In a new interview with Rolling Stone, singer-songwriter Greyson Chance opens up about his traumatic experiences working with Ellen Degeneres over the years, saying of the TV personality: “I’ve never met someone more manipulative, more self-centered, and more blatantly opportunistic than her.”
At 12 years old, Chance became a national sensation after a video went viral of him performing Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” at school. In the wake of Justin Bieber‘s success, music industry execs were scouring the internet for untapped talent, and Chance was exactly that when Degeneres and her team asked him to guest on her daytime The Ellen Degeneres Show in 2010.
Needless to say, the first years were a whirlwind for the young musician. Inspired by Chance’s success on the show, Degeneres launched the eleveneleven record label, signing him as her first artist. As he recalls from those early days, the host was “really invested” in his career—to the point that she “became domineering and way too controlling.”
Throughout the confessional interview, Chance details the shocking ways Degeneres attempted to take the reins on his life, like the time she called up his mother, Lisa, and berated her for not making him watch Bieber’s documentary, Never Say Never, while on tour.
“My whole week, my whole month, my whole year could change [with] one text message from her,” explains Chance. “That was horrible.”
But things started to change when Chance’s career slowed down. He claims Degeneres “completely removed” herself from his life when his second project on her label bombed. He was quickly dropped by Interscope (which distributed music for the eleveneleven label) and claims his whole management team disappeared soon after.
“I couldn’t get ahold of her. Couldn’t talk to her,” he says.
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Though Chance would appear on The Ellen Degeneres Show a number of times over the years, he says that the mood had entirely shifted from their earliest interactions. The musician’s account dovetails with a number of allegations lobbed against Degeneres in 2020 from former employees who claimed the host presided over a “toxic work environment.”
Speaking with Rolling Stone, Chance’s mother shares her view of Degeneres’ work ethic and role in her son’s career: “I think that Ellen is a businesswoman. And if something isn’t trending the way she wants it to, she’s going to put an end to it because it’s business for her. It’s not warm and fuzzy.”
“I don’t think she invited people to be a part of her life or take someone under their wing like she did if she didn’t want to see something come of it. If it wasn’t moving fast enough for her, that’s when she started to shut down or shut us out.”
In the years since working with Degeneres, Chance came out as gay and has continued releasing music, having last visited her show in 2019. Though he was invited to guest on the final weeks of The Ellen Degeneres Show earlier this year, the musician declined. As he see it, the program was a “place of active trauma for me.”
“The first part of my career, I owe a lot of thanks to her and to that team,” Chance says. “But the reason why I’m here today talking about an album, I owe f*cking nothing to her. Because I was the one that had to pull myself up. She was nowhere to be found.”
Coinciding with the arrival of his brand-new, third studio album, Palladium, Chance took to Instagram to detail why now was the right time to get this off his chest:
“Writing this album forced me to look dead in the eyes of my past, and reconcile with everything I went through as a kid. I feel a tremendous weight off of my shoulders now that the truth is out. Thank you to [Rolling Stone and Tomás Mier] who helped me take this step & tell my story honestly and whole-heartedly.”