Ellen DeGeneres on finding herself and the ‘turning point’

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Los Angeles – Talented comedian-host Ellen DeGeneres, who is doing the voice of Dory in Pixar’s latest animation “Finding Dory,” opened up to us on finding herself, knowing her strengths, the turning point in her career and what she learned from her parents.

She said, “I just recently found myself (and) I think I am still finding myself. And I am sure as I get older I will find more parts of myself as we change constantly I hope, because if we stay the same, that’s boring.

“But I have had a very interesting journey, much like Dory’s, and so just like Dory, I just keep swimming. It’s an important thing for everybody to do in life and so I just keep learning about myself and finding out what home is to me.”

Ellen said she is “happy” with the film, finding it “so complex and the messaging is so great.”

“I love that Dory’s disability turns into a strength that all of a sudden it’s ‘What would Dory do’ and instead of making fun of the fact that she can’t remember, it’s actually the best thing about her.”

For the comedian-host, the turning point in her life when both her career and personal life changed happened in the last decade.

She revealed, “My life really changed massively in the last eight years for sure. To start a career at 45-years-old and to be a woman in this business is a rarity. I am an endangered species. So to start the talk show at 45 was a big turning point for me but it wasn’t a hit. It was kind of medium. It wasn’t instant. It’s a culmination of a lot of different things. But certainly hosting the Oscars, the last time I did it was a big moment, the selfie and the pizza and all the things that came together. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger and I love it.”

So after 13 years since she last did the voice of Dory, when did she find her inner Dory again, we asked.

“Well I was surprised that it actually happened,” she confessed. “But on my show, almost weekly I would berate them and bully them to, and really it was just a joke and after about five years I gave up. I thought for sure we would have a sequel because it was an Academy Award winning movie and it was an iconic movie. It was a great movie and they made ‘Toy Story 2’ and ‘Toy Story 3’ and I thought there would be another Nemo. But then when I got the call, I was shocked – and then I was more shocked that it was actually about Dory’s journey.”

Ellen continued: “Then as far as going to the studio, I was a little nervous about Dory still being and having that voice, because even though it’s me, I kind of tweak it a little bit, but it came right back. Time is a very strange thing. No matter where you are in life, you just think, oh this is it forever. Then all of a sudden, years go by and you look back and it was just a blip. So it came right back to me.”

In the movie, the lessons that Dory learned from her parents resonated and stayed with her all those years despite her short-term memory. So what lessons that her parents instilled in her still resonates? “I don’t know, that is an interesting question,” she confessed. “My parents divorced when I was younger and they both were very different personalities.”

“My dad is a wonderful man but he has a lot of fear. He is very much like Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks). And so he is overprotective with me and, really, didn’t want me (to move) too much because I could hurt myself. He always didn’t want me to be nice all the time and quiet and not really argue or speak my opinion about anything. So imagine his challenge of having an openly gay child. He is very accepting of it and very supportive. He is a great guy, but the opposite of who he is.

“And my mother is really strong, really sarcastic, sassy and has been through a lot. So I think I learned, some of the things you learn in life what not to be.

“I didn’t want to be fearful with my dad and he is a wonderful man but I wanted to take chances. I wanted to risk a lot of things. So I learned that I didn’t want to be fearful. And with my mom, she is a really tough woman and she is really strong. I learned how to be a tough woman and really strong.”

And what keeps her young?

“It’s just who I am,” she replied. “I am just really exactly who I am. I don’t really want to try to pretend that I am anything other than this. And I think sometimes people grow up feeling you are supposed to fit some kind of form and what society says a 58-year-old woman is supposed to look like, dress like, act like and I think a lot of us just fall into that and become what we think we are supposed to become. I just never did. I never want to and I don’t care that people know that I am 58 because I think it’s just a number. I think your spirit is what your real age is and your energy level.”

How did your sense of humor help you go through your complicated life, we asked Ellen.

“I don’t want to go into detail but I had a very interesting childhood and a lot of things weren’t said. I think a lot of people, especially growing up in the early ’60s, a lot of families, they just don’t say what is really happening. And so I, as a comedian, noticed all the things in-between what people were saying and I noticed that the silences were what’s really happening and not the words. I looked at the in-between and I looked at, if you use the metaphor, if you look at a painting, and the tiny strokes. It’s not the broad strokes. It’s the little tiny details that make up something.

“So as a comedian, I think that is where it came from, as observing things and seeing that the absurdity is the humor and that people should just pay attention to how ridiculous it is that we all ignore what is really happening.”

Credits: Janet Nepales, Manila Bulletin

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About the Writer

Janet Susan R. Nepales

Janet Susan R. Nepales is an award-winning journalist who is the first and only Filipina member of the prestigious Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) that produces the Golden Globe awards annually. A member of the Los Angeles Press Club, Janet has received awards from the Los Angeles Press Club in the Best Columnist – International category for 2012, 2013 and 2014. Janet has a regular weekly column in Manila Bulletin entitled, “Hollywood Bulletin,” and is a regular Los Angeles correspondent of GMA-7 TV Network. She has been chosen by the Filipina Women’s Network (FWN) as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in 2012 and one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina in the World in 2013. The Los Angeles-based journalist also co-authored the first book published by the Filipina Women’s Network entitled, “Disrupt.” She is married to journalist-author Ruben V. Nepales and has two daughters --- Bianca Nicole and Rafaella Angelica.

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