Tony Okungbowa, who deejayed more than 1,600 episodes of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, spoke out for the first time since Ellen DeGeneres and her executive producers came under fire for allegedly creating a toxic work environment.
“Hey Guys, I hope you are all keeping safe out there during these trying times,” Okungbowa, 52, wrote via Instagram on Tuesday, August 4. “I have been getting calls asking me about the Ellen Degeneres Show and I would like to address the time I spent there.”
The Bob Hearts Abishola star continued, “While I am grateful for the opportunity it afforded me, I did experience and feel the toxicity of the environment and I stand with my former colleagues in their quest to create a healthier and more inclusive workplace as the show moves forward.”
Okungbowa appeared on the daytime talk show from 2003 to 2006 and again from 2007 to 2013 before pursuing a career in acting. Stephen “tWitch” Boss has been DeGeneres’ DJ since 2014.
DeGeneres, 62, faced major backlash in July after BuzzFeed News published a report detailing allegations of racism, fear and intimidation behind-the-scenes of her Emmy-winning series. The website later reported that the show’s top producers engaged in sexual misconduct with staffers, which the producers denied.
In the wake of the accusations, Warner Bros. launched an investigation into The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The comedian spoke out for the first time on Thursday, July 30, writing in a letter to employees, “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. 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.”
While celebrities including Brad Garrett and Lea Thompson have spoken out against DeGeneres in recent days, she has received messages of support from her wife, Portia de Rossi, and stars such as Katy Perry, Kevin Hart and Ashton Kutcher.
“Close friends, like Jennifer Aniston, Justin Timberlake and Mario Lopez, are on her side,” a source exclusively told Us Weekly. “They know that Ellen can be tough but accept that about her and know that it takes a lot of work to run a tight ship like her show. They get it.”
The Finding Nemo star’s brother, Vance DeGeneres, also rushed to her defense, tweeting on Tuesday, “If you think Ellen would knowingly allow bullying or racism on her show, you don’t know my sister.”
Us Weekly has reached out to the Ellen DeGeneres Show rep for comment on Okungbowa’s claims.
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