After all, Winfrey remains the person to talk to when there is big news. The two trailblazing women, who built media empires around their talk shows, are also good friends.
“But look at [Winfrey]. She stopped and she didn’t have to do anything again, and she’s done a tremendous amount since then,” DeGeneres told THR. “So, I don’t look at this as the end at all. It’s the start of a new chapter, and hopefully, my fans will go with me wherever I go.”
In 1997, DeGeneres made a bold move that could have easily ended her career.
She came out as a gay woman.
Appearing on the cover of Time Magazine with the words, “Yep, I’m Gay,” DeGeneres was among the few major stars who openly identified as LGBTQ.
DeGeneres leaned into it, with her character Ellen Morgan on her popular sitcom “Ellen” also coming out, in an episode in which Winfrey played her therapist.
The two talked about the massive reaction DeGeneres received at the time.
“Did you expect it to turn into all of this?” Winfrey asked.
“No, no,” said DeGeneres, who was four years into her sitcom success. “I mean, I knew that it would be big, but I had no idea it would be this big.”
Conservative critics sparked a morality debate in response that led to “Ellen” being canceled after five seasons.
But DeGeneres roared back with her daytime talk show in 2003.
There was a time when DeGeneres was viewed as the heir apparent to Winfrey, whose spectacularly successful “The Oprah Winfrey Show” reigned on daytime TV from 1986 to 2011.
She’s also hosted the Academy Awards, served as a judge on “American Idol,” won plenty of awards and did a standup special for Netflix.
DeGeneres has her own approach and successes, but has remained consistent in her admiration for Winfrey over the years.
“I am, as I say all the time, I am so honored to call you a friend. You are the wisest person I know and I just adore you,” DeGeneres said in her conversation with Winfrey on Thursday.
“This is such a profound day,” Winfrey said to DeGeneres. “You’re announcing that this legacy, this part of your life, is coming to end in a year. But you and everything you represent to the world, that lives on and will grow in a way that benefits you and anyone who comes into contact with you.”