Ellen DeGeneres ends a growth cycle

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ellen DeGeneres revels in what her morning show has brought viewers in its nearly two-decade history: a combination of absurdity, seriousness and, in recent years, respite from tough times.

She also acknowledges that who she is counts for a lot: a charismatic TV presenter who is married to another woman. But she would like to see that difference end up being irrelevant.

“It should be no different than someone who has a talk show and is straight. But it means something and I’m proud of it. I am really grateful,” Ellen said.

The host decided it was time to put an end to “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” after 19 years of transmissions and, before dancing off the stage, she will be celebrating with high-profile guests, such as Jennifer Lawrence, Mila Kunis and Bruno Mars, as well as like Jennifer Aniston, Billie Eilish and Pink in the final episode next Thursday 26.

With filming recently wrapped, Ellen DeGeneres could take advice from another famous former talk show host, her friend Oprah Winfrey, in the episode that airs Tuesday. Oprah suggests Ellen take a break.

It will? “Define ‘free time,’” Ellen DeGeneres replies wryly.

Now busy with one of her passions, home renovations, she will travel to Rwanda to visit a birthday present from her wife, actress Portia de Rossi: the recently completed Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, an expanding headquarters for the gorilla conservation project named in honor of the late American scientist.

Ellen DeGeneres has production deals and ideas she wants to develop, reveals the actress and comedian, who has worked in the movies, with films like “Mr. Wrong” and “Finding Dory,” and television, including his groundbreaking 1990s comedy series “Ellen,” the first broadcast network show with a gay lead. Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), praised Ellen DeGeneres’ contributions then and now.

Her legacy “is rooted in her being one of the most influential trailblazers in the entertainment industry when it comes to LGBTQ visibility,” Ellis noted. Ellen DeGeneres invited viewers to “get to know and understand LGBTQ youth, transgender people, and in doing so, she reminded millions of people that our community still faces many challenges and inequalities.”

Ellen DeGeneres recently spoke about why her show worked, meeting young fans, and reflecting on her influence.

Oprah Winfrey said you’ll never have a moment like this and referred to her show and its time on the air as “the glory days.” How does that sound to you?

I also had glory days in my comedy series, the last ones that I really savored and enjoyed. I think one can have many glory days, I hope, because I have. She is right; in a sense, that will never happen (again). Then I will create new ones.

Looking for your morning talk show to offer something that hadn’t been seen before?

We were ridiculous. Those moments on “The Carol Burnett Show” when Harvey and Tim (Korman and Conway) would just lose their temper and laugh so hard, just plain silly… That’s what we did with the games, what we did with other segments. We had a great mix, interesting people and interesting conversations. Some people were celebrities and other spirit guides. We also helped people who needed it and were doing amazing things. We incorporate music. It was a combination of everything. I am proud that we have given so much in each episode.

Are you satisfied with having viewers of all ages who find what you do attractive?

The other day I stopped to see if some girls who had crashed their bike into a wall were okay; there were three on the bike, which was ridiculous. And they were laughing and I was laughing. I said, “Are you okay?” and they said, “Are you Ellen!?” They were between 11 and 12 years old. I have (spectators) who are grandparents, who are men, who are women. I am so proud that I was able to reach so many different people with my humor and personality, not a specific demographic. I hope to represent pure fun, because God knows we all need a break right now.

When the show started in 2003, attitudes toward LGBTQ+ people and rights were different. You were a gay woman that viewers could relate to. This is important?

It’s not, until I see that there is so much hate or discrimination and I realize that I’m on TV every day being myself and that should reach people. I’m so thankful that I get to be myself every day instead of just continuing to act, playing different roles all the time. I wouldn’t have been able to explore and see myself grow as a person. And just by being there I hope I’ve sent a message that I’m really no different from anyone else.

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