Audiences fondly remember Greyson Chance as the precocious middle-schooler who was featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show after his in-school performance of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” went viral. But in a new interview, Chance made it clear that he does not share that fondness.
Speaking with Rolling Stone, Chance opened up for the first time about his relationship with DeGeneres, claiming that the television mogul — who went on to make him the first signee to her record label eleveneleven shortly after his 2010 appearance on her show — was a domineering presence for much of his early career. “I’ve never met someone more manipulative, more self-centered, and more blatantly opportunistic than her,” he said.
The star says that after his appearance on the daytime talk show, DeGeneres “became domineering and way too controlling” about his image, nixing entire performances when she saw videos of the sets that she didn’t approve of. “If she had an opinion of any sort, the whole thing changed,” he recalled.
On one occasion, he said, she became obsessed with getting him to watch the Justin Bieber documentary Never Say Never as research into how to guide his career. Chance recalled a phone conversation in which she reportedly said, “‘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.
As Chance’s career began to wane, so did DeGeneres’s interest, he alleged. When his second album Truth Be Told, Part 1 underperformed, he was dropped from his Interscope distribution deal, and the managers, agents and publicists DeGeneres had set him up with quickly followed suit. Feeling “completely abandoned,” Chance said that DeGeneres would no longer return his phone calls. “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.”
Chance later went on to retire from music before ultimately returning in 2019 with his album Portraits. In one final appearance on DeGeneres’ show, the star says that he was mortified by how unphased the host appeared to be about their past, and how eager she was to congratulate him on publicly coming out.
“She said, ‘How have you been?’ And that just killed me inside because I was like, ’What do you mean how have I f–king been? Where have you been?'” he recalls. “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.”
Billboard has reached out to DeGeneres’ team for comment.
Chance is far from the only person to publicly speak out about DeGeneres’ alleged poor behind-the-scenes behavior. In 2020, many former crew members of The Ellen DeGeneres Show came forward accusing the host of toxic behavior when comedian Kevin T. Porter posted a tweet asking for examples of the host being mean, eventually miring DeGeneres in near-constant controversy.
Meanwhile, Chance just released his new album Palladium (out now via Lowly), which he described as being about “protecting your instinct, your heart, your soul, and making sure that that’s your priority.”
Look back on one of his moments on The Ellen DeGeneres Show below: