This cute girl became one of the most influential and beloved TV hosts in the U.S.

In honor of the 15th season of her self-titled daytime talk show, Ellen DeGeneres shared a rare retro snap of her teenage self.

When Ellen DeGeneres began hosting her talk show in 2003, no one expected an out lesbian to become the darling of daytime, including some people behind the scenes, who urged her to downplay her identity.

NBC O&Os have been home to Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres since the series’ debut in 2003. DeGeneres has solidified her place as the top-rated daytime talker among women in the four years since Oprah Winfrey ended her run in syndication.

After her talk show was picked up for national syndication, she was encouraged in the early years not to talk about herself in a way that indicated anything about her sexual orientation or romantic relationships.

As an example, she said, “I remember there was something that happened to my finger and I was in a relationship and I was going to say ‘we’ and they wouldn’t let me say ‘we,’ because all of a sudden, someone was going to picture a woman in my life.”

For more than a decade, ‘Ellen’ has anchored the daytime lineups of the NBC-owned stations, offering viewers a great afternoon show, delivering a strong lead-in for our early evening newscasts and helping to launch new hits.’ said Valari Staab, president of NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations.

DeGeneres knew she had to appeal to a broad audience, but says she felt that what would be most appealing to any audience was honesty. Now on the show and in her stand-up act, DeGeneres is forthcoming about her life and relationships.

Ellen revealed she and her show would be collectively donating $50K to the American Red Cross, and the animal lover will also donate another $25K to the SPCA of Texas.

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