The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s original DJ Tony Okungbowa has spoken out about his time on the series. Ellen and her crew have dominated the headlines over the past few weeks after the host was accused of being mean, and three employees were then accused of inappropriate behavior behind the scenes.
Tony opened up about his experience in a post shared to his Instagram account on Tuesday, August 4, which can be seen here. In it, he claimed that he felt “the toxicity” during the many years working alongside Ellen.
The actor appeared on the series for nine non-consecutive years, first making his debut back in 2003 until he left in 2006. He returned in 2007 and stayed until 2013.
“Hey Guys, I hope you are all keeping safe out there during these trying times,” the star, who currently appears on the CBS sitcom Bob Hearts Abishola, began his message. “I have been getting calls asking me about the Ellen Degeneres Show and I would like to address the time I spent there.”
“I was on air talent from 2003-2006 and from 2007-2013. While I am grateful for the opportunity it afforded me, I did experience and feel the toxicity of the environment and I stand with my former colleagues in their quest to create a healthier and more inclusive workplace as [it] moves forward.”
Tony didn’t elaborate any further on the “toxicity of the environment” he experienced.
His caption was shared alongside a photo of himself that was taken a few years ago as he stood on the old set. In it, he stood at the DJ booth, which used to be prominent at the side of the stage, with a pair of headphones placed around his neck.
His role was taken over by former So You Think You Can Dance contestant Stephen “tWitch” Boss in 2014, who has remained by the star’s side to this day. The dancer also appears alongside the host on her other TV foray, Ellen’s Game of Games.
The talk show has been in hot water in recent weeks after BuzzFeed News spoke to several current and former employees who claimed that they’d had negative experiences in the workplace.
As reported by Entertainment Tonight last week, Ellen sent a message to her employees in which she apologized and said that she wanted to have more “conversations about fairness and justice” after Warner Bros. launched an internal investigation into the allegations.
Shortly after that, BuzzFeed News published another report in which three producers were accused of “misconduct and harassment,” which two of them have denied.