How Ellen DeGeneres Has Made The World (And TV) A Better Place
At the end of each episode of her hit talk show, Ellen DeGeneres always says the same phrase- “Be kind to one another”. That’s not just a catch phrase she has though, it’s words she genuinely lives by. After a rough time in her life, Ellen DeGeneres has impacted the world in so many ways. When Ellen said the words “I’m gay” on national television in 1997, it signaled an era of change. Up until that moment, lesbian characters were basically non-existant. It was slow progress then, but years later Ellen DeGeneres is one of the most well-recognized, respected and beloved celebrities, and an out and proud lesbian.
After the episode aired, Ellen’s career took a huge hit. Her sitcom was cancelled,DeGeneres ended up on the cover of Time magazine, and she couldn’t get acting parts on other shows. She has admitted that she went through a period of depression.
When she lent her easily-distinguishable voice to the adorable Dory in 2003’s Finding Nemo, the comic-turned-TV personality saw her career turn around. Her new talk show premiered that same year. She now has 28 Daytime Emmy Awards, 20 People’s Choice Awards among her many awards. In 2016, she was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama, the highest civilian honor.
What many people don’t realize is that Degeneres is the People’s Choice Awards record holder for the Most Awards. As Justin Timberlake said about her, “She’s a trailblazer, a rule-breaker, a relentless philanthropist, a presidential medal of freedom winner and one of the funniest and most talented people on the planet.” But the fact that the PEOPLE are choosing her over and over, after her show was cancelled and people didn’t know how to react to her, has to be the greatest part.
Besides her work on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”, Ellen’s groundbreaking success has been inspiring to others and removed the stigma from lesbian and bi storylines, making them an accepted part of what we see on television today. After Ellen came out both in real life, and as her character , we’ve seen women come out on mainstream television series including “Friends”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Pretty Little Liars” and “Glee”.
But she has done so much more than many people realize. While many celebrities don’t always use their fame for good, Ellen only does that. In 2016, she won the People’s Choice Humanitarian Award and donated the $100,000 donation from Walgreens to St. Jude’s Childrens Hospital. As Melissa McCarthy said when she introduced her, “When she hears about anyone in need, anywhere, she is the first to help them.”
She dedicated an entire season of her show to helping others. During season 10 of her show, inviting guests and giving them the help they needed. For example, a single mom was raising her kids and her neice and got laid off a year and a half earlier and has been struggling to find work. All they wanted was a new microwave since theirs had broken. DeGeneres did give them a new microwave, but it had $20,000 inside. The family was so grateful and then DeGeneres gave the family a brand-new car.
Not only does DeGeneres help, but she inspires others too as well. Often when celebrities come on her show, they use that time to help their favorite causes. Ryan Reynolds $25,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation for appearing in her dunk tank. When DeGeneres and Lowes donated over $500,000 to help to rebuild Spain Elementry in Detroit, Justin Beiber announced that he would donate $1 from every one of his tickets sold to Spain Elementry.
She has given away way more than $50 million dollars on her show. In figuring out the numbers, we know that she has raised $12.5 million for breast cancer, more than $10 million for families affected by Hurricane Katrina, and more than $21 million to individuals and families who shared their stories with her. DeGeneres has even inspired her audience to donate more than $35 million of their own.
So while Ellen has done amazing things, opening the doors for so many people to be who they want to be, to be honest to themselves, she also has helped people in ways she can’t even imagine. As she was given her Medal of Freedom, they summed up her accomplishments in the best way.”She has shown us that a single individual can make the world a more fun, more open, more loving place so long as we just keep swimming.”