It Gets Messier

Kevin Hart comes to Ellen’s defense; former show DJ Tony Okungbowa calls out toxicity

Kevin Hart, Ellen DeGeneres

As the controversy over the behavior of Ellen DeGeneres and the workplace environment of her eponymous show continues, two more stars have lent their voices to the debate: Kevin Hart and the show’s former DJ Tony Okungbowa.

Hart took to Instagram with a thoughtful message in defense of DeGeneres. “It’s crazy to see my friend go thru what she’s going thru publicly,” Hart wrote. “I have known Ellen for years and I can honestly say that she’s one of the dopest people on the fucking planet. She has treated my family and my team with love and respect from day 1. The internet has become a crazy world of negativity….we are falling in love with peoples down fall. It’s honestly sad…When did we get here?”

Related: Kevin Hart finally seems to understand why LGBTQ people were mad at him, says “I did f*ck up”

“I stand by the ones that I know and that I love,” Hart continued. “Looking forward to the future where we get back to loving one another….this hate shit has to stop. Hopefully it goes out of style soon….This post is not meant to disregard the feelings of others and their experiences….It’s simply to show what my experiences have been with my friend. Love you for life Ellen…”

View this post on Instagram

It’s crazy to see my friend go thru what she’s going thru publicly. I have known Ellen for years and I can honestly say that she’s one of the dopest people on the fucking planet. She has treated my family and my team with love and respect from day 1. The internet has become a crazy world of negativity….we are falling in love with peoples down fall. It’s honestly sad…When did we get here? I stand by the ones that I know and that I love. Looking forward to the future where we get back to loving one another….this hate shit has to stop. Hopefully it goes out of style soon….This post is not meant to disregard the feelings of others and their experiences….It’s simply to show what my experiences have been with my friend. Love you for life Ellen…

A post shared by Kevin Hart (@kevinhart4real) on

It’s worth noting that DeGeneres came to the aid of Hart during the controversy over his homophobic jokes in 2019. The backlash prompted Hart to resign as host of the Academy Awards, though DeGeneres conducted an interview with Hart in hopes of his reclaiming the job. It didn’t work, and DeGeneres endured criticism for her choice to conduct the interview.

Tony Okungbowa, former DJ for The Ellen DeGeneres Show, also opened up via Instagram, though with a much different story. “Hey Guys,
I hope you are all keeping safe out there during these trying times,” he wrote. “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 did not provide any further details than his confirmation of the toxic work environment.

Ellen DeGeneres has come under a recent firestorm of criticism both for personal behavior and, in particular, for a toxic environment on the set of her talk show. Former employees have reported incidents of sexual harassment, hostility by producers and even racism on the set of the show, while DeGeneres herself has been labeled “cold” by a former bodyguard. DeGeneres penned an apology to former employees, though the gesture did little to extinguish the controversy.

An investigation into the conduct and working conditions of The Ellen DeGeneres Show by Warner Media, the parent company of the show’s distributor, remains ongoing.