It’s hard to believe, but not everyone loves Ellen DeGeneres.
The 60-year-old comedian and talk show host discusses the hate she’s encountered in a new cover interview with Adweek, which has honored her with its Media Visionary Award.
In 1997, during the fourth season of her self-titled sitcom, Ellen, both DeGeneres and her character famously came out as a lesbian with “The Puppy Episode.”
“When I came out, I had death threats and there was a bomb threat, but they misjudged the time of the taping,” DeGeneres tells the magazine. “We had already finished, and thank God.”
“The Puppy Episode” earned record ratings, as well as an Emmy and a Peabody Award, but ABC ultimately cancelled Ellen after the following season.
“I knew there would be people that didn’t like it, but I didn’t realize my show would be cancelled,” she says. “I just thought, ’It’s going to be interesting.'”
“We’re living in a time now, the more controversial something is, the more popular it is,” she continues. “I just didn’t happen to have a show on at that time.”
“It’s definitely something I know helped a lot of people, and I was hoping it would help more people,” she says of Ellen’s impact. “Right after I came out, Matthew Shepard was killed, and it just devastated me.”
DeGeneres also discusses how she handles negativity on social media, which is something she didn’t have to deal with in the ’90s.
“I try not to read. But I have to pay attention just a little bit, because I want feedback. When you’re getting slammed by someone on your Twitter page or Instagram, you’re like, why are you following me if you hate me? And then I realized, well, they just do it because there’s so much anger in them. I don’t understand it. I don’t take it personally.”
Despite potential threats, DeGeneres refuses to shy away from controversial topics like sexual violence and gun control on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. “I hope people understand it’s not even a political thing,” she explains. “It’s just about what kind of character the person has. I demand if somebody is stepping over the line [for them to be] a decent, honest human being.”
As for Trump? “I don’t go after him, but if he does something that is kind of like ‘What are you talking about?,’ I’m going to say something,” she says. “Let him do what he does, and let’s try to push light into the world.”