LOS ANGELES — As the very first person ever hired on the Ellen DeGeneres show back in 2003, human interest producer Hedda Muskat loved her job, and won two Emmys doing it.

“I loved giving people the opportunity to voice their stories,” she said.

What You Need To Know

  • Ellen DeGeneres will end her talk show after 19 seasons

  • Ellen told Hollywood Reporter, "When you’re a creative person, you constantly need to be challenged — and as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it’s just not a challenge anymore"

  • The show will end in 2022

  • Ellen will discuss her decision to leave with Oprah as a guest this Thursday

She worked on the show for its first two seasons before she says she was let go. During the months leading up to launch, Hedda recalls Ellen being very sweet and kind. But, she says, after the show launched to huge success, everything changed.

“Her executive producer, her pit bull, we were at a meeting, and he went off at someone. He was screaming, belittling. You would think Ellen being the nice person she is would say, 'Ed you can't talk to people that way'. She turned around and looked at us and said ‘every show needs its pit bull’,” Hedda said.

That 2003 talk show launch furthered Ellen’s massive and groundbreaking career. However, it was her coming out as gay on Time Magazine years before in 1997, when she was an actress, that cemented her in history. Her character on her sitcom, "Ellen," also subsequently came out as gay — making her the first gay lead character on TV. 

"That really allowed people all over America, all over the world, to see LGBTQ people in a very different light," said Anthony Ramos from GLADD.

When Ellen's talk show grew into the hit it became — it further grew her platform to create representation on television – and make an impact in people’s lives. During its 19 years, the show gave out nearly $70 million in charitable donations and more than $300 million in audience giveaways. Ellen even was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom under Barack Obama in 2016.

Then, last year, came bombshell allegations from former employees of a toxic workplace. It painted a shocking dark contrast to the bright spirit Ellen always exuded – and encouraged all of us to live out.

Despite the negative working environment Hedda experienced, she said some good did come from the show.

“Her show was a platform to give the LGBTQ community a voice,” she said.

Ellen now leaves a void in daytime television — for some, it’s a loss for representation, for others, a sigh of relief.