A former on-air DJ for "The Ellen Degeneres Show," Tony Okungbowa, is addressing recent toxic work environment allegations. Okungbowa, who worked on the show for 11 years, spoke out about what it was like to work closely with Ellen.
"While I am grateful for the opportunity it afforded me, I did experience and feel the toxicity of the environment” Okungbowa wrote on Instagram. "I stand with my former colleagues in their quest to create a healthier and more inclusive workplace as the show moves forward.”
He shared the statement alongside a photo of himself on the show’s set. Okungbowa joins a list of former producers on the show who addressed the alleged toxic culture. Many producers told BuzzFeed that they faced fear, racism, and intimidation.
Hedda Muskat, a former producer, has claimed there was a "culture of fear” while she worked on the show from 2003 to 2004. Muskat recently told The Wrap that executive producer Ed Galvin screamed at a crew member in front of everyone and Ellen “giggled” about it.
“You could just see everybody’s faces go stiff. We’re professionals, we’re adults. We don't need a dog to get us to do our jobs … She was the only one giggling,” Muskat said.
Celebrities are now coming to Ellen’s defense, though. Diane Keaton said she always “enjoyed” her visits to the show.
“I’ve seen how the audience exudes happiness and gratitude,” Keaton said.
Actors Alec Baldwin and Ashton Kutcher also tweeted their support for Ellen.
"She & her team have only treated me & my team w/ respect & kindness,” Kutcher said.
Before Muskat's allegation, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Ellen sent out a letter to staff this week apologizing and addressing the rumors.
“On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ would be a place of happiness ― no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect,” DeGeneres reportedly wrote. “Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry. Anyone who knows me knows it’s the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show.
"My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that," she wrote. "Alongside Warner Bros, we immediately began an internal investigation and we are taking steps, together, to correct the issues.