It’s January 2020, and Nikkie de Jager – known to many by her YouTube username NikkieTutorials – is appearing as a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. And on air, it seems as though she is getting on well with the host, who seemingly has sympathy for the ordeal the makeup artist has been through. In fact, there’s little to hint at the controversy to come when de Jager comes clean about how she was really treated behind the scenes.
The reason for de Jager’s appearance on the show was an emotional one; prior to her visit, she had come out as transgender on her very popular YouTube channel. De Jager hadn’t done so on her own timeline, however. Instead, someone had reportedly attempted to blackmail her into revealing her truth to the world.
De Jager covered this traumatic experience during her appearance on Ellen, and she appreciated being able to share her story with the nation, too. But the YouTuber’s dealings with the host off set were apparently less cordial than the audience at home may have assumed. And she wasn’t shy about telling the world that story, either.
The 14-year-old de Jager had first had her interest in makeup piqued in 2008 while watching reality TV. Specifically, she tuned into an episode of MTV’s The Hills, where, as she told website Hello Giggles in 2017, she “saw eyeliner and blush.” She added, “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. What is this?’” And from there, de Jager was hooked.
It seems that de Jager’s next step was a fateful one, too. The teenager logged on to YouTube, where she found a tutorial for recreating the eyeliner worn by the Hills star Lauren Conrad. Speaking of that moment to Hello Giggles, she reminisced, “I was obsessed. I was like, ‘What is this?’ and ‘I want more.’”
Back in 2008, de Jager continued, the online makeup community was far from the behemoth it is today. So, her interest came at the perfect time – as did her launch onto the YouTube tutorial scene. She added, “That’s when I started practicing, going to the drugstore, getting stuff – and that’s where it all began.”
From there, de Jager started making YouTube videos herself for a couple of years before taking classes at Amsterdam’s B Academy, where she studied cosmetics. Then, once she had built up her skills, she plied her trade as a professional makeup artist. In 2014, though, de Jager jettisoned her agency to strike out on her own as a freelancer.
And the following year, de Jager got her big break with a video that she had uploaded to her YouTube channel. In the clip, entitled “The Power of Makeup,” the star paints half of her face using nearly half a dozen products while leaving the other side untouched. Her incredible artistry inspired countless others, too, who followed in her lead by uploading similar videos of themselves with and without makeup.
From there, de Jager’s star has only continued to rise. In 2017 she won both a Shorty Award and a Teen Choice Award for her online beauty expertise. She has also collaborated with Kim Kardashian-West and Lady Gaga for makeup videos, while her YouTube channel has gone from strength to strength – garnering more than one billion views and over 13 million subscribers.
Yet while de Jager naturally still kept some aspects of her life off-camera, in January 2020 she was forced to make a public admission about herself through her YouTube channel. It was information that the makeup artist had wanted to share eventually, but she was doing so sooner than planned because of an alleged case of blackmail.
And in the video, de Jager explains why she had kept her news to herself for so long. She begins, “Planet Earth is full of labels, and I never felt comfortable with labels. I wanted to be my own person, my own identity [and] my own human being, without any rules, without any labels and without any restrictions.”
De Jager continues, “I wanted to start the year off by finally revealing a part of my life that has made me who I am. I can’t believe I’m saying this today, to all of you, for the entire world to see, but damn, it feels good to finally do it. It’s time to let go and be finally free.”
With that, the YouTube star reveals what she had long hidden from the public. She says, “When I was younger, I was born in the wrong body, which means that I am transgender.” This was the secret that someone had forced her into revealing to the world – regardless of whether she was ready to do so.
Rather than speaking about her blackmailers, though, de Jager first told the story of how she came to be the woman known so well by the makeup community. And the tale began even before her birth. You see, while de Jager’s mom was pregnant, she was completely sure that she was expecting a girl.
In fact, de Jager’s mother had been so certain of this that she had never once asked doctors to confirm her baby’s gender. During the clip, the YouTuber reveals, “[My mom] was convinced that she was going to have a girl, and out came me. It was a surprise to my mom and a surprise to me as soon as I had brains to think with.”
De Jager also recalls having wanted to wear dresses instead of pants and T-shirts as a young child. Her taste in toys was different, too. She says, “I played with dolls and nail polish. My mom knew immediately that I was either going to be gay or a different kind of story.”
But as it turns out, de Jager wasn’t gay. And at the age of six, she decided with the support of her mother to start living as a girl. The makeup guru continues in her video, “I grew my hair out. People at my school knew, and I think by the age of seven [or] eight I fully wore girls’ clothes only. And the teachers were so supportive about it.”
Yet although de Jager identified as female, she didn’t transition right away – and this caused her hardship throughout her childhood. In the YouTube clip, she admits, “I’ve always lived my youth as a girl. And the hardest part about living your youth as a girl when you’re not officially a girl yet is that you have to tell people in your life who you truly are – even though you feel trapped.”
De Jager goes on to say, “[It involves] meeting new people, growing close to them and telling them a side to your life that you don’t even want to talk about because you hate that part of your life. You don’t want that to be a part of your life, [and] you don’t want to be known for that single part of your life. But still, you have to, and that is so hard.”
Eventually, de Jager did complete her transition, which she began at 14 through the use of growth stoppers and hormones – the first steps in the process. And at 19, the YouTuber finally finished her gender confirmation – all while simultaneously cultivating a growing fan base online.
At the end of the video covering her transition, however, de Jager decides to address those who had forced her into making such a public statement. She says, “I have been blackmailed by people that wanted to leak my story to the press. At first, it was frightening. It was frightening to know that there are people out there that are so evil that they can’t respect someone’s true identity. It is vile, and it is gross.”
De Jager also said that the blackmailers had their reasons for pressing her to come out to the world. She explains, “They said they wanted to leak it because I’m lying, or that I don’t want to tell my truth, or because I’m too scared for people to know who I truly am.”
But de Jager seemed to be the winner in her situation, as telling her story apparently left her feeling no fear. Instead, she reveals in the Youtube clip, “I’m not scared. Today’s the day I am free, and I get to be me finally. Please know that this doesn’t change anything about me. My love for makeup has always been real, [and] I have always been real.”
Even so, de Jager did expect the news to affect her YouTube following, worrying that her audience would see her differently following the revelation. And while that was indeed the case, it was in a positive way, as 300,000 more users decided to subscribe to the makeup artist’s channel within just a day of her coming out. People around the world also praised her for her bravery despite the circumstances in which she shared her story.
The LGBTQ community also rallied behind de Jager, with none other than Ellen DeGeneres inviting the YouTuber onto her eponymous talk show. Indeed, the host has a long history of bringing young, inspiring LGBTQ people into her studio for the series. And the makeup artist made her own appearance on Ellen in early 2020.
So, while on stage, de Jager went through her story once again for the benefit of anyone in the audience who may not have known what had happened to her. And the YouTuber also lauded her mother for the support given throughout her childhood and transition, noting that other trans kids may not have the same love surrounding them.
But de Jager knew that people of all ages struggled with the same discord that she had felt. She said on the show, “I want to take this opportunity to hopefully inspire a lot of transgender people out there. And even when you’re starting later on your journey… we need to accept that.”
De Jager continued, “It’s hard [for me to know the impact of my news] because, I don’t know, it’s only been a week. I don’t know where this is going to go. I don’t know where I fit in this magical world. But as long as I get to be myself and inspire little Nikkies to be themselves, that’s all I can do.”
And de Jager knew that an appearance on Ellen would give her more exposure to those who may need to hear her message. She told the host, “Thank you for letting me be here, because if there’s one person to get this message across globally – and you like no other know what it’s like to come out… Just, thank you for this honor.”
The niceties exchanged between de Jager and Ellen appeared genuine to viewers, too. One woman who claimed to have been present at the time wrote in the comments section to a BuzzFeed article, “I was actually in the live studio audience during the taping of [de Jager’s] interview, and [she and Ellen] looked like they got along fine.”
But only weeks after her sit-down with Ellen, de Jager appeared on the Dutch-language talk show De Wereld Draait Door. And after host Matthijs van Nieurwkerk brought up the YouTuber’s showing on American TV, he asked her what it had been like to be a guest on the hugely popular daytime series.
De Jager didn’t mince her words, either, revealing that she had found her time on the show to be unpleasant. And it was mainly her interactions with Ellen – or lack thereof – that had rubbed her up the wrong way. The makeup artist said, “It’s really nice that you came over and said, ‘Hello’ to me… She didn’t.”
Like any good interviewer, van Nieuwkerk pressed de Jager for further info. She followed up her revelation by saying, however, that all talk shows outside of her native Netherlands felt like “a whole different world.” Elaborating on this, de Jager added, “It’s more distant” – although she did also note that her time on Ellen felt like “an honor.”
And, interestingly enough, de Jager wasn’t the only person sharing such a story. A week before the Dutch-language interview came to light, Twitter went into a frenzy over Kevin T. Porter’s online inquiry about Ellen. On Twitter, Porter had asked users of the social media site to share the “most insane stories [they’d] heard” about the host.
Soon enough, Porter’s tweet had a litany of explosive responses. One person shared the story of a pal who had apparently worked on The Ellen DeGeneres Show “for two years.” They continued, “[She] told me Ellen didn’t greet her once. In fact, upon employment, staff were told they weren’t allowed to talk to her.”
Actor and writer Benjamin Siemon also chimed in on the thread, claiming that Ellen had a “sensitive nose” – to the point where she could send staff home for smelling bad. He alleged, “Everyone must chew gum from a bowl outside her office before talking to her, and if she thinks you smell that day, you have to go home and shower.”
Plus, Siemon asserted, on a daily basis Ellen tended to funnel her rage toward just one person – and no one ever knew who would face her fire. He explained, “A new staff member was told, ‘Every day, [Ellen] picks someone different to really hate. It’s not your fault. Just suck it up for the day, and she’ll be mean to someone else the next day.’ They didn’t believe it, but it ended up being entirely true.”
But in the face of de Jager’s revelation about her time on Ellen’s show, fans stuck up for the host. One commented on a BuzzFeed article, “I don’t know what all this Ellen-bashing is about. I don’t know either of these people personally, but the interview was friendly and interesting and didn’t appear amiss in any way for the viewer.”
Meanwhile, after her Ellen appearance, de Jager has continued to do what she does best. But she has since had to make a tough decision regarding her impending wedding to Dylan Drossaers. In April 2020 the couple announced that they would postpone their nuptials in the light of recent global events.
Still, through this, de Jager had her fans to help back her up. And after having braved blackmail to reveal her truth, the makeup artist may have won a few more admirers, too. During her Ellen segment, de Jager made mention of how much the support has meant to her, saying, “I was so happy that it’s 2020, and the acceptance is real.”
But what of the host herself? Are the stories about her bad behavior true? Well, in 2020 a whole slew of claims about Ellen have come to light – and they may not make very pleasant reading for her legions of viewers. In fact, if the allegations are to be believed, the talk show mainstay could be a bit of a diva.
For the majority of her enduring career, Ellen has been regarded as one of the nicest women on TV. Her eponymous daytime show even thrives on feelgood celebrity chat, heartwarming true-life tales and charitable acts. But if one Twitter thread is to be believed, the comedienne is a very different person when the cameras are turned off. Yes, the stories people told could show Ellen in a whole new light.
Yet Ellen has built up her all-round good egg reputation largely thanks to her syndicated talk show. It’s here where the lives of many members of the public have been changed. For example, in 2017 The Ellen DeGeneres Show paid for 42 state school scholarships for students from a Brooklyn charter school. This totaled $1.6 million – making it the program’s biggest-ever giveaway.
Ellen also warmed the nation’s hearts by dipping into her personal fortune on several occasions. She donated a whopping $1 million to footballer J.J. Watt’s relief fund for the devastating Hurricane Harvey, for instance. The star helped to raise that same amount of money for the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles as well.
As well as splashing the cash on great causes, Ellen has used her fame to highlight inequality and injustice. She’s been a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement, for example, and the fight for same-sex marriage. Ellen also delivered an inspiring speech at the 2015 Teen Choice Awards. The star told youngsters, “Embrace who you are, because being unique is very, very important and fitting in is not really all that matters.”
The Ellen DeGeneres Show has become well-known for giving ordinary American citizens their chances to shine, too. Yes, with invitations to the set, the daytime hit affords untold numbers of local business owners, child prodigies and talented unknowns their 15 minutes of fame. And the comedienne fulfilled many members of the public’s dreams by arranging meetings with their favorite showbiz stars.
And Ellen has almost made fellow daytime talk show queen Oprah Winfrey look tightfisted when it comes to handing out prizes. Those audience members lucky enough to take part in the many on-stage competitions are often given more gifts than they can physically carry. The show even has a regular annual promotion named Twelve Days of Giveaways.
Plus, Barack Obama couldn’t stop gushing about Ellen’s inherent niceness when he presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016. He said, “Today, every day, in every way, Ellen counters what too often divides us with the countless things that bind us together, inspires us to be better. One joke, one dance at a time.”
Speaking to Parade magazine in 2011, Ellen explained why she chooses to embrace a positive spirit on her daytime talk show. She said, “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.’”
So it’s understandable that many of those whose lives Ellen enriches have spoken out in favor of the comedienne. On a personal blog named Shalavee, a fan recalled the moment she first met the star in the early 1990s. She wrote, “I remember how lovely and sweet and very talented I thought Ellen was. I certainly do hope that she is very happy in the life she’s living because I know she would wish me to be.”
However, even Ellen herself has admitted that the ever-smiling, ever-happy personality she presents on screen isn’t always her true self. In a 2018 interview with The New York Times, the comedienne explained, “The talk show is me, but I’m also playing a character of a talk-show host. There’s a tiny, tiny bit of difference.”
Ellen acknowledged that her public persona can sometimes leave her frustrated when she’s out and about minding her own business. She said, “There’s been times someone wants a picture, and while I’m doing a selfie, they’re like, ‘You’re not dancing!’ Of course I’m not dancing. I’m walking down the street.”
Yet Ellen slammed the rumors that the working environment of her daytime TV show isn’t a particularly happy one. She went on, “That bugs me if someone is saying that because it’s an outright lie. The first day I said, ‘The one thing I want is everyone here to be happy and proud of where they work, and if not, don’t work here.’ No one is going to raise their voice or not be grateful. That’s the rule to this day.”
Unfortunately for Ellen, though, negative gossip continues to circulate. And in 2019 she suffered a significant backlash thanks to her handling of two very different matters. First, the public chastised the star for how she supported Kevin Hart. Hart had just been dropped from his Oscars hosting gig after homophobic tweets from his past reemerged online.
Ellen initially criticized those who had called out Hart for his offensive comments when he appeared on her talk show. And then the star revealed that she’d personally attempted to get the funnyman reinstated as host in a call to the ceremony’s organizers. But the LGBTQ community didn’t appreciate how Ellen seemingly dismissed their concerns.
Ellen misjudged the mood of the nation when she responded to the furor over her friendship with George W. Bush as well. The 43rd POTUS had previously supported a constitutional amendment opposing marriage between couples of the same sex. And after Ellen appeared at an NFL game with Bush, many fans felt she’d once again betrayed the LGBTQ community.
Yet Ellen stoked the flames even further when she refused to apologize for her affiliation with Bush. She told viewers, “We’re all different, and I think that we’ve forgotten that [it’s] okay that we’re all different. Just because I don’t agree with someone on everything, doesn’t mean that [I won’t] be friends with them.”
The Ellen backlash continued in March 2020 in a Twitter thread started by Kevin T. Porter. The comedian and podcast host took to the social media platform to encourage those who had a horror story about Ellen to spill the beans.
Porter tweeted, “Right now we all need a little kindness. You know, like Ellen DeGeneres always talks about! She’s also notoriously one of the meanest people alive. Respond to this with the most insane stories you’ve heard about Ellen being mean & I’ll match every one with $2 to [the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank].”
But Porter, who co-hosts podcasts such as Gilmore Guys and Good Christian Fun, may have underestimated just how many nightmarish Ellen tales are out there. And his bank account was soon in danger of being wiped out – as a whole host of Twitter users contributed to the thread.
It appears as though Ellen has rubbed plenty of people up the wrong way throughout her glittering career. Benjamin Siemon, a TV writer, was one of the many individuals who claims to have had first-hand experience of the comedienne’s apparent unpleasant nature. He said, “Everyone must chew gum from a bowl outside her office before talking to her and if she thinks you smell that day you have to go home and shower.”
And Siemon didn’t finish there. He claimed, “A new staff member was told ‘every day she picks someone different to really hate. It’s not your fault, just suck it up for the day and she’ll be mean to someone else the next day.’ They didn’t believe it but it ended up being entirely true.”
Another TV writer claimed that Ellen can be super demanding. Alison Freer was once working on the set of another production filmed on the same Warner Bros. lot as The Ellen DeGeneres Show. She alleged, “[It] was our showrunner’s 50th birthday. Caterer grilling steaks outside for special fancy lunch. Ellen sent someone over to demand they stop as she doesn’t eat meat. She’s the worst.”
Other claims were based on hearsay and friend-of-a-friend accounts. But they still made for juicy reading. One Twitter user alleged that Karen Kilgariff had been sacked as The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s head writer for refusing to be a scab amid a writer’s strike. They claimed, “When [Kilgariff] wouldn’t cross the picket line she was fired, and Ellen never spoke to her again.”
Another individual claimed on Twitter that Ellen never even acknowledged a friend who had spent two years working as a writer on the daytime show. The user wrote, “[She] told me [that] Ellen didn’t greet her once. In fact, upon employment, staff were told they weren’t allowed to talk to her.”
According to another Twitter user, Ellen is too willing to get rid of her staff when they fail to meet her high demands. The star allegedly once told a new hire to take her fancy vehicle for a spin. And when the assistant, who apparently expressed her discomfort with the task, crashed the car into a pole, they immediately lost their job.
Josh Levesque, a comedian, contributed to the thread with a story that suggests Ellen isn’t a fan of mixing with her staff. Levesque recounted a story that had reportedly been told by a production assistant friend who had worked on the show when Russell Brand once guested. The wild-haired Brit had been chatting in the employee break room to various crew members when he was supposedly interrupted by a disgruntled Ellen.
According to Levesque’s friend, Ellen was unimpressed with the fact that one of her high-profile celebrity guests was hanging out with civilians. She allegedly told Brand that he “didn’t have to interact with these people,” before adding, “that’s why guests have their own area backstage.”
Detox, a contestant on Ru Paul’s Drag Race, waded in with a story about an old friend who worked on Ellen’s studio lot. She wrote, “[They] smiled and said ‘good afternoon’ to her one day, and she became unhinged. ‘Who do you think you are? You don’t look at me’ yada yada. She said [de Rossi] was with her and seemed embarrassed and tried to calm her down. [That] has forever changed my opinion of her.”
But Ellen’s alleged meanness isn’t just confined to the workplace. Many of the Twitter thread’s contributors claimed that she’s just as hostile when eating out at a restaurant. One user even alleged that a waiter friend had a plate of salmon thrown at them by the comedienne because it wasn’t what she’d ordered.
A waitress at the Los Angeles vegan restaurant Real Food Daily also alleged that Ellen is a woman to be feared. The Twitter user claimed that she nearly lost her job after the star wrote a letter of complaint to management. The problem? Ellen had reportedly taken umbrage with the fact that the waitress’ nail polish had been chipped.
However, among the dozens of negative stories, there were a few more positive ones. Jordan James Smith, an actor, spoke about the time that he rubbed shoulders with both Ellen and Beyoncé on a commercial for American Express. He tweeted, “We talked, and I made a joke that made them both laugh. She was actually really nice.”
And not everyone appreciated Porter’s unique way of raising money. One Twitter user described the Ellen-bashing thread – which featured a whole host of stories that couldn’t be proven – as mean-spirited. They added, “Why would you encourage negativity, especially at such a trying time?”
But it’s not just the general public who’s blasted Ellen for her conduct. Caitlyn Jenner once accused the star of ruining her reputation within the LGBTQ community – through the way The Ellen DeGeneres Show had edited comments she’d made about gay marriage. The reality star claimed in her memoir, The Secret of My Life, that the host was more interested in going viral than providing a true representation of their discussion.
Kathy Griffin has taken umbrage with Ellen several times in the past, too. In 2018 she told a Los Angeles comedy show crowd that she’d been upset by the star’s refusal to appear at a tribute to the late Joan Rivers. Griffin said, “I just called her, and I just said, ‘Look, woman to woman, comic to comic, I think you need to let go of your hatred for Joan Rivers. She’s passed away, just do a f***ing tribute, be cool.’”
But it was Kevin Porter’s Twitter thread that inspired everyone else to share their Ellen stories. In fact, nearly 2,000 people replied to the call put out by the comedian – a number which left him overwhelmed. He tweeted, “Well this got out of hand! It’s now hard to tell which stories are real or not, so I’ve rounded up to 300 and donated $600!”
Porter then encouraged even those without an Ellen horror story to be charitable. He wrote, “If you can, please give to your local food banks because they are slammed right now… honestly, be kind, especially to those in the most vulnerable positions right now. But be truly kind. Don’t settle for a cheap imitation.”
Ellen has yet to comment on all of the mean-girl rumors. But in early 2020 she did take to Twitter to confirm that production on her daytime TV show had been postponed. And the star made sure to let everyone know that her staff was at the forefront of her mind.
Ellen told her followers, “So, after some more thought, we have decided to suspend production completely until March 30. We just want to take every precaution to ensure that we do our part to keep everyone healthy. I love you guys, and can’t wait to come back. I’m already bored.”
Ellen later posted a video clip on the same social media platform reiterating the love she had for her behind-the-scenes team. She said, “This was my show staff’s planned spring break week. I’ve asked them all to continue to stay home and disconnect for a week.”
However, Ellen was soon back on Twitter with a big announcement. In a video uploaded to the social media platform, she explained that her eponymous program would be returning in April 2020. The presenter added, “Guess what? We figured out how to do the show from my house. So… we have a camera set up, and we are going to be doing interviews, and it’s going to be fun.”