Ellen Degeneres Says She's a 'Work in Progress' While Discussing Controversy: Watch Monologue09/21/2020
Ellen DeGeneres is facing controversy head-on.
On Monday, the host, 62, addressed allegations of workplace toxicity in a six-minute opening monologue in the season 18 premiere of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The comedian previously hinted that she would comment on the accusations during the premiere.
Although there was no in-studio attendees due to COVID-19 precautions, DeGeneres spoke to fans who appeared virtually on screens situated in the audience. DeGeneres began the monologue by joking that her summer was "super terrific."
"As you may have heard, this summer there were accusations of a toxic work environment at our show, and then there was an investigation," she said. "I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously, and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected."
The actress continued by acknowledging that she's in a "position of privilege and power," taking responsibility for what happens behind the scenes on Ellen. DeGeneres added that the team is "starting a new chapter" after making "necessary changes" to resolve workplace problems.
DeGeneres also tackled criticisms that she doesn't live up to her upbeat television personality, which she dubbed the "Be Kind Lady," referring to her slogan, "Be kind to one another."
"Being known as the 'Be Kind Lady' is a tricky position to be in," she said. "… The truth is I am that person you see on TV. I am also a lot of other things. Sometimes I get sad. I get mad. I get anxious. I get frustrated. I get impatient — and I am working on all of that."
"I am a work in progress," said DeGeneres.
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Although season 18 of the talk show was originally expected to return on Sept. 9, the release was pushed back. "I can't wait to get back to work and back to our studio," DeGeneres said in a statement as the new premiere date was announced earlier this month, adding of the scandal, "Yes, we're gonna talk about it."
The premiere comes after WarnerMedia conducted an internal investigation into The Ellen DeGeneres Show following numerous complaints of workplace toxicity.
In July, BuzzFeed News published a report in which current and former staffers spoke anonymously about their experiences on set, which included claims of being penalized for taking medical leave, instances of racial microaggressions and fear of retribution for raising complaints.
DeGeneres has since apologized to her staff, and three top producers — Ed Glavin, Kevin Leman and Jonathan Norman — have parted ways with the show. Staffers on the show also recently learned that they will now receive increased benefits.
In an emotional video conference with staff last month, DeGeneres admitted that she "wasn't perfect," a source who was on the call told PEOPLE at the time.
"I'm a multi-layered person, and I try to be the best person I can be and I try to learn from my mistakes," she said. "I'm hearing that some people felt that I wasn't kind or too short with them, or too impatient. I apologize to anybody if I've hurt your feelings in any way."
A source told PEOPLE about DeGeneres filming the "poignant and funny" opening monologue, revealing that she was "connecting with the staff over Zoom" and "knows that it's on her to make sure everyone feels like they're being heard and valued" ahead of the premiere.
On the day the season 18 premiere was filmed, DeGeneres was supported by her wife Portia de Rossi and the crew applauded when the host walked off the set, according to the source, who added: "It was an emotional moment for everyone; she thanked everyone."
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