Oprah: And are you able to challenge other people to accept their responsibility?
Ellen: Oh yeah, and that was such a huge thing for me, because I was raised to be quiet about things like that—you know, just keep your mouth closed. Not in a strict way—my parents were very passive. My father would never confront anybody about anything and is just kind and gentle. And my mother is really funny and sarcastic. But in my family, nothing was ever confronted. Yet now it's easy for me to tell other people what they're doing and how it makes me feel.
Oprah: You don't have the need to please.
Ellen: Well, sure, I want people to like me—but not at my expense. I just learned that there are too many people who are going to have an opinion about me whether I am kind to them or not. I can't control what they're feeling. I am not a yeller and I don't have a temper, but I do want people to do their best. And if someone is a friend and I see that they're doing stuff that is not helping them grow, I will make it a point to talk to them about it.
Oprah: Nongrowth seems to be a real deal breaker for you.
Ellen: I think you need to be around people who stimulate you.
Oprah: What was really delightful and heartwarming was to see you in the presence of Portia and vice versa. When she first walked into the shoot, your face lit up. Tell me about this relationship and how it has enlightened your life.
Ellen: Well, we're perfect for each other. She is so beautiful and so smart and so funny, and with her, I have that sense of "I'm done now." I'm settled. I know that part of my life is taken care of. I've got love. I've got someone who will be with me till the day I die.
Oprah: Is that why you wanted to be married?
Ellen: Getting married was more important to her, really. She says all the time how lucky we are that we had each other in that short window of time when it was legal to marry, because a lot of people hadn't found their person, and then suddenly that right was taken away. I'm tearing up thinking about it—we got to get married, and have a wedding. I grew up thinking I'd never get to do that.
Oprah: What do you refer to each other as—"my partner"?
Ellen: No, it's "my wife." She says "my wife" and I say "my wife."
Oprah: So there you are on your farm with your wife and your horses and your dogs. So balanced. But are you going to be able to maintain this balance, this time for yourself, with the American Idol schedule?
Ellen: Well, look at you! I don't have a radio show or a magazine. For a couple of months, I'll just fly out and do those audition things.
Oprah: That's what I can't wait to see—you, on the road for those auditions.
Ellen: I'll start live on the air in February. But I'm going to look at the tapes to see if they missed people who I would have put through.
Oprah: Fantastic. You're not afraid of confronting!
Ellen: That's right. And I'll be careful about hurting people's feelings. I know what it's like to stand up there and perform.
Next: Ellen talks more Idol