Ellen Degeneres (born January 26, 1958) is an American comedian, television host, writer, actress, and television producer. From 1994 to 1998, she was the star of the popular sitcom Ellen and has hosted the Ellen Degeneres Talk Show since 2003. Degeneres grew up in Louisiana, graduating from Atlanta High School in 1976. After High School, she attended the University of New Orleans, but left the university after one semester. She began her stand up comedy career in 1980 in bars, coffee shops, comedy clubs, etc and her comedy career skyrocketed after her appearance on the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Degeneres began her television acting career in 1989, co-starring in the short-lived Fox sitcom Open House. In 1994, Degeneres began Ellen, which became extremely successful. In 1997, she made her homosexuality public on the Oprah Winfrey Show. In 2003, Degeneres debuted the Ellen Degeneres Talk Show, which is still extremely popular and regularly features top celebrity guests and collaborations.
Engagement in Cultural Diplomacy
In 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton named Degeneres a Special Envoy for Global AIDS Awareness. She is also an avid supporter of animal rights and a vegan. She was named “Woman of the Year” by PETA in 2009.
Degeneres is involved in a number of humanitarian and social causes including: the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Malaria No More, the It Gets Better Campaign, Habitat for Humanity, Stand Up to Cancer, the ONE Campaign, GLAAD, Artists Against Racism, PETA, and many others.
In 2011, DeGeneres opened the show at the David Lynch Foundation's 3rd annual "Change Begins Within" gala at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to raise funds to bring Transcendental Meditation at-risk populations suffering from epidemic levels of chronic stress and stress-related eating disorders. She says: "TM is the only time I have that stillness… it gives me this peaceful feeling, and I love it so much. I can’t say enough good things about it. All the benefits that you can achieve from sitting still and going within—it really is a beautiful experience. David Lynch is such a wonderful man to start this foundation to help people."