"People need to have all kinds of examples and heroes on television who stand for something." (Ellen DeGeneres)


Ellen DeGeneres was born on January 26th, 1958 in Metairie, Louisiana. Growing up, Ellen wanted to be a veterinarian however she gave up this dream because she did not think she was smart enough. Ellen began waitressing, painting houses, selling vacuum cleaners, and working as a secretary. By age twenty-three Ellen started doing stand up comedy and discovered that her humor could help her through any experience in front of a large crowd.
DeGeneres' "big break" would come in 1986 when The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson sent a booking agent to watch Ellen at The Improv in Hollywood. Ellen was then invited on The Tonight Show and was the only female comedian to be invited by Johnny Carson to sit on his famed "couch". Following her appearance on The Tonight Show, Ellen started making regular appearances on talk shows, including, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, and Good Morning America.

By 1994, DeGeneres had her own prime-time sitcom, titled These Friends of Mine and soon re-titled to Ellen. The show quickly became a showcase for DeGeneres. However in April of 1997, DeGeneres became a source of criticism and controversy. Ellen openly acknowledged her homosexuality in an episode and an ABC affiliate in Birmingham, Alabama refused to air the episode. Some sponsors of the show, including Daimler Chrysler who feared controversy took out their advertisements. Following episodes continued to have gay themes which would generate criticism, but also support from gay activists. DeGeneres would go on to win an Emmy for her coming-out episode.

Following the cancellation of her show in 1998, DeGeneres appeared in many movies, but soon returned to television with her own self-titled talk show, Ellen in 2003. The Ellen Show continues to air today, and has won both Daytime Emmy Awards and People's Choice Awards.


Ellen's practice is in her talent as a comedian as well as her ability to use her humor to reach out to all different people. Through her ability to express herself in a comedic light, no matter what the circumstances may be, Ellen has been able to use her comedic talent to create an awareness for many members of the LGBT community who have been discriminated against for who they are.
Ellen has used her talk show to feature both celebrities and non-public figures who have experienced bullying or have struggled with coming out. For example, Ellen has hosted on her show WWE wrestler Darren Young, who is the first openly gay pro wrestler and Ryan Andersen who after working to earn his Eagle Scout badge, was denied recognition because he had come out.


Ellen DeGeneres' display of virtue is seen through honesty.Honesty is not a trait often associated with anyone involved in the entertainment industry, yet DeGeneres has proven herself to be honest with both who she is, and explaining to the public why being honest with oneself is incredibly important.

DeGeneres' honesty in coming out on television allowed her to not only create a successful talk show and reputation in the entertainment world, but to also become a role model for many. Ellen's honesty allowed for her to show her courageousness and act as a role model for others unsure about coming out. Even with all of the criticisms that Ellen has endured she continues to be honest in everything she does and encourages all those around her to do the same. Not many people are capable of opening themselves up to the public and to critics, as Ellen has. Additionally, Ellen has used her honesty to react to any criticisms with respect and dignity, and has not let anyone hold her back in becoming successful. Ellen has also used her honesty to be a resource to the LGBT community and show to anyone suffering or being bullying that they have a support system and many resources available to them.


DeGeneres is one of very few women to have their own successful talk show. Additionally, DeGeneres has showed the world the influence she has had and will continue to have on the entertainment world, especially in gaining more respect for the LGBT community. Ellen used her decision to come out as an opportunity to show the public how proud she was of her decision and the importance of being supportive of those in her same position. Along with coming out on her sitcom as her character, Ellen also came out on The Oprah Winfrey Show in February 1997.

Much criticism followed Ellen's decision to come out on her television show and her sitcom was cancelled soon after as a result in May 1998. The reasoning being the show's cancellation is believed to be ABC's parent owner company, The Walt Disney Company, becoming uncomfortable with the show's content.
However, even with all the criticism, Ellen would continue to become an advocate for the gay community, and even announced her homosexuality on the cover of TIME Magazine. Coming out so publicly allowed for Ellen to become a role model for many struggling to come to terms with who they are, especially teenagers.


Ellen DeGeneres' choice worthy good is being both an activist and a resource for the LGBT community. One of the many organizations, which DeGeneres advocates for, is The Matthew Shephard Foundation called Matthew's Place. Ellen has not only publicized and advocated for this organization, among many others, but she features it on her website and has used her talk show as a platform to help those being bullied.
One of Ellen's other victories was in creating a petition for the movie Bully. The film had originally been given a "R" rating, but with the help of DeGeneres and members of Congress, the film's rating was changed to PG-13, to allow the film's target audience of teenagers to have a better opportunity to see the film and learn about the evils of bullying.

Written by Mary Goggins


Smith, T. The Biography Foundation. From Beginning to Now. (Ellen DeGeneres). January 4, 2012.