The Ellen DeDeneres Show’s former DJ, Tony Okungbowa, broke his silence on the show’s atmosphere, stating that he experienced “toxicity” on the sets too. The revelation comes at a time when dozens of former staff of the popular daytime talk show have made sexual assault allegations against its producers. Okungbowa, who served as the resident DJ on the show from 2003 to 2006 and again from 2007 to 2013, shared a picture on Instagram from his time on the show with a message of support for staff who have spoken out against the show’s toxic culture. “I have been getting calls asking me about the Ellen Degeneres Show and I would like to address the time I spent there,” Okungbowa, who also stars in US sitcom Bob Hearts, wrote. “I was on-air talent from 2003-2006 and from 2007-2013. While I am grateful for the opportunity it afforded me, I did experience and feel the toxicity of the environment and I stand with my former colleagues in their quest to create a healthier and more inclusive workplace as the show moves forward.”
Although DeGeneres has not been personally accused of mistreating her staff, there have been multiple reports from former staff and people familiar with the comedian, alleging that she is “rude” and “mean.”
Days after the sexual assault allegations against the show’s producers, the show’s staff were reportedly “freaking out.” The staff reportedly feared that the controversy surrounding Ellen could result in “the show shutting down, Ellen quitting or worse the show and the host getting canceled.” Sources familiar with the inside culture of the show have said that the team is concerned that allegations of a toxic work environment could force Ellen to quit.
A source, while talking to the US Weekly, said: “Staffers are texting and calling each other freaking out as they fear Ellen [DeGeneres] will quit or that the show will be canceled. The show feels done. It’s going to be very hard to turn this around.”
A Telepictures insider reportedly told the Daily Mail that Ellen is telling executives at Telepictures and Warner Bros that she has had enough of allegations of rude behavior made against her and that she wants to walk away from the show. “She feels she can’t go on and the only way to recover her personal brand from this is to shut down the show,” they said. “The truth is she knew what was going on, it’s her show. The buck stops with her. She can blame every executive under the sun – but Ellen is ultimately the one to blame.”
The speculation came as staff at the show hit back at the comedian for attempting to shift the blame to her executive producers in an apology memo released this week. One staffer told the outlet: “Don’t think for a minute anything she has said in that apology means anything. She created and then enabled this toxic culture to go on for so long. If anyone had come to her or those three vile [executive producers] to complain, they would’ve been fired.”
The show, however, on August 4 quelled the rumors and announced that Ellen would continue to present the show for another season, which is set to begin in September this year.