As The Ellen DeGeneres Show is under investigation over accusations of a toxic workplace culture, one prominent cast member has finally come out with his thoughts. So far, much of the reporting about the daytime talk show’s work culture has come from anonymous sources. BuzzFeed‘s bombshell piece came from interviews with one current and 10 former employees, all of whom chose to remain anonymous. Stars like Katy Perry, Jerry O’Connell and DeGeneres’ wife Portia de Rossi came out to defend DeGeneres (via Newsweek).
However, as Crazy Ex-Girlfriend star Rachel Bloom noted on Twitter, celebrities get very different treatment on talk shows than employees do. Now that Ellen’s former DJ is speaking out about his experiences, doors might be opening for other Ellen staff to go on the record, especially as the staff goes back to work on production this week (via Us Weekly).
DJ Tony speaks out about his time on Ellen
Tony Okungbowa helmed the DJ Booth on The Ellen DeGeneres Show for years, where he was known as DJ Tony (via People). He left in 2013, and now stars in the CBS sitcom Bob Hearts Abishola. On Wednesday, August 4, Okungbowa posted a throwback photo of his DJ days on Instagram, with a caption addressing the current controversy. “…I have been getting calls asking me about the Ellen Degeneres Show and I would like to address the time I spent there. 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,” Okungbowa wrote.
While one fan commented asking whether the abuse had come from Ellen herself, Okungbowa didn’t reply. The BuzzFeed report included alleged abuse and racism toward staff, including a joke from a senior producer that two Black people looked alike. Earlier this year, the show came under fire for failing to communicate to its staff how and whether they would be paid during the coronavirus pandemic (via Variety).
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