Ellen Lee DeGeneres (born January 26, 1958) is a comedian, actress, writer, and TV show host. She is married to Portia De Rossi, and is notable as one of the most well-known openly lesbian celebrities.
Her initial start was in standup comedy in the early 1980s. From there, she moved into acting for both film and television.
Her self-titled sitcom Ellen, the first series in which she played a starring role, was a ratings success and made her a household name. However, her decision to publicly come out as a lesbian at the end of the show's run – at a time when homosexuality was still illegal in parts of the United States and even many in Hollywood chose to fake straight to avoid angering Moral Guardians – resulted in an immediate backlash against her from said corners and derailed her career for a few years.
Ellen recovered and eventually found her niche in daytime television, where she has hosted her well-received (again self-titled) talk show since 2003, winning multiple Emmys. She has become the unofficial successor to Oprah Winfrey, and booking a spot on her show is considered a very big deal. She also dabbled in voice acting, gaining critical praise for her role of Dory in Finding Nemo.
Since coming out, she has become one of the most prominent voices in support of LGBT rights. Naturally, this has attracted the ire of the usual suspects. When she was selected as the spokeswoman for department store chain J. C. Penney, a Conservative Christian group calling itself "One Million Moms" (actual membership around 10,000) attempted to organize a boycott against the company citing her homosexuality and activism. The protest fell apart when J. C. Penney received over two million letters and comments from individual customers – including many in the financially-lucrative LGBT community – stating they would boycott if Ellen was fired.
Ellen married her longtime girlfriend Portia de Rossi as soon as it became legal to do so in California (making hers one of the few "grandfathered in" gay marriages between the passage of anti-gay law Proposition 8 and its de facto rejection by the Supreme Court five years later).
In addition to winning multiple Emmys, she has hosted that awards show twice, the Grammys twice, and the Academy Awards twice – her Oscar hosting in 2014 containing an infamous celebrity selfie that broke Twitter (and turned out to have been a marketing stunt organized by Samsung).
Works in which DeGeneres has appeared:
- Dr. Dolittle (1998)
- Ellen (1994–98)
- Ellen's Energy Adventure (1996-2017)
- American Idol (Judge, 2009)
- The Ellen Show (2001–02)
- Finding Nemo (2003) (voice)
- The Ellen De Generes Show (2003–)
- Finding Dory (2016)
- Ellen's Game of Games (2018–)