Taking responsibility. Ellen DeGeneres responded to toxic workplace claims on camera for the first time since dozens of employees alleged racism, sexual harassment and intimidation on the set of The Ellen DeGeneres Show in July.
In a five-minute monologue on the first episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show season 18 on Monday, September 21, Ellen took “responsibility” for the “toxic environment” on her talk show for the past 17 years it’s been on air. “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 that never should have happened. I take that very seriously,” she said before a virtual studio audience. “I want to say I am so sorry to the people who are 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 is The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
Ellen also told viewers that “a lot of conversations” have been had between her and her staff to make “necessary changers” for a “new chapter” at The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Ellen also responded to criticism over her “be kind” mantra and accusations that she’s a hypocrite after reports that her on-set behavior were far from kind. “The truth is, I am that person that you see on TV. I am also a lot of other things,” she said. “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 am especially working on the impatience thing and it’s not going well because it’s not happening fast enough. I will tell you that.”
Ellen came under fire in July after 10 former Ellen show employees and one current staffer alleged to BuzzFeed that they experienced racism, fear and intimidation on the set of her talk show. A couple weeks later, BuzzFeed published another report where more staffers accused executive producers on the set of the Ellen show of sexual harassment and misconduct. WarnerMedia, the company that produces the Ellen show, launched an internal investigation into the claims.
Ellen broke her silence over the allegations in letter sent to her staff in July. “On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that The Ellen DeGeneres Show would be a place of happiness – no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect,” she wrote. “Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry. Anyone who knows me knows it’s the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show.”
She continued, “I’m also learning that people who work with me and for me are speaking on my behalf and misrepresenting who I am and that has to stop. As someone who was judged and nearly lost everything for just being who I am, I truly understand and have deep compassion for those being looked at differently, or treated unfairly, not equal, or – worse – disregarded. To think that any one of you felt that way is awful to me.”