Ellen DeGeneres allegedly bullied an 11-year-old boy, calling him “fat” and telling him to “lose weight, chunky boy.”
Ben Gravolet said that Ellen worked for his mother in her home state of Louisiana in the 1970s when she was 20 and he was 11. He would sometimes visit his mother at work, and that’s when Ellen allegedly bullied him.
“I would dread going to her office to see her after school or on a day if I was sick and Ellen was there,” Gravolet told the Daily Mail. “She would criticize my weight. I would try to do homework in the office, she’d call me stupid, she’d call me fat. She would criticize my clothes.”
“I was just a boy and this was a grown woman who took pleasure in seeing me become visibly upset.”
“One incident stands out in my mind,” Gravolet, 52, said in the interview. “I was sitting beside her desk. I was drawing, and she criticized the drawings. She said, ‘I guess that would look nice if you could draw.'”
He said that Ellen “was just the meanest, nastiest, most horrible person” and that he was bothered by “her meteoric rise to fame” since she was allegedly so mean to him.
“People would say how great she was and all I could think was she must be an incredible actor because she was one of the most vile people I’ve ever met in my life. Who takes pleasure in giving a child pain?” he said, adding that she “hoards power over those that are lesser than her” to feel in control and “superior.”
Gravolet’s mother Tana Robinson confirmed that Ellen worked for her at the time and she said that Ellen was “extremely rude” but that her son never told her about the bullying until this year as allegations of abusive behavior about Ellen and her show have come out.
“I think I probably fired her,” Robinson said. “Had I known that was going on, I’d have punched her and then fired her.”
“A horrible person does that to an 11-year-old boy. I can’t even put myself in the shoes of someone at that age that dislikes children so much or whose ego is so low that she has to smash a child to feel good about herself.”
Ellen has faced a lot of bad publicity this past year as rumors were spread on social media that she is mean to people who work for her. Then former staffers started speaking to journalists, saying that The Ellen DeGeneres Show is a toxic workplace where more senior staffers make racist and sexual comments to workers in lower positions. The show allegedly has no formal process for anonymous complaints and staffers are expected to suffer through it because they’re working on a successful TV show.
“They hire people who maybe are inexperienced with how a functional, nontoxic work environment actually is,” said a former employee, “or someone who just wants to be in that atmosphere so bad that they’ll put up with it. They kind of feed off of that, like, ‘This is Ellen; this is as good as it gets. You’ll never find anything better than this.’”
Gravolet said that he feels “vindicated” now that the accusations are coming out.
“I don’t take pleasure in seeing this happen to her now but at least it makes me feel like I wasn’t the problem and I feel vindicated,” he said.
“Leopards don’t change their spots.”