Is Ellen Degeneres mean? This bombshell report says it’s not just her
We’ve been sharing the stories people have been telling about their experiences not only working for Ellen DeGeneres but also those who’ve met her over the years and were fans at one point. But it turns out the “be kind” mantra Ellen promotes is far from her personal attitude.
In a report from Buzzfeed News, 11 employees of The Ellen DeGeneres Show (10 former and 1 current) all came forward with their own “Ellen DeGeneres is mean” stories. But it turns out it’s not just her, but the entire workforce on the talk show that has an attitude problem.
It’s far from just Ellen
Sure, it’s clear based on the stories that Ellen DeGeneres does have a mean streak. But this new report shines a light on the entire culture of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and how “be kind” is just for show.
Stories from set put a large part of the blame not only on Ellen, but senior and executive producers. While Ellen should be stepping up and more involved in day-to-day operations, the producers who are in charge of those daily operations need to do better to improve the work environment.
In the Buzzfeed News article, executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly, and Andy Lassner responded to the allegations with concern.
“Over the course of nearly two decades, 3,000 episodes, and employing over 1000 staff members, we have strived to create an open, safe, and inclusive work environment,” the producers said. “We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience. It’s not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us.”
“For the record, the day to day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us. We take all of this very seriously and we realize, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better.”
Racism running wild
One of the most daunting claims is from a black woman who worked on The Ellen Show. The former employee claims that during her year and a half with the show, she was dealing with a variety of racist comments, actions, and microaggressions from other employees.
This attitude allegedly started the minute she was hired, as a senior producer told her and another black woman who was working on the show, “Oh wow, you both have box braids; I hope we don’t get you confused.” From there, it only got worse. At a Christmas party, another employee said “I’m sorry, I only know the names of the white people who work here.”
Even when the employee would bring up diversity issues and try to help make the show more inclusive, she was called the “PC police” by her fellow employees. After her year and a half, the employee alleges a meeting between her and Ed Glavin, where she was reprimanded for her requests for diversity and inclusivity training, a raise, and objecting to language used on the show.
After that meeting, the employee left work and never went back to The Ellen Show. Her experiences were so bad, she refuses to work in the entertainment industry again, and is instead working to fight against racism and discrimination in Hollywood.
No cares about mental health
Even in the first Variety report, current employees were alleging that the production company was cutting salaries and not reaching out and checking in with employees about their mental health. But this new report alleges that an employee who left on medical leave for mental health treatment lost her job when she came back.
The former employee says they had taken a month off from The Ellen Show because of a suicide attempt, and were going into an in-patient treatment program for their issues. When they came back, their position had been eliminated.
The employee went further into the mental health culture on set as well. “Some of the producers talk openly in public about addiction and mental health awareness, but they’re the reason there’s a stigma. They definitely don’t practice what they preach with the ‘be kind’ mantra.”
Another employee claims they were fired after having to take leave three separate times in a year due to a car accident and two funerals. Even to get time off each time was a battle with HR.
The haves vs the have nots
A large part of the negative culture comes down to a battle between those who will buy into the stigma on set vs those who know the set is toxic and won’t tolerate it. Former employees allege that oftentimes, those who were inexperienced in the industry or people who were hypnotized by Ellen on screen stuck by and defended the producers no matter what.
“They hire people who maybe are inexperienced with how a functional, nontoxic work environment actually is, or someone who just wants to be in that atmosphere so bad that they’ll put up with it,” claimed one former employee.
Those who were willing to put up with the environment and did what they were told with little rebellion were rewarded with leftover prizes from sponsors, like new iPhones, gift cards, and other swag. They also were the ones who were well-liked by producers and more likely to get raises and promotions.
Those who spoke out against the attitudes of the producers and Ellen on the other hand were the ones who didn’t get their contracts renewed. “And there’s this ushering out the door. Or your contract isn’t renewed the minute you ruffle anyone’s feathers.” noted another employee. “Or you don’t show that you’re extremely grateful and appreciative to work there.”
Why does everyone focus on Ellen?
The most surprising statement to come out of the report was how Ellen DeGeneres being mean isn’t the problem with the show. While she’s far from nice, she’s not the one people have to interact with on a daily basis. On the other hand, the producers in charge are the ones who people in the Buzzfeed News article have the most problems with.
“People focus on rumors about how Ellen is mean and everything like that, but that’s not the problem.” stated one employee. “The issue is these three executive producers running the show who are in charge of all these people [and] who make the culture and are putting out this feeling of bullying and being mean.”
Even when people were fired, it was never addressed. New faces would come in, and old ones would disappear, but it didn’t mean anything to the producers. “They feel that everybody who works at The Ellen Show is lucky to work there — ‘So if you have a problem, you should leave because we’ll hire someone else because everybody wants to work here.”
Allegedly by the current employee interviewed, head producers actually reached out to the crew after claims of a lack of communication to address the controversy online. Specifically on May 1st, the same day the former bodyguard of Ellen’s spoke out.
Whether or not that Zoom call led to changes on set, we don’t know. All we can hope is that the producers took the stories they’ve been hearing to heart and if The Ellen Show is toxic, they work to try and fix the attitude on set they’re bringing.