Keeping it real. Ellen DeGeneres candidly spoke about the moment she hit “rock bottom” in a cover story interview for Out magazine’s annual Out 100 issue.
The host, 58, recalled coming out as a lesbian in 1997 on The Oprah Winfrey Show and how it took a toll on her both personally and professionally. Around the same time, she opened up about being gay in a cover story for Time magazine as well.
“I was the punch line of lots of jokes. I laughed at some, but I realized there’s somebody on the other side of them. It’s cruel,” DeGeneres told Out. “I’ve never liked mean comedy, but that became even more important to me after I was the brunt of it.”
Prior to revealing her sexual identity, the comedian starred on her own hit sitcom, Ellen, from 1994 until the show was canceled in 1998, just one year after she came out. (DeGeneres’ character also came out on the show.) After ABC pulled the plug on Ellen, the TV star thought for a moment that her career was kaput.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to work again, and although I was out, I was still trying to alter myself — not dressing the way I wanted to dress or wearing my hair the way I wanted to,” the Funny Thing Is… author — who married wife Portia de Rossi in 2008 — explained to the LGBT publication. “I slowly gained the confidence to be authentic, and what I’ve learned about other people is that they strive to be authentic, too. So whether they fully support me, love my lifestyle, or love that I’m married to a woman.”
Overcoming those struggles, DeGeneres landed her daytime TV gig in 2003. Her insanely successful talk show has gone on to win multiple Daytime Emmy Awards. Reflecting on her journey, the Finding Dory voice actress feels grateful that she was able to bounce back.
“Time is a strange thing. I was at rock bottom and out of money, with no work in sight, but one step at a time, it gets better,” she said. “It gets much better than better.”
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