Ellen DeGeneres kicked off season 18 of The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Monday, Sept. 21 and addressed her viewers for the first time since allegations of the show's "toxic" work environment made headlines.
The 62-year-old host began her monologue by welcoming both her supporters and her critics to the program.
"If you're watching because you love me, thank you," she said. "If you're watching because you don't love me, welcome."
DeGeneres then asked her virtual audience about their summer, joking that hers was "great" and "super terrific" amid the claims first published in a BuzzFeed News report back in July. Taking a more serious tone, the star then noted there were a lot of topics she wanted to discuss.
"As you may have heard, this summer there were allegations of a toxic work environment at our show and then there was an investigation," she said. "I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected."
DeGeneres also acknowledged she's "in a position of privilege and power" and how that position comes with responsibility. As a result, she said she takes responsibility for what happens at her show.
"This is The Ellen DeGeneres Show," she continued. "I am Ellen DeGeneres. My name is there. My name is there. My name is on underwear."
In addition, she made it clear that she and her staff have "had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks" about the show, the workplace and what they want for the future.
"We have made the necessary changes," she said, "and today we are starting a new chapter."
Some of these changes involved the staff. Last month, Warner Bros. confirmed that executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman "parted ways" with the syndicated talk show.
DeGeneres also addressed articles and social media posts that claimed she's not who she appears to be because she's "known as the 'be kind' lady." She started off by explaining how she got the nickname.
"Here's how that happened," DeGeneres said. "I started saying 'be kind to one another' after a young man named Tyler Clementi took his own life after being bullied for being gay. I thought the world needed more kindness and it was a reminder that we all needed that. And I think we need it more than ever right now."
She then admitted that "being known as the 'be kind' lady is a tricky position to be in."
"The truth is I am that person that you see on TV," she said. "I am also a lot of other things. Sometimes I get sad; I get mad; I get anxious; I get frustrated; I get impatient and I am working on all of that. I am a work in progress, and I am especially working on the impatience thing. And it's not going well because it's not going fast enough, I'll tell you that."
She reiterated that the person fans see on the screen is the same person who she is off of the screen.
"I'm a talk show host and you know that. But maybe some of you know that I was an actress. I've played a straight woman in movies. So, I'm a pretty good actress," she said. "But I don't think I'm that good that I could come out here every day for 17 years and fool you. This is me, and my intention is to always be the best person I can be. And if I've ever let someone down, if I've ever hurt their feelings, I am so sorry for that. If that's ever the case, I've let myself down and I've hurt myself, as well. Because I always try to grow as a person. I look at everything that comes into my life as an opportunity to learn."
In addition, she spoke about how she "got into this business to make people laugh and feel good."
"That's my favorite thing to do—that and Jenga. I love that game," she said. "Now, I'm a boss of 270 people—270 people who help make the show what it is. Two hundred and seventy people who I am so grateful for. All I want is for every single one of them to be happy and to be proud to work here."
DeGeneres also acknowledged how it's been "a horrible summer for people all around the world."
"People are losing their jobs. People are losing loved ones to a pandemic. People are losing their homes and lives in raging fires that are going on. There's blatant racial injustice all around us," she said. "I watch the news and I feel like, 'Where do we even begin?'"
She then expressed her hope that The Ellen DeGeneres Show "can still be a place of happiness and joy."
"I still want to be the one-hour a day that people can go to escape and laugh," she added. "I want to continue to help all the people that we help every day, and I'm committed to making this the best season that we have ever had."
DeGeneres was also joined by co-executive producer and friend Stephen "tWitch" Boss.
"The summer was a little crazy. It was intense," he said. "But, during that time, there's been a lot of learning, a lot of discussions, a lot of listening. You and I have had numerous discussions. And for me, I'm just so excited to be back here in the studio so we can do what we do best, which is bring laughter, love and fun and also lead by example by putting our best foot forward after a bounce back. So, it's all love. I'm so excited for this season."
Watch the video to see her speech.