Ellen DeGeneres isn’t ready to throw her support behind a single Democratic presidential candidate to face off with Donald Trump, but she hints that she may be leaning toward one. DeGeneres told Variety that although she remains mostly apolitical on her talk show and in her standup, she’ll definitely be involved in the 2020 campaign.
“I care deeply about our country and what’s happening to it,” she said Thursday at Raleigh Studios, where Netflix held an Emmy campaign event for her standup special “Relatable.” “And the world, the environment and everything that’s going on. I have my opinions. I try not to bring it in. I’m not a political comedian. I’m political but I’m not the kind of person that’s going to talk about politics in standup. But I definitely think that we need a change, and we’ll figure out who that person is. I’m going to wait and see who ends up getting everybody’s vote and we’ll see who I get behind… I kind of have a candidate but I’m just going to wait.”
Even though she doesn’t get specifically political on her show, DeGeneres has invited several candidates on to discuss their plans, including Pete Buttigieg and Cory Booker.
Another issue that DeGeneres has supported is the boycott of hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei in response to the persecution of LGBTQ people in his country. George Clooney, who led the charge to boycott businesses such as the Beverly Hills Hotel, cheered the Sultan’s recent moratorium of the death penalty against those convicted of engaging in gay sexual acts. But Clooney has kept the boycott in place as homosexuality is still criminalized in that country.
And as DeGeneres noted, it goes beyond just the leader: “It’s the banks, it’s the people that put the money up to give him money to get these hotels and businesses,” she said. “So we do have to continue to boycott. It’s a frightening thing that just being yourself is illegal in certain countries and that you can get killed for it. It makes me sad for all the people that live in those countries. It makes me sad that other people have those opinions about myself, that there’s something wrong with me just because I love someone. So we need to have voices and make decisions to not support hotels and places like that.”
Meanwhile, addressing a magazine feature last December that suggested she might be considering an end to the syndicated “Ellen DeGeneres Show,” the host said she “was surprised to hear that everyone was speculating that I was leaving the show and not going to continue. But that’s not the case.”
DeGeneres admitted that it’s tiring to produce a daily talk show, especially because “we try to make it a show that would compete in primetime, late night, anything. I don’t want it to be necessarily a ‘daytime show.’ I want it to be a really great show that anyone would watch. That’s what’s tiring. If I just wanted to skate through it, it would be different. I work really hard every day and it’s a lot every day.
“I don’t know how long the show is going to go and what I’m going to feel in a few years,” she added. “I don’t know.”
“Relatable” was DeGeneres’ first TV standup special in 15 years — having been focused on her talk show for most of that time. Later, in a Q&A on stage with Jimmy Kimmel, DeGeneres said she’d be willing to do another one: “I do love it and will do it again, just not full-time. It’s a hard life.”
DeGeneres said she agreed to do the Netflix special, before even coming up with a new routine, because of her life philosophy to do things that scare you. “I wanted to do standup to scare me again, to be creative,” she said.
The comedian said she even considered giving her Netflix check back to chief content officer Ted Sarandos — twice. “I kept saying, ‘I don’t have anything to talk about,'” she said. “And then a year-and-a-half later, it all came to me.”