Back when I was a student, one of the things I loved to do when I was sick at home was to watch The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
The comedian has always been able lift my spirits and act as an inspiration to myself and others. With her good-natured humor, it isn't surprising her talk show has been on air for almost 15 years.
However, life hasn't always been easy for DeGeneres. She recently sat down with actor Dax Shepard and shared the six heartbreaking struggles she went through during the early days of her career for his podcast, Armchair Expert.
1. DeGeneres lost her former girlfriend to a tragic car accident
The talk show host was only 20 years old when her girlfriend lost her life in a fatal car accident.
"I was living with her, and when she was killed, I couldn’t afford to live where we were living together," she said. "So I moved into this tiny little basement apartment that I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor infested with fleas."
DeGeneres said she thought to herself, "Why is this beautiful, 21-year-old girl gone and fleas are here? And I just thought it would be amazing if we could pick up the phone and call up God and ask questions and actually get an answer."
However, her partner's death inspired her write her routine called "Phone Call to God," which she performed on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1986.
2. She felt lonely during her early stand-up performances
In the early stages of her career, DeGeneres said she was often plagued by loneliness.
"I was by myself," she said of her first few stand-up tours. "It’s not like I had friends I could afford to put up with me. I wasn’t flying private. I was flying commercial all the time and changing planes. I hate flying. I get anxiety when I fly so I couldn’t wait to stop touring."
She also shared she was disgusted that her male counterparts would often bring women home with them while on tour.
"I'd see them bring home people. It was gross. You were scared to sleep in that bed and [ask yourself], 'Who was there before? What's in the rug?' That kind of thing. It may have influenced the decision I took in life," she added.
3. She was devastated over the cancellation of her sitcom Ellen
Even though the 1997's groundbreaking episode of DeGeneres coming out garnered a significant amount of support, she alleges that producers at ABC and Disney were "scared" of the backlash from advertisers, and decided to suddenly pull the plug on the show.
"[It ended] because I came out. This is a long story, but they really didn't want me to come out. I wanted to come out. I said, 'It's my life. I want to come out. I want the character to come out. It's the time.' I said, I'm going to lose the career. Like, you can just put another show on. It's my show to lose,'" she explained.
"Even though it wasn't my show. They finally let me come out and it was a huge success the night of. It was celebrated...then they just stopped promoting it because they were scared," she added.
4. She was hurt by Elton John's harsh criticism towards her
Due to the vast media attention DeGenere's coming out caused, she said the public eventually got sick of her making the news, including music legend, Elton John.
"Because there was so much talk about it, everyone was just sick of it. I had only done the cover of Time magazine, a prime time special with Diane Sawyer and Oprah... Even Elton John said, 'Shut up already. We know you're gay. Be funny.' I had never met him and I thought, 'What kind of support is that from a gay person?'" DeGeneres said.
5. She became depressed after having jokes made at her expense
DeGeneres said she also struggled when talk show hosts would make her the butt of all their jokes.
"Everybody assumed I was just nonstop talking about it. It hurt my feelings. I was getting jokes made at my expense on every late-night show. People were making fun of me," she said. "I was really depressed. And because of that, and because my show was cancelled, I was looked at as a failure in this business. No one would touch me. I had no agent, no possibility of a job. I had nothing."
6. She faced criticism from the LGBT community
Despite coming out, DeGeneres said she faced backlash from the LGBT community for not being "gay enough."
"I was looked at as the new leader, and I didn't want to be a leader and I didn't want to be political... I just wanted to be free from a secret and that's all I wanted," DeGeneres said.
She added: "Some people thought, ‘You're not gay enough and you're not doing enough for our community and there are so many that have done more.' I didn't say I was your leader and I didn't say I have done more… I just want to be a comedian and I just happen to be gay. I think I'm doing a lot just by being a physical presence of hopefully a representation, not of the entire gay community, but of someone at home going, ‘There's someone that's gay.'"
What do you think was the most interesting thing taken from DeGeneres' interview?
[H/T: E! News]