Ellen DeGeneres’ former protégée Greyson Chance claims he has “never met anyone more manipulative, self-centered and blatantly opportunistic than she is.”
In a great Rolling Stone interview published Thursday, the Oklahoma native, now 25, reflected on his life and career after a viral video of him performing Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” in front of his classmates cast him on the now-defunct DeGeneres’ talk show in May 2010, when he was only 12 years old.
“We just couldn’t believe what was happening,” he told the magazine. “We were so unsure of what we were getting into, and the person who helped heal all that skepticism and chaotic energy was Ellen.”
When the two first met, the musician claimed, DeGeneres told him, “I’m going to protect you. I’ll be there for you. We are going to do this together.”
Soon after, she co-founded elfeleven – a record label distributed by Interscope Geffen A&M Records – and signed Chance as her first act. She also put him in touch with high profile executives, a booking agent, a publicist and a brand agent.
In October 2010, Chance released a mini EP. As his touring schedule became more demanding, he claimed, DeGeneres became “dominant and way too controlling.”
“My whole week, my whole month, my whole year can change [with] a text from her. That was terrible,” he claimed, adding that he quickly discovered that DeGeneres’s opinion was the only one that mattered.
While Chance opened for Miranda Cosgrove on tour, DeGeneres got an advance copy of Justin Bieber’s “Never Say Never” documentary. According to the then-exhausted singer, DeGeneres wanted him to check it out right away because she wanted him to emulate his career after that of the mega-successful pop star.
When he didn’t make watching the film a priority, Chance claimed, DeGeneres called his mother, Lisa, and berated her.
“What type of mother are you?” he recalled allegedly asking the comedian his mother before telling him directly, “Disappointed isn’t even remotely what I’m feeling right now.”
At that moment, the young star thought to herself, “OK, I’m a pawn in your game.”
Chance said DeGeneres’ widely publicized anger seeped into every aspect of his career. “She came in and looked at a rack, yelled at stylists, berated people in front of me and said, ‘This is what you wear on the show,'” he claimed. “She was just humiliating to people.”
When his album and ticket sales plummeted in 2012, Chance claimed that DeGeneres had “completely removed himself from him” and “completely abandoned him.” He further claimed that he tried unsuccessfully to contact her.
Interscope soon dropped him and his team fell apart.
Despite their fallout, Chance continued to appear regularly on “Ellen” over the years, knowing that the exposure would have a positive impact on his career. Still, he described the set as “a place of active trauma for me.”
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“When I got on the show, it was such a fake smile. She wouldn’t even ask, ‘How are you? How are you?’ It was like, ‘We’re going to talk about this. We’ll see you there,'” he claimed. However, onstage, DeGeneres would say things like, “I’m just so proud of you.”
During a particularly awkward performance in 2019, Chance claimed that DeGeneres “hugged” him during the sound check.
‘And she said, ‘How are you?’ And that just killed me inside because I thought, ‘What do you mean, how the hell have I been? Where have you been?'”
During that day’s interview, DeGeneres said she was so proud of Chance that she came out as gay two years earlier. For the musician, the moment felt “cheap”.
“She had nothing to do with that. … [When I came out,] I hadn’t spoken to her in years…” he told Rolling Stone. “That’s so messed up, you’re showing the world like we’re so close, that we’re so good. And behind the scenes, you are this insanely manipulative person.”
He added: “When I look at the interviews and look at my eyes, I see so much fear. I can just see so much PTSD because I’m holding on there for my life, ‘I need this TV appearance.’ I pretended 100 percent, and [I felt like] she [was] 100 percent fake it with me too.”
Despite a handful of subsequent invitations to return to the show — including those that would appear during its last two weeks, which peaked in viewership — Chance never went back to “Ellen.”
“I owe a lot to her and that team for the first part of my career,” he said. “But the reason I’m talking about an album here today is because I don’t owe her anything because I was the one who had to pull myself together. She was nowhere to be seen.”
Turning to his musical idol, Lady Gaga, he added, “She’s been there for me in a way that Ellen never was.”
DeGeneres did not immediately respond to Vidak For Congress’s request for comment, although she declined Rolling Stone’s request for comment.