When you hear the word prophet what do you think of? The first thing that probably comes into your mind is the bible, whether it's the New Testament or the Old Testament, the bible holds many religious prophets. But did you ever think that there could be modern day prophets today? There are many modern day prophets, or change makers, in our world today, you just not know about them. If someone told you worldwide sensation, actress and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres was a modern day prophet of change, would you believe them? Well its true, between her donations to charities to speaking out against issues that she believes in, she is just one of many examples of today's modern day prophets of change.
Ellen Lee DeGeneres was born on January 26th 1958, in Metairie, Louisiana, to parents Elliot and Betty DeGeneres. Growing up her mother worked as a real-estate agent and her father was an insurance salesman. When Ellen was sixteen her parents divorced and her mother, Betty, remarried salesman Roy Gruessendorf. Shortly after Ellen, her older brother, Vance, her mother and her new stepfather moved to Atlanta, Texas. Ellen grew up dreaming of becoming a veterinarian, but she gave it up when she discovered she was not “book smart”. Throughout her high school years and into her early twenties Ellen waited tables, selling vacuum cleaners and painting houses. In 1976, she graduated from Atlanta High School and continued her education at the University of New Orleans. She studied communications for two semesters before she dropped out. After this Ellen used her sense of comedy to make a living, she performed small stand-up comedy acts in local pubs and coffee shops. By the early 1980's Ellen was becoming more popular and by 1986 she landed a spot on The Tonight Show Staring Johnny Carson. Ellen dated actress Anne Heche for many years, but in 2000 the couple broke up. After that Ellen was involved with Alexandra Hedison for a few years before finding her true love Portia de Rossi. On August 16th, 2008, after California legalized same sex marriages, Ellen and Portia sealed the deal at their extravagant wedding.
After Ellen found her love for stand-up comedy she started performing at local coffee houses and pubs. She became quite popular with her hilarious jokes and comedic statements. Ellen's big break in comedy happened when she was twenty-three. In 1986, while performing at the Improv in Hollywood a booking agent from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson spotted her and invited her to come onto the show. After her segment on the show, she was invited to sit down on “the couch” and talk with Johnny Carson. Ellen was the first female comedian to be invited to sit on “the couch” during her first appearance. After her arrival on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson her career really took off. She started getting invited onto other shows, such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Good Morning, America and many others. Ellen also had the privilege to be profiled on ABC's PrimeTime Live. In 1991 Ellen was awarded the American Comedy Award for Funniest Female Stand-Up Comedic. Not only did her appearance bring her fame within the comedic community but it also brought her into the acting community. Her acting career got off to a slow start, as Ellen only had small supporting roles in television shows; it was not until she was apart of a prime-time sitcom titled These Friends of Mine. The show had such great success that in 1994 it was renamed to Ellen. From this point on in her life, Ellen knew she wanted to have a career that combines her love for being on television with her talent of stand-up comedy.
Ellen DeGeneres performing her stand-up comedy act on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
Ellen sitting on "the couch" on The Tonight Show Staring Johnny Carson.
Ellen carried around a huge weight on her shoulders, for many years, until she finally admitted to the public that she was a lesbian. This announcement didn’t come right away though. Before telling the public, her sitcom show, Ellen, aired an episode called The Puppy Episode where he character openly discussed her homosexuality. Shortly after that, in 1997, Ellen appeared on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show where she came out as a lesbian. On April 14th, 1997, TIME Magazine did a cover story on Ellen that was entitled, Yep, I’m Gay. This big announcement made Ellen TV’s first openly lesbian star. Ellen’s life did not get easier after she came out, many religious groups protested against her, and her sitcom lost many viewers. At this point in time being a lesbian was not the social “norm”, it was sometimes even considered to be socially unacceptable so after Ellen came out she was not looked up to as a role model to young women, and was sometimes even frowned upon.
Time of Crisis
In early 1997, her sitcom entitled Ellen aired an episode called The Puppy Episode, where Ellen’s character openly speaks about her homosexuality. Before this episode was aired warnings were put onto the television screen to warn viewers about the content. Many episodes after this had lesbian and gay themes. This brought a ton of controversy to the show. Slowly the sitcom lost sponsors that withdrew their advertisements and less and less people were watching the show. There were many critics and only a handful of gay-friendly activists, one, of course, was Ellen’s mother Betty DeGeneres. In 1998 the show was cancelled. This was a difficult time in Ellen’s life, with no career and much criticism, she had no where to go.
Ellen did not let this stop her. She played many small back-up roles in a few movies, some including EdTV and the television show If These Walls Could Talk 2. In 2001, Ellen attempted to launch a new show, The Ellen Show, but had poor ratings and low viewings and was quickly cancelled. Again, in 2003, Ellen launched a new series, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, a comedic daytime talk show. The series became an instant success, and since the launch had received many awards. The show, in its tenth season, is still a worldwide hit where Ellen interviews many of today’s biggest celebrities and has many small hilarious segments, many that involve audience guests. Also, in 2003, Ellen voiced Dory in the hilarious, box office breaker movie Finding Nemo, and will have her great tribute in the sequel Finding Dory that hits theaters in 2015. Along with her hit television show and movie, Ellen has had the opportunity to judge the ninth season of American Idol in September of 2009 and is one of CoverGirl’s models to enhance and promote natural beauty. Although Ellen had many rough patches in her life, including a career stopping one, she managed to make her way back to the top.
"Find out who you are and be that person. That's what your soul was put on this Earth to be. Find that truth, live that truth and everything else will come" ~ Ellen DeGeneres
Ellen as a Spokesperson
Ellen DeGeneres may not seem like your traditional ‘hero’ or ‘change maker’, but she definitely is one. Ellen uses her worldwide fame to bring awareness to issues that are close to her heart; she is a modern day prophet of change. Ellen is known for doing a ton of charity work and donating a lot of money to different charities. Ellen currently supports thirty-four different charities and non-profit organizations; they vary from Red Cross to STOMP Out Bullying. During the month of October, Ellen’s, Ellen for the Cure, campaign runs on her show to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Along with Ben Affleck, Ellen has launched a campaign called Small Change Campaign to help benefit feeding America. Ellen is also widely known for her love of animals and her attempts to work with animal rights. Not only is Ellen a vegan, but she also supports many animal right charities. Ellen has accepted PETCO Foundations hope award because of her promotions of bonding the animal kingdom with humans. Ellen also co-owns Halo Pet Food, an organization that supplies over a million natural pet meals to a hundred animal shelters all over America. In 2009, Ellen was awarded People’s, Women of the Year, for The Ethical Treatment of Animals.
“I wish we lived in a world where caring for animals wasn’t so rare that it deserved an award. All I do is treat animals with the respect and dignity they deserve. I hope someday soon, everyone does the same.”
~ Ellen DeGeneres
Ellen’s show alone has raised over fifty million dollars and has donated it to a variety of causes and campaigns. Ellen uses her talk show as a way to help struggling families and individuals. She will often bring people onto her show and tell her audience their story, whether it is their struggle or something amazing they did to help society, and she never lets them leave the show without a gift or money. She also, very often, will talk about and discuss local and global issues that are close to her heart, this brings great awareness and attention to these issues. Ellen has been included in TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women and Entertainment Weekly’s 50 Most Powerful Entertainers. At the end of every episode Ellen finishes by saying, “Be kind to one another”, which promotes, not only being kind, but also treating everyone fairly and equally. Thought they may not be traditional, Ellen DeGeneres does many things in her life that make her an excellent example of a modern day prophet.
“Contribute to the world. Help people. Help one person. Help someone cross the street today. Help someone with directions unless you have a terrible sense of direction. Help someone who is trying to help you. Just help. Make an impact. Show someone you care. Say yes instead of no. Say something nice. Smile. Make eye contact. Hug." ~ Ellen DeGeneres
Not only has Ellen spent the last years of her life donating to charities, spesking out against issues amd attempting to improve animal rights, she has spent the ten years on her talk show helping struggling families. This short video hilights some of her most touching moments.
"“It always helps to think about other people instead of ourselves.” ~ Ellen DeGeneres
Ellen has done a lot in her life to help the lives of others, and there are many way you can help too. The easiest way, is by following Ellen's famous saying, "Be kind to one another". Treat everyone and everything equally and with the same love and respect. Ellen is a peacemaker and is always looking out for the enviroment. The littlest actions, like turning off lights and not wasing water can make a huge impact. Currently Ellen supports many charities, and you can too. It does not have to be a huge amount of money but every little bit counts. Here are some was you can make a difference:
~ Support charities ~ "Be kind to one another" ~ Talk about issues that are close to your heart ~ Treat animals with the same respect as humans ~ Treat everyone equally ~ Help someone in need
Check out the website listed below to learn about the charities Ellen DeGeneres supports and find out ways how you can get involved!