Ellen DeGeneres protege Grayson Chance rips the ‘manipulative’ comedian

Ellen DeGeneres’ former protégé Grayson Chance claims he’s “never met anyone more manipulative, more self-centered and more blatantly opportunistic than her.”

In a bomb Interview for Rolling Stone posted 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 landed him on the now-defunct talk show to DeGeneres in May 2010, when she was just 12 years old.

“We just couldn’t believe what was happening,” he told the magazine. “We were so unsure of what we were getting ourselves into, and the person who helped us heal all that skepticism and chaotic energy was Ellen.”

When the two first met, the musician claims, DeGeneres told him, “I’m going to protect you. I’ll be here for you. We will do this together.”

Grayson Chance and Ellen DeGeneres
Ellen DeGeneres breakout star Grayson Chance ripped the comedian in an interview published Thursday.
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Soon after, she founded eleveneleven—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 managers, 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 domineering and too controlling.”

“My whole week, my whole month, my whole year can change [with] a text message from her. It was terrible,” he claims, adding that he quickly learned that DeGeneres’ opinions were the only ones that mattered.

Grayson Chance
Chance claims DeGeneres is “manipulative,” “self-centered” and “blatantly opportunistic.”
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While Chance was opening for Miranda Cosgrove on tour, DeGeneres got an advance copy of Justin Bieber’s documentary Never Say Never. According to the singer, who was admittedly exhausted at the time, DeGeneres wanted him to watch him right away because he wanted him to emulate his career after that of the mega-successful pop star.

When he didn’t make watching the movie a priority, Chance claims, DeGeneres called his mother, Lisa, and berated her.

Ellen DeGeneres
He claimed to Rolling Stone that she “became overbearing and too controlling” after she signed him in 2010.
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“What kind of mom are you?” he recalled hearing the comedian ask his mother, before she told him directly, “Disappointment isn’t even what I’m feeling right now.”

At that point, the young star thought, “Okay, I’m a pawn in your game.”

Chance said DeGeneres’ rumored anger permeated every aspect of his career. “She would come in and look at a trunk, yell at stylists, berate people in front of me and say, ‘This is what you’re wearing in the show,'” he claimed. “She was just degrading to people.”

When his album and ticket sales plummeted in 2012, Chance claimed that DeGeneres “completely distanced herself” from him and “completely abandoned him.” He also claims that he tried to contact her to no avail.

Interscope soon dropped him and his team disbanded.

Despite their failure, Chance continued to appear on Ellen periodically over the years, knowing the positive impact the exposure would have on his career. Still, he described the set as “a place of active trauma for me.”


When his album sales and ticket sales dropped, Chance said DeGeneres “completely left him.”

Warner Bros.


When his album sales and ticket sales dropped, Chance said DeGeneres “completely left him.”

Warner Bros.

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“Every time I came on the show, the smile was so fake. She didn’t even ask, “How are you? How do you feel?’ It was just like, “Here’s what we’re going to talk about. See you there,” he said. Onstage, however, DeGeneres said things like, “I’m just proud of you.”

During a particularly awkward appearance in 2019, Chance claimed that DeGeneres “hugged” him during a soundcheck.

“And she said, ‘How are you?’ And it just killed me inside because I was like, ‘What do you mean how the hell have I been? Where is there you been?’”

Grayson Chance
Despite being a “site of active trauma,” he has continued to appear on her show over the years.
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During the interview that day, DeGeneres said she was so proud of Chance that she came out as gay two years ago. For the musician, the moment seemed “cheap”.

“She had nothing to do with it. … [When I came out,] I hadn’t spoken to her in years…,” he told Rolling Stone. “It’s so messed up that now you’re showing the world like we’re so tight, we’re so good. And behind the scenes you are this insanely manipulative person.

He added: “When I watch the interviews and look at my eyes, I see so much anxiety. I see so much PTSD because I’m holding on for dear life and I’m like, “I need this TV gig.” I pretended to be 100 percent and [I felt like] she [was] 100 percent simulating with me too.”

Ellen DeGeneres
Chance said he finally cut ties with DeGeneres after a particularly “cheap” remark during an appearance in 2019.
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Despite a handful of subsequent invitations to return to the show — including one to appear in its final two weeks, with peak ratings — Chance never returned to “Ellen.”

“For the first part of my career, I owe a lot of thanks to her and to this team,” he said. “But the reason I’m here today talking about an album is because I don’t owe her anything because I was the one who had to stand up. She was nowhere to be found.

As for his musical idol, Lady Gaga, he added: “She was there for me in a way that Ellen never was.”

DeGeneres did not immediately respond to Page Six’s request for comment, though she declined Rolling Stone’s request for comment.


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