The clip below changed the game for television.
When most people my age or younger think about Ellen DeGeneres, we tend to think Dory or hilarious, lesbian talk show host, not revolutionary, but that’s exactly what she is. In 1996, Ellen’s character, Ellen Morgan came out on national television and it sent tidal waves through the entertainment industry. Despite the episode winning multiple Emmy’s, however, ABC decided to cancel the show after just one more season. The final season had to have a “parental warning” before every episode.
Then when Ellen came out in real life on the cover of TIME magazine and the Oprah show in 1997, it was a really big deal but shortly after Ellen’s career tanked. Her show had been cancelled and no one was hiring her.Ellen had to build herself back up through Finding Nemo (2003) and then through her talk show.
Ellen had deliberately started her career without discussing her sexuality because she wanted people to just get to know her first. She thought that if people knew her and liked her, that it would not be as big of a deal. She was working on acceptance. In a study by Variety magazine, Americans cited Ellen as the single most influential person on their attitudes about gay rights. Ellen was so influential that former President Barack Obama presented her with a Medal of Freedom. He said, “Again and again Ellen DeGeneres has shown us that a single individual can make the world a more fun, more open, and more loving place so long as we just keep swimming.”