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Former Teen Idol "Discovered" by Ellen DeGeneres Calls Her "Manipulative" & "Controlling"

Now 25, viral pop star Greyson Chance speaks out against the talk show host.

When he was 12 years old, Greyson Chance's cover of Lady Gaga's song "Paparazzi" went viral on YouTube, so he ended up where a lot of viral child performers did: on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. And for the aspiring singer, this wasn't a one-time thing. Chance was the first act signed to DeGeneres' record label, went on to tour around the world, and appeared on her show several more times.

But the story doesn't end there. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Chance opened up about his experience as a protégé of Ellen DeGeneres and revealed that it wasn't the fairytale that it seemed to be. The artist even made the claim, "I've never met someone more manipulative, more self-centered, and more blatantly opportunistic than her." He also said that their relationship ended in a way that was traumatic for him.

Chance's revelations come after previous claims that the former talk show host, who frequently promotes kindness, does not live up to her image in real life. Read on to see what the now 25-year-old singer had to say about the controversial star.

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DeGeneres promised to "protect" Chance and make him famous.

Chance appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2010 after going viral online. Soon, he was the first musician signed to her new record label, eleveneleven, and set off on a Justin Bieber-inspired career. He recorded music and went on tour, including opening for Miranda Cosgrove and co-headlining with Cody Simpson. According to Chance, DeGeneres assured him and his mother, Lisa Chance, that she would make him famous and successful.

"I remember her pulling my mom aside and saying, 'You're never going to have to work again a day in your life,'" Chance told Rolling Stone. He said she would also tell them, "I'm going to protect you. I'm going to be here for you. We're going to do this together."

Chance claims DeGeneres became "controlling."

Chance told Rolling Stone that DeGeneres "became domineering and way too controlling" about his career, highlighting an instance in which he said she made him re-do a pre-recorded performance for another show, because she didn't like it. He also claimed that she was "degrading to people" in front of him, including stylists deciding what Chance should wear for appearances. "My whole week, my whole month, my whole year could change [with] one text message from her. That was horrible," he said.

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He says he overheard her yelling at his mom.

Greyson Chance at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Chance also claimed that DeGeneres once angrily shouted at his mother over the phone. DeGeneres wanted him to watch an advance copy of Bieber's documentary, Never Say Never, but Chance was too tired from touring to have done it yet.

"I'll never forget this," Chance told Rolling Stone, "I just remember hearing on the other side of the phone, just yelling [and] beratement: 'What type of mother are you? Do you realize that I went out of my way to get this for you, and he can't sit down and watch it?'"

His mother Lisa added, "People forgot how old he was. [Ellen] was not very happy that he hadn't watched it because she thought that it was important for him to guide his career based on what Justin was doing. I don't remember exactly what she said, but she was berating."

Best Life has reached out to a representative for DeGeneres about Chance's claims but has not yet received a response. The host did not reply to Rolling Stone's request for comment.

He felt "abandoned" by the host.

Greyson Chance at the premiere of "Green Lantern" in 2011
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Chance's child star career took a turn after his second project with eleveneleven didn't do well. He told Rolling Stone he felt "completely abandoned" by DeGeneres at that point. "I couldn't get ahold of her. Couldn't talk to her," the singer explained.

He continued to come onto The Ellen DeGeneres Show periodically to promote his career, but, evidently, those on-air interviews didn't reflect their actual relationship. After returning to music after a break, Chance made a 2019 appearance on the talk show. He recalled to the magazine that DeGeneres "came out during soundcheck" and hugged him. "And she said, 'How have you been?'" Chance claimed. "And that just killed me inside because I was like, 'What do you mean how have I [expletive] been? Where have you been?"

During that 2019 interview, Ellen congratulated Chance, who is gay, for coming out in 2017. "She had nothing to do with that," the singer said to the outlet, calling her praise "cheap." "I… [When I came out,] I hadn't spoken to her in years… That's so messed up, that you're now showing the world as if we're so tight. We're so good. And behind the scenes, you are this insanely manipulative person."

He continued, "When I look at the interviews and I look at my eyes, I can see so much anxiety. I can just see so much PTSD because I'm there holding on for dear life going, 'I need this TV gig.'"

He refused to return to the show for the final season.

Greyson Chance at Build Studio in February 2020
Jason Mendez/Getty Images

Chance said that being on the show in 2019 felt like a "place of active trauma," so he vowed to never to return. He was contacted multiple times for the final season of the show, which ended this year, but he turned down each offer.

"I turned down a national TV gig on the eve of an album release, which is probably not a smart thing to do, but I had to do it for my integrity," he explained. Chance's latest album, Palladium, came out on Sept. 22.

During an appearance on The Zach Sang Show in 2021, Chance was asked if he'd be on the final season of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which featured many returning favorites, and he quickly and simply answered, "No."

He feels a "weight off his shoulders" after sharing his experience with her.

Greyson Chance performing at the Outloud Raising Voices Music Festival in June 2022
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

In his Rolling Stone interview, Chance concluded, "The first part of my career, I owe a lot of thanks to her and to that team. But the reason why I'm here today talking about an album, I owe [expletive] nothing to her. Because I was the one that had to pull myself up. She was nowhere to be found."

In a post on Instagram, Chance explained that it was freeing to do the Rolling Stone profile and to put out his latest album. "I've been wanting to tell this story for a long time, and was repeatedly told not to," he wrote. "Writing this album forced me to look dead in the eyes of my past, and reconcile with everything I went through as a kid. I feel a tremendous weight off of my shoulders now that the truth is out."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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