Ellen DeGeneres's brother Vance speaks out: ‘She has been and continues to be a bright light in a dark world’

Suzy Byrne
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·3 min read

Ellen DeGeneres’s brother has her back. Amid the behind-the-scenes troubles with her daytime talk show, her brother, Vance DeGeneres, has spoken out in support of her.

“If you think Ellen would knowingly allow bullying or racism on her show, you don’t know my sister,” he wrote on Twitter. He went on to say his sibling “has been and continues to be a bright light in a dark world” and called her “one of the kindest, most generous people you’ll ever meet” in addition to “one of the funniest.”

The Ellen DeGeneres Show is under investigation amid claims of it being a toxic work environment. While most of the allegations pertain to show producers — in that they created a culture of racism, sexual harassment and intimidation — DeGeneres is the boss. DeGeneres apologized to staffers in a memo, saying that she is ultimately responsible for the culture as the show has her name on it.

DeGeneres is often speaking about kindness and that reputation has also been called into question. Some celebrities have spoken out in support of her — including Kevin Hart, Katy Perry, Diane Keaton and her wife, Portia de Rossi — while some others have spoken out against. Brad Garrett of Everybody Loves Raymond fame said he knows “more than one who were treated horribly by her” and called it “common knowledge.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 21:   Comedienne Ellen DeGeneres and brother Vance attend the 52nd Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 21, 1995 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Ellen DeGeneres and brother Vance at the 1995l Golden Globe Awards. (Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

But whether celebrities are publicly backing her or not, it’s really employees who have claimed that the show is a toxic work environment, not the A-listers in the green rooms being pampered by show staffers. BuzzFeed News spoke to dozens of people making claims, though many were scared to put their name on the record for fear of retribution. In recent days, some former employees have spoken publicly.

Tony Okungbowa, better known as DJ Tony, said in an Instagram post on Tuesday that he “did experience and feel the toxicity of the environment.”

“I stand with my former colleagues in their quest to create a healthier and more inclusive workplace as the show moves forward,” he wrote.

On Wednesday, Hedda Muskat, who worked on the show in 2003, appeared on the Australian morning show Sunrise and claimed she was “emotionally abused” during her brief time on the show and “ fired for no reason.” She said they “ended up [giving] my job to a guy I trained who was about 24 years old and had no experience.”

DeGeneres’s big brother Vance is a comedian like her, helping create “Mr. Bill” shorts for Saturday Night Live and serving as a former correspondent for The Daily Show. He also wrote on the Ellen show.

In a 2018 New York Times profile on DeGeneres (funnily enough, titled: “Ellen DeGeneres Is Not as Nice as You Think”), DeGeneres said Vance changed her mind more than once when she considered ending her talk show. His argument was that, in the age of Donald Trump, the country needs more of DeGeneres’s positivity. DeGeneres noted in the interview that her brother convincing her to continue the show annoyed de Rossi, who thinks she should pursue more creative endeavors than the talk show, including acting and stand-up.

Read more from Yahoo Entertainment: