Ellen DeGeneres returned to the studio for her talk show’s Season 18 premiere, and she was joined by an enormous elephant in the room.
As seen in the video above — released ahead of the full episode’s syndicated broadcast on Monday — DeGeneres opened the season by acknowledging recent allegations of bullying and toxic workplace culture at the daytime series, which had prompted an internal investigation by parent company WarnerMedia over the summer.
“I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously, and I want to say I am so sorry to the people that were affected,” DeGeneres began, echoing a previous letter she sent to her crew after the allegations surfaced. “I know that I’m in a position of privilege and power, and I realize that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show. This is The Ellen DeGeneres Show. I am Ellen DeGeneres.”
Though she didn’t offer many behind-the-scenes details, DeGeneres added that “we have made the necessary changes” to the show, and “today, we are starting a new chapter.”
The host went on to address specific rumors about her off-screen behavior, which allegedly does not align with her on-screen persona and “Be kind to one another” sign-off.
“The truth is, I am that person that you see on TV. I am also a lot of other things,” she explained. “Sometimes I get sad. I get mad. I get anxious. I get frustrated. I get impatient. And I am working on all of that. I am a work in progress… I don’t think I’m that good [of an actress] that I could come out here every day for 17 years and fool you. This is me, and my intention is to always be the best person I can be. And if I’ve ever let someone down, if I’ve ever hurt their feelings, I’m so sorry for that.”
During the summer, a series of bombshell reports from Variety and BuzzFeed brought the show’s workplace culture to light, with former employees citing everything from racist comments made by senior producers to staffers getting fired for taking time off to attend family funerals. The show ultimately fired executive producers Ed Glavin, Kevin Leman and Jonathan Norman, all of whom were named in the allegations. Meanwhile, many of DeGeneres’ celebrity pals — including Modern Family‘s Sofia Vergara, comedian Kevin Hart and fellow daytime personality Steve Harvey — came to her defense.