Greyson Chance Called Working With Ellen DeGeneres As A Child "Horrible": "I Was 100 Percent Faking It, And I Feel Like She Was Too"

·5 min read

If you were on the internet in 2010, you may remember Greyson Chance as the 12-year-old singer who rose to fame seemingly overnight after his cover of Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" at his school's talent show. Chance uploaded the video of his performance to YouTube, and it quickly went viral — today, it holds over 71 million views.

Greyson Chance in 2010 and now
Greyson Chance / Jason Kempin / Getty Images

Here's the video:

A few weeks later, Chance was invited by Ellen DeGeneres to perform on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. He made a second appearance on the show in May 2010, where DeGeneres announced she was signing Chance to her new record label, eleveneleven.

Ellen talking to Greyson Chance on her show

Ellen ended in May 2022 following allegations of a toxic work environment and abusive behavior behind the scenes.

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Today, 25-year-old Chance continues to make music under Sony Music Global and Arista Records — his most recent album, Palladium, came out Thursday. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Chance opened up about his experience working under DeGeneres, who he described as "controlling" and "insanely manipulative."

Greyson Chance at an event
Chelsea Guglielmino / FilmMagic / Getty Images

"This is the first time I've been honest about her, and this is the last time I want to talk about it," Chance told Rolling Stone. "I’ve never met someone more manipulative, more self-centered, and more blatantly opportunistic than her."

closeup of Ellen DeGeneres smiling
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Chance compared working under DeGeneres as a child to having a "hidden eye" over his career. He said she would control everything, including what he wore — for example, she allegedly forbade him from wearing leather because it went against her beliefs as a vegan. "My whole week, my whole month, my whole year could change [with] one text message from her," Chance said. "That was horrible. If she had an opinion of any sort, the whole thing changed. ... She would come in and look at a rack, yell at stylists, berate people in front of me and say, 'This is what you’re wearing on the show.'"

Greyson Chance singing into a mic
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Chance explained that DeGeneres wanted him to basically follow in the career footsteps of Justin Bieber, who he was often compared to. He recalled an incident where the TV show host became angry with him for not watching an advanced copy of Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never documentary, then called his mother to berate her over it.

Justin Bieber on the red carpet

"I'll never forget this," Chance said of the phone call. "I just remember hearing on the other side of the phone, just yelling [and] beratement: 'What type of mother are you? Do you realize that I went out of my way to get this for you, and he can’t sit down and watch it?'"

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In 2012, Chance's music and ticket sales began to underperform, and the record label dropped him, along with his publicist and management team. Then, Chance said, DeGeneres "completely abandoned" him. "I couldn’t get ahold of her. I couldn’t talk to her," he said. "Whenever I would come on the show, it was such a fake smile. She wouldn’t even ask, 'How are you doing? How are you holding up?' It was just like, 'Here’s what we’re going to talk about. We’ll see you on there.'"

He briefly quit music to attend college, a decision he described as his way of giving a

He briefly quit music to attend college, a decision he described as his way of giving a "middle finger to the industry." He returned to his career with the album Portraits in 2019 after finding joy in making his own music again.

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Chance appeared on Ellen later in 2019 for a music performance and interview. He said DeGeneres did nothing to address the lack of communication on her end. "She came out during soundcheck and she looked at me, hugged me," he recalled. "And she said, 'How have you been?' And that just killed me inside because I was like, 'What do you mean how have I f*cking been? Where have you been?'"

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Warner Bros.

During the 2019 interview, DeGeneres praised Chance for having come out as gay two years prior. However, the singer didn't find her to be sincere and felt she was trying to take credit for his journey. "She had nothing to do with that. … [When I came out,] I hadn’t spoken to her in years," he said. "That’s so messed up, that you’re now showing the world as if we’re so tight. We’re so good. And behind the scenes, you are this insanely manipulative person."

Greyson and Ellen talking on her show with his Instagram post and rainbow colors on a screen in the background

"When I look at the interviews and I look at my eyes, I can see so much anxiety," Chance added. "I can just see so much PTSD because I’m there holding on for dear life going, 'I need this TV gig.' I was 100 percent faking it, and [I felt like] she was 100 percent faking it with me, too."

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Here's the interview for context:

Chance was invited back to Ellen earlier in 2022, but declined. He does, however, maintain a relationship with Lady Gaga, whom he says "has been there for [him] in the ways that Ellen never was."

Lady Gaga at an event

Ellen asked Chance to come back two more times after he initially turned them down.

Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

Ultimately, Chance said that, although he got his start under DeGeneres, he doesn't owe his overall career success to her. "The first part of my career, I owe a lot of thanks to her and to that team," he said. "But the reason why I’m here today talking about an album, I owe f*cking nothing to her. Because I was the one that had to pull myself up. She was nowhere to be found."

Greyson Chance looking out of a window

The singer posted on his Instagram account Thursday: "I’ve been wanting to tell this story for a long time, and was repeatedly told not to. Writing this album forced me to look dead in the eyes of my past, and reconcile with everything I went through as a kid. I feel a tremendous weight off of my shoulders now that the truth is out."

Jason Kempin / Getty Images

You can read the full interview with Chance here.