As one of America’s most popular entertainers and talk-show hosts, Ellen DeGeneres has enjoyed a varied career.
Popular, bubbly, witty, engaging and highly relatable, Ellen boasts traits that ensure she’s likely to be a fixture on our screens for a long time to come.
Life before fame
Born in Louisiana in 1958, Ellen’s early ambitions to become a vet were thwarted when she realised she wasn’t academic enough. Early jobs included waitressing, selling vacuum cleaners and painting houses.
After a scary public speaking experience, Ellen used wit to calm her nerves, which went down well with audiences. Soon after, she decided to get into stand-up comedy, earning her first big gig in 1986 on The Tonight Show. Further appearances followed, and Ellen fast began to make a name for herself on TV screens.
After winning audiences over, Ellen starred in her own sitcom show starting in 1994, entitled Ellen. A pivotal moment for the show occurred in 1997, when Ellen’s character came out as being gay on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Although the show sparked criticism and suffered a backlash from sponsors, it gained positive acclaim from gay rights activists.
Eventually, by 1998, the plug was pulled on the show.
Undeterred by this move, Ellen went on to find success appearing in a string of movies, including Mr Wrong and The Love Letter. She also voiced Dory in his Disney films, Finding Nemo and Finding Dory.
Ellen’s wit and warm personality have also made her sought-after to present a number of awards events, including the Grammys and the Academy Awards.
After being thrust back into the spotlight in 2003, she was offered a role to present her own daytime talk-show, Ellen. It became an instant hit, with Ellen’s warm and fun personality winning over audiences. Her easy-going and empathetic nature also made her a firm favourite with celebrity guests, many of whom became firm friends.
Over the years, Ellen has interviewed a bevy of famous names, including Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Aniston, and her good pal, Oprah Winfrey.
Her sunny and generous disposition is also evident on the show, when she connects with the audience through singing and dancing, as well as frequently giving away free prizes. Regularly inviting people to star in the audience, once she even flew in her old classmates to celebrate a 30-year reunion.
With average viewing figures of 3.2 million and yearly profits of $20 million, it’s easy to see how Ellen’s show has since gone on to win a number of accolades.
Multi-talented Ellen also starred as a judge on American Idol and has written a collection of books. She owns her own record label – the first artist she signed was an up-and-coming YouTuber. Ellen also has a lifestyle brand that sells fashion and accessory items, as well as products for babies and pets.
Using her position of fame and wealth to promote a number of interests close to her heart, as a staunch vegan, Ellen actively promotes many animal rights campaigns, including supporting elephants and gorillas in the wild.
As a key figure in promoting gay rights, she is seen as a huge role model in the LGBT community.
In 2016, Ellen received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution to supporting the arts. She has also won several awards for her work and charitable endeavours. As an all-round entertainer, successful career woman and charismatic personality, it’s no wonder that Ellen DeGeneres is regarded as such a popular role model.
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