand cruelty. As promised, on Monday, September 21, the longtime host kicked off The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s 18th season with an apology of sorts and a lot of attempted humor. The only thing missing was the dancing.
“If you’re watching because you love me, thank you,” she said to those of us at home and her virtual audience. “If you’re watching because you don’t, welcome! How was everyone’s summer? Mine was great…super terrific.
“As you may have heard, this summer there were allegations of a toxic work environment at our show and then there was an investigation. I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected,” DeGeneres continued. “I know that I’m in a position of privilege and power, and I realized that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show. This is The Ellen DeGeneres Show, I am Ellen DeGeneres. My name is there, my name is there, my name is on underwear. We have had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about the show, our workplace, and what we want for the future. We have made the necessary changes and today we are starting a new chapter.”
Considering staff changes have already been highly publicized, it makes sense that DeGeneres swiftly moved on to the more personal accusations. “There were also articles in the press and on social media that said that I am not who I appeared to be on TV, because I became known as the ‘be kind’ lady,” DeGeneres explained, pointing out that she began using the slogan “be kind to one another” after feeling the world needed that message. “I think we need it more than ever right now,” she added.
However, she said that being known as the “be kind” lady is “a tricky position” to hold. “Let me give you some advice out there if anybody’s thinking of changing their title or giving yourself a nickname. Do not go with the ‘be kind’ lady. Don’t do it,” she said. “The truth is, I am that person that you see on TV.”
She continued, “Sometimes I get sad, I get mad, I get anxious, I get frustrated, I get impatient. And I am working on all of that. I am a work in progress, and I’m especially working on the impatience thing, and it’s not going well because it’s not happening fast enough.” The virtual audience laughed at this joke.
DeGeneres then reminded viewers that prior to her time as a host, she was an accomplished actor, but not good enough to “fool” her audience for 17 years. “This is me and my intention is to always be the best person I can be. And if I’ve ever let someone down, if I’ve ever hurt their feelings, I am so sorry for that,” she said.
She continued, “If that’s ever the case, I have let myself down and I’ve hurt myself as well, because I always try to grow as a person. I look at everything that comes into my life as an opportunity to learn. I got into this business to make people laugh and feel good, that’s my favorite thing to do. That, and Jenga. I love that game.”
She ended her speech with, “Now, I am a boss of 270 people. Two hundred and seventy people who help make this show what it is. Two hundred and seventy people who I am so grateful for. All I want is for every single one of them to be happy and to be proud to work here. This has been a horrible summer for people all around the world. People are losing their jobs, people are losing loved ones to a pandemic, people are losing their homes and lives in raging fires that are going on. There’s blatant racial injustice all around us. I watch the news and I feel like, Where do we even begin?”
DeGeneres added, “So my hope is that we can still be a place of happiness and joy. I still want to be the one hour a day that people can go to escape and laugh. I want to continue to help all the people that we help every day. And I’m committed to making this the best season that we have ever had.”
Watch her full statement, above.
Originally Appeared on Glamour