Ellen: I think Diane Sawyer told me she read something that said the cracks in your heart let the sun shine through. I just thought that was beautiful. And it's all part of balance. I'm a comedian, and I definitely see the humor in a lot of things. I am also sad a lot. I cry often and easily. I think you're supposed to feel all kinds of things. You're supposed to laugh, you're supposed to cry, you're not supposed to shove your feelings under the rug. I was raised in an atmosphere of "everything's fine." But as I got older, I was like, "Well no, everything's not fine. There is stuff that's sad." I am a really sensitive person. I think I am too sensitive sometimes, especially in this business.
Oprah: But you do laugh more than you cry, don't you?
Ellen: Oh, sure. I'm not like a depressed person. But I am saddened by how people treat one another and how we are so shut off from one another and how we judge one another, when the truth is, we are all one connected thing. We are all from the same exact molecules.
Oprah: Is that why you became vegan?
Ellen: I became vegan because I saw footage of what really goes on in the slaughterhouses and on the dairy farms. As Linda McCartney used to say, if they had glass walls, no one would eat meat. And let me tell you, I loved eating meat. I loved lamb, I loved chicken, I loved my cheeseburgers.…
Oprah: Did you notice a difference when you became vegan?
Ellen: Well I felt better about myself, and I felt healthier living in a cruelty-free way. I haven't been sick since, I am not as tired, and I've lost weight. And I am lucky: I have a chef, so it's easy for me. For a lot of people, it's harder.
Oprah: Trying to do it so you stay balanced—back to that word, balance —is work. You've got to know what you're doing to get all your nutrition.
Oprah: Okay. So, when I saw you at the photo shoot for the cover, what I was most struck by was the light in your eyes.
Ellen: Well, of course there was a light—I was with you!
Oprah: [ Laughs ] No, there really was a twinkle in your eye that comes only from a sense of well-being. I'm telling you, I recognize it when I see it. What's that all about for you?
Ellen: You told me you wanted to talk about this, so I was thinking about it. And I asked my massage person: What is it about me that you think is balanced?
Oprah: [ Laughs ] That's like when Gayle was invited to speak about self-esteem and she calls me and says, "How do I feel about self-esteem?" So your massage person said…
Ellen: She said I constantly challenge myself. She has known me for 11 years, and she said when something goes wrong, instead of running away from it, I look at it and go, "What's my part in it, what's my responsibility?"
Next: Ellen opens up about her loving wife, Portia