Ellen DeGeneres seemingly has a sole regret about her decision to come out on national television: She wishes she would’ve done it sooner.
Speaking to Matt Lauer during Friday’s edition of TODAY, DeGeneres reflected on playing a vital part in molding the entertainment landscape for the LGBT community with the historic Ellen sitcom moment, which saw her character, Ellen Morgan, revealing her sexuality to Susan (Laura Dern), a news producer, during the show’s April 30, 1997 broadcast.
“If you look back with the benefit of 20 years, does it feel differently to you now? Do you look at that event differently than you did at the time?” Lauer asked the comedian and talk show host.
“I was anticipating it being a charged episode, which it was, because it was making a big decision to come out and to be honest and to stop hiding something that I kept secret for so long,” she said. “It was a big deal.”
Despite the success of “The Puppy Episode” (approximately 42 million people tuned in for the installment, which also scored a Peabody), DeGeneres, who won an Emmy for her writing on Ellen, explained that, in hindsight, the moment’s welcome was long overdue.
“I look back on it now and I think, I wish I would’ve done it sooner,” she said. “I wish I hadn’t waited so long, but it was what it was.”
Lauer also asked DeGeneres about her relationship with President Donald Trump, which she said is virtually nonexistent, though she admits she did film a segment for Celebrity Apprentice inside his helicopter shortly after the launch of her career in daytime television. When Lauer asked if she’d like to interview the controversial president, however, DeGeneres was frank in her reply.
“No. Because I’m not going to change his mind,” she said. “He’s against everything that I stand for. We need to look at someone else who looks different than us and believes in something we don’t believe in and still accept them and still let them have their rights.”
Watch DeGeneres discuss her TV legacy and Trump in the clips above.