As Finding Dory makes its debut, Ellen DeGeneres has been receiving a lot of praise for her role as Dory. Finding Dory is not the introduction of Ellen into most of our lives–Many of us keep up with The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Ellen’s daytime talk show, and many of us pride ourselves in watching her stand-up comedy and episodes of her old prime-time sitcom, Ellen. Ellen is a wonderful entertainer, and for that she deserves praise. She’s charming, witty, and clever. She’s also a wonderful person, though–Time and time again she proves to be a top-notch activist, making it her top priority to incorporate peace, love, and kindness in all of our lives. These efforts should not go unrecognized. Here are 7 reasons why Ellen DeGeneres rocks our socks off:
1. In 1997, Ellen’s character on Ellen was the first sitcom lead to openly identify as gay. The same year, Ellen herself disclosed her sexual orientation to the world on the Oprah Winfrey Show, making herself one of the first Hollywood celebrities to identify as gay. At the time, being openly gay was still taboo. Ellen reports being scared that she would lose everything by coming out–In fact, she didn’t think she’d ever come out. She once said, “I am not fearless. I didn’t do it because I am fearless. I did it in spite of the fact that I was scared to death.” By coming out, she created a national dialogue about sexuality and inspired many others to come out as well. More information here.
2. Ellen is a strong advocate for LGBTQ youth. Following the suicide of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, who ended his life after being outed as gay on the internet, Ellen took a break from the usual comedy on her show to inform her audience of the dangers of teenage bullying. After recognizing the high rates of teenage suicide, she stated, “These kids needed us. We have an obligation to change this. There are messages everywhere that validate this kind of bullying and taunting and we have to make it stop. We can’t let intolerance and ignorance to another kid’s life.”
3. Ellen is a survivor of sexual abuse, and uses her experience to educate and help others. She reports, “It’s important for teenage girls out there to hear that there are different ways to say no. And if it ever happens to them, they should tell someone
right away.” More details can be found here.
4. Ellen DeGeneres is an advocate for women. For example, on her talk show she once spoke about the importance of having a woman on the $20 bill. She recognized how unfair it is that women have never been featured on paper money before and used this as an opportunity to uplift women. She said, “First of all, it’s important for young women to have a constant reminder that there are amazing female role models and that they can do anything. Anything at all.”
5. After being asked to endorse their gendered product, Ellen went on a totally badass rant about BIC’s pens for women. Ellen said, “So, when we’re taking down dictation from our bosses, we’ll feel comfortable, and we’ll forget we’re not getting paid as much?”
6. Ellen repeatedly shows the world that humor doesn’t have to be mean, “Most comedy is based on getting a laugh at somebody else’s expense. And I find that that’s just a form of bullying in a major way,” she said in an interview. “So I want to be an example that you can be funny and be kind, and make people laugh without hurting somebody else’s feelings.” Ellen has won numerous awards for her comedy, proving that humor can in fact be kind.
7. Ellen consistently spreads generosity and kindness. She makes it a mission to personally reach out to individuals in need, providing them with support. Furthermore, she raises awareness for organizations and charities whose missions are to make positive differences in people’s lives. In January during the People’s Choice Awards, she was named as the people’s “Favorite Humanitarian.” In her acceptance speech, she said humbly, “It’s a little strange to actually get an award for being nice and generous and kind, which is what we’re all supposed to do with one another. That’s the point of being a human.”
In a world of anger and hatred, Ellen has remained a beacon of hope for people during their darkest hours. She shows the world that if we love each other and help one another, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.