Greyson Chance Spills Tea on 'Queen of Mean' Ellen DeGeneres

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday September 23, 2022

Greyson Chance
Greyson Chance  (Source:Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Ellen DeGeneres launched Greyson Chance on his music career, but then, Chance says, "abandoned" him — though she still cozied up to him on TV. Now he's spilling some serious tea on the comedian.

"Back in 2010, when the singer-songwriter was in sixth grade, he became an overnight sensation after a video of his middle school performance of Lady Gaga's 'Paparazzi' went viral on YouTube," Entertainment Weekly said. "The clip caught the attention of DeGeneres, who invited him onto her daytime talk show, introduced him to industry executives, and signed him to her record label, all within the same year."

But then Chance's debut EP debuted to a lackluster response — and Ellen's attitude toward the young musician also cooled, according to Chance, who spoke to Rolling Stone about his relationship with DeGeneres.

"This is the first time I've been honest about her," Chance, now 25, told Rolling Stone in his interview with the magazine, "and this is the last time I want to talk about it."

If this is the one and only time he chooses to discuss his alleged experiences with DeGeneres, the young singer at least didn't mince any words, telling Rolling Stone: "I've never met someone more manipulative, more self-centered, and more blatantly opportunistic than her."

That view is starkly different from how the talkshow host and groundbreaking gay icon appeared at first. "We were so unsure of what we were getting into," Chance recalled of the time when a video of his performance ended up garnering Ellen's attention, "and the person that helped cure all of that skepticism and chaotic energy was Ellen." The comic portrayed herself as a mentor at first: "I'm going to protect you. I'm going to be here for you. We're going to do this together," he recalled her telling him.

"By the time Chance got on 'Ellen' the day after his arrival in L.A., the celebrated TV host who preached about kindness had already conquered daytime television, hitting all-time highs in her show's ratings," Rolling Stone noted. "She had recently started a judging gig on 'American Idol' and branched out into a previously unexplored entertainment avenue: the music business. The viral 'Paparazzi' kid was the perfect start."

Ellen not only rewarded Chance with a piano and a $10,000 check, she created a record label to sign him to, then shepherded him through the process of becoming a star. She set him up with an agent, a publicist, and managers, Rolling Stone recounted.

"DeGeneres increasingly became 'really invested' in the singer, he says," Rolling Stone narrated. "But she also 'became domineering and way too controlling.'"

As Ellen's grip on his fledgling career tightened, "My whole week, my whole month, my whole year could change [with] one text message from her," Chance said, calling the experience "horrible."

"There was one time, he says, DeGeneres was sent a video of a scheduled performance for a different network. She didn't like what she saw, he says, and made him and his team redo the entire thing," Rolling Stone reported.

"If she had an opinion of any sort, the whole thing changed," Chance told the music publication, going on to allege that DeGeneres "berated" him for not watching a documentary about Justin Bieber — whose career, evidently, the comedian saw as a template for Chance to follow.

Ellen's control over Chance's career extended to his wardrobe, the article said, with Chance saying that Ellen "would go through his clothes" and telling Rolling Stone that he was "never allowed to wear leather, due to DeGeneres' commitment to veganism at the time."

"She would come in and look at a rack, yell at stylists, berate people in front of me and say, 'This is what you're wearing on the show,'" Chance related. "She was just degrading to people."

Then Chance's star began to wane. As album and ticket sales ebbed, Rolling Stone reported, "The once-controlling savior who Chance says had promised him and his family the world became 'completely removed.'"

When his sophomore album "tanked, he says, the TV host 'completely abandoned' him."

"Interscope soon dropped him and key people on his team, including his agent, publicist, and management team disappeared. Chance says he tried calling DeGeneres and never heard back."

Chance held on, returning to Ellen's programs a few times, but "Whenever I would come on the show, it was such a fake smile," he told Rolling Stone. "She wouldn't even ask, 'How are you doing? How are you holding up?' It was just like, 'Here's what we're going to talk about. We'll see you on there.'"

Even his appearances on Ellen's show ended on a sour note, EW said. "Reflecting on his final appearance on the show, Chance described the studio as a 'place of active trauma' and slammed DeGeneres for discussing his sexuality during their interview."

"Chance came out as gay in 2017," EW said.

Rolling Stone ran Chance's story by a former employee of Ellen's daytime talk show, "who worked on the show during Chance's rise and was fired after a year."

"DeGeneres was 'manipulative and opportunistic,' and that working with her was a 'wake-up call to not always follow the money,'" the source told Rolling Stone. They added "that their experience working on the show 'was literally hell.'"

At the time of his coming out, "I hadn't spoken to her in years," Chance said, according to EW. "That's so messed up, that you're now showing the world as if we're so tight. We're so good. And behind the scenes, you are this insanely manipulative person."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.