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On dealing with rejection in Hollywood after she came out as a lesbian in 1997:
"I didn't work, didn't have any money. No one [in the business] would even talk to me on the phone."
DeGeneres's own family was more understanding when she came out at age 18.
"If anything, it was a shock to me. I'd always known that I had crushes on girls, but I also liked boys—though I wasn't drawn to them romantically. For me to get in touch with myself enough to recognize that I was gay, and then not to stay private about it, was a huge step."
She finally convinced Hollywood that she was "not just gay," she says, but "a funny woman who happens to be gay."
To the execs who passed on her show because "they thought housewives and mothers would have nothing to relate to," DeGeneres has a message, backed up by eight years of success: "The only person the word gay matters to is the person I love."
On Portia de Rossi, whom DeGeneres wed at their Beverly Hills home in the summer of 2008:
"We just really love each other's company," says DeGeneres. (And if you're wondering whether they'll have kids, the answer is no. "We thought about it," DeGeneres writes in her new book Seriously … I'm Kidding. "We love to be around children after they've been fed and bathed. But we ultimately decided that we don't want children of our own. There is far too much glass in our house.")
On her decision to leave "American Idol" after just one season:
"It was hard for me to judge people and sometimes hurt their feelings," she said at the time. But there was also some nastiness behind the scenes that she found off-putting. "It was disappointing to hear things about the kids, the drama going on. Some of them are not as grateful as you would expect. All of a sudden they have fan mail, millions of people saying they're great, and some of them just stop appreciating it."
On her syndicated show, which has won 35 daytime Emmys, and had its best season-premiere week ever in September:
"The world is filled with negativity. I want people to watch me and think, 'I feel good, and I'm going to make somebody else feel good today.'"
On the void she's filling since Oprah's departure:
"I think we'll get a new audience that maybe didn't watch me because they only watched Oprah, and they have a void now. But it's the same goal whether we have 10 people or 10 million people watching. If we adjust in any way, it's so we can top ourselves."
Be sure to check out this weekend's issue of Parade magazine in your local newspaper for the full interview with Ellen DeGeneres.