Comedian Ellen DeGeneres is standing at a career crossroads. The 60-year-old daytime talk show host recently sat down with the New York Times to discuss the release of her new comedy special Relatable. The special will be her first in 15 years since Here and Now released on HBO. Relatable will debut on Netflix December 18.
Through the profile, we discovered a revelation about the Ellen host: with her new material ready to premiere to a worldwide audience, DeGeneres wants an answer to the age-old question asked of all comedy superstars returning to center stage after an extended absence.
Am I still relevant? Or as she herself puts it during her set, “Am I still relatable?”
While we wait for the special’s release, let’s take a look at the top five takeaways from The New York Times’s interview of America’s favorite ‘not as nice as we thought’ talk show host:
1) Her wife Portia De Rossi wants her to quit Ellen.
Despite signing an extension to stay on the air through 2020, DeGeneres almost declined re-upping—seemingly at the behest of de Rossi. “I just think she’s such a brilliant actress and stand-up that it doesn’t have to be this talk show for her creativity,” she said. “There are other things she could tackle.” She added, “I don’t see the end of her show as her career ending.”
2) It was her older brother Vance DeGeneres that urged her to renew her contract and return to stand-up.
“After doing the show for 16 years, it’s second nature,” said the former Daily Show correspondent. “She wanted to break out of, not a rut, but a mold.”
Ellen said that doing the upcoming special was more about showing the world a complete version of herself. “I wanted to show all of me,” she said. “The talk show is me, but I’m also playing a character of a talk-show host. There’s a tiny, tiny bit of difference.”
3) After coming out of the closet on her self-titled sitcom in 1997, she fell into a deep depression.
Shortly after gracing the cover of Time in the wake of the monumental and then-controversial episode, ABC put a parental advisory warning on the show for the remainder of the season, and eventually canceled the show altogether the following year. According to the profile, DeGeneres felt “her straight audience left her and [that] she received wounding criticism from gay viewers for not being political enough.”
“It was interesting to me that I was more relatable when I was closeted and dishonest than when I came out,” she said.
4) She was a sensitive child growing u and had no real understanding as what she was going to do with her life.
In the profile, DeGeneres shares that she didn’t think she would live to see adulthood while attending elementary school. “I just didn’t think I’d be alive,” she said. She also noted that her uneasiness might have stemmed from her Christian Science upbringing, with many memories of that time revolving around her “feeling out of place or bottled up.” The article also goes on to mention DeGeneres’ father (who died nearly a year ago) noting her description of him as being “kind and cautious, someone who wanted above all else for things to be harmonious.” She added, “He was a very fearful man. He couldn’t hear or engage with anything not pleasant.”
5) No matter where she goes or what she does, people just want her to dance.
“There’s been times someone wants a picture, and while I’m doing a selfie, they’re like: ‘You’re not dancing!’” She said of her response to their expectations: “Of course I’m not dancing. I’m walking down the street.”
Check out the full profile here.