Ellen DeGeneres has effectively cemented herself into American popular culture with her loveable personality and fast wit.
But it wasn’t always this way. There was a time when the Emmy Award-winning host received hate and criticism just for being open about who she truly is.
Take a trip down memory lane and see the incredible story of how DeGeneres overcame the most daunting obstacles to come out as one of America’s favorite comedians.
Odd Jobs and Stand Up Comedy
The now 61-year-old comedian turned daytime talk show host was born and raised in Lousiana in the late 1950s.
She would, later on, attend college in the same state enrolling at the University of New Orleans and majored in communication studies.
However, she dropped out of college after only one semester and began making a living through a couple of odd jobs from a house painter to a vacuum salesperson to an unspecified position she had at J.C. Penney.
DeGeneres eventually tried her hand at stand up comedy in the early 1980s where she used her long list of unusual jobs as material for her shows. This proved to be a wise career step as she would win the Funniest Person in America contest at the Showtime network in 1984.
TV Star and Controversy
After a series of small television series roles, she would finally get her big break when ABC signed her up to star in her very own sitcom called Ellen in 1994.
The show proved to be a hit and the comedian was even asked to be a co-host at the same year’s Emmy Awards.
But her career will take a big hit three years later when she made history upon coming out as part of the LGBT community on the cover of Time and an episode of her own show.
While she received support from fans and members of the LGBT community, DeGeneres received backlash from religious groups which boycotted her show and all others from its parent company. Her decision also led to companies pulling out their advertisements from her show’s time slot.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Current Success
Still, support poured over and DeGeneres was able to weather the storm that threatened to kill her career.
The 2000s proved to be even better for the comedian after she was signed on to host her very own daytime talk show, The Ellen Show and star in a highly successful movie, Finding Nemo.
After hosting the Emmy Awards again, she eventually won one Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show.
But the most important highlight of her decades-long career happened when she received the Presidential Medal for Freedom in 2016 for her contributions to pop culture and social activism.