Former teen pop star Greyson Chance has claimed that he was “controlled” then “completely abandoned” by Ellen DeGeneres after she made him a star.
Chance was just 12 years old when he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show after a video of him singing Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” went viral online in 2010.
In a new report by Rolling Stone, Chance has said that while DeGeneres presented herself as his guardian and mentor to take his career forward, things were not as they seemed.
“We were so unsure of what we were getting into, and the person that helped cure all of that skepticism and chaotic energy was Ellen… I remember her pulling my mom aside and saying, ‘You’re never going to have to work again a day in your life,’” he recalled.
DeGeneres gave him $10,000 (£9,100) and a new piano and later signed him as the first act on her record label eleveneleven, allegedly telling Chance: “I’m going to protect you. I’m going to be here for you. We’re going to do this together.”
Initially, Chance said, DeGeneres was “really invested” in him. But as his schedule got busier, she “became domineering and way too controlling” and began to feel like a “hidden eye” over his career, deciding what he wore and his creative output.
“My whole week, my whole month, my whole year could change [with] one text message from her,” he said. “That was horrible… If she had an opinion of any sort, the whole thing changed.
“She would come in and look at a rack [of clothes], yell at stylists, berate people in front of me and say, ‘This is what you’re wearing on the show.’ She was just degrading to people.”
In one incident, Chance had been exhausted from touring and hadn’t had time to watch an advanced copy of Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never documentary obtained for him by DeGeneres.
As a result, Degeneres allegedly called Chance’s mother, with the singer recalling: “I’ll never forget this. I just remember hearing on the other side of the phone, just yelling [and] beratement, ‘What type of mother are you? Do you realise that I went out of my way to get this for you, and he can’t sit down and watch it?’”
When DeGeneres next spoke to Chance, she allegedly told him that “disappointed isn’t even remotely what I’m feeling right now”.
“It was clear that, ‘OK, I’m a pawn in your game.’ So I watched the movie,” he said.
According to Chance, DeGeneres totally disappeared when his music began to underperform and “completely abandoned him” when his second record flopped in late 2012.
When he was dropped by his label group and management team, he reached out to DeGeneres but allegedly never heard back. Throughout this, he still appeared on Ellen.
“I couldn’t get ahold of her. Couldn’t talk to her,” he said. “Whenever I would come on the show, it was such a fake smile. 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.’”
He returned to the show twice more. In 2015, DeGeneres claimed on screen to be “so proud” of the then-18-year-old but allegedly didn’t speak to him behind the scenes.
He came back in 2019, recalling: “She came out during soundcheck and she looked at me, hugged me. And she said, ‘How have you been?’ And that just killed me inside because I was like, ‘What do you mean how have I f***ing been? Where have you been?”
DeGeneres praised Chance for coming out as gay two years before, with Chance saying: “I hadn’t spoken to her in years. 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.
“When I look at the interviews and I look at my eyes, I can see so much anxiety. I can just see so much PTSD because I’m there holding on for dear life going, ‘I need this TV gig.’ I was 100 per cent faking it, and [I felt like] she’s 100 per cent faking it with me, too.”
“I’ve never met someone more manipulative, more self-centred, and more blatantly opportunistic than her.”
The Independent has contacted DeGeneres’s representatives for comment.
Earlier this year, DeGeneres’s talk show came to an end after 19 seasons and more than 3,000 episodes.
In 2020, the show found itself the subject of an investigation into allegations of workplace sexual misconduct, racism and bullying on set.
DeGeneres said at the time that the allegations were “too orchestrated” and “very misogynistic”.