Ellen DeGeneres kicked off Season 18 of her talk show with a heartfelt, sincere, emotional and at times, self-deprecating monologue in which she addressed allegations of a toxic work environment on the set of her show.
The 62-year-old made her remarks in front of a virtual studio audience on Sept. 21. She was joined by tWitch, who previously served as the DJ on her show and is now her co-executive producer.
"I learned that things happened here that never should have happened," Ellen began. "I take that very seriously, and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected. I know that I am in a position of privilege and power and I realize that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show."
This summer, a news report surfaced in which 10 former staffers on the show and one current employee detailed upsetting experiences they said they'd had at work. Warner Bros. launched an internal investigation, and Ellen apologized to employees via video conference in August. Three of the show's producers left the program at the same time.
"We have had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about the show, our workplace and what we want for the future," Ellen said in her Sept. 20 monologue. "We have made the necessary changes, and today, we are starting a new chapter."
Ellen went on to address how she's become known in popular culture as the "Be Kind Lady." She reminded people that she started saying her tagline, "be kind" after the death of Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old university student who took his own life after facing relentless, vicious homophobic bullying.
"I thought the world needed more kindness, and it was a reminder that we all needed that, and I think we need that more than ever right now," Ellen continued.
"The truth is, I am that person that you see on TV. I am also a lot of other things. 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 because – and it's not going well because it's not happening fast enough. I will tell you that."
Ellen continued to poke fun at herself by saying it would be quite hard for her to "fool" people for 17 years by inventing a persona, even though she joked that she's proven she's a great actress by playing a straight woman.
"This is me, and my intention is to always be the best person I can be," she emphasized. "And if I've ever let someone down, if I've ever hurt their feelings, I am so sorry for that. If that's ever the case, I've 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... All I want is for every single one of them to be happy and to be proud to work here."
Ellen ended her remarks by reiterating that she wants her show to be a place of escape and happiness for people who watch it – along with those who work on it.
"This has been a horrible summer for people all around the world," she said. "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?
"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."
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