Ellen DeGeneres' distinctive comic voice has resonated with audiences from her first stand-up comedy appearances through her work today on television, in film and in the literary world. She has made a home for herself in the daytime arena with her hit syndicated talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Now in its 10th season, the show has earned a total of 38 Daytime Emmy Awards. Additionally, DeGeneres has won 12 People’s Choice Awards and most recently, the Teen Choice Award for “Choice Comedian” for a third consecutive year. Additionally, the show has won two Genesis Award, and a GLAAD Media Award for “Outstanding Talk Show Episode.”
DeGeneres has been included in Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women and was also included in Entertainment Weekly’s 50 Most Powerful Entertainers. She was honored with Television Week's Syndication Personality of the Year and has been included in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.
She hosted the highly rated 79th Annual Academy Awards® and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for “Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program.” In addition to hosting the Oscars®, DeGeneres has hosted the Primetime Emmy Awards three times. Her performance hosting the 2001 awards show garnered her rave reviews for providing a perfect balance of wit with heartfelt emotion to the post-September 11th telecast audience. DeGeneres served as host for an array of industry events including the 38th and 39th annual Grammy Awards®, for which she earned an Emmy nomination.
DeGeneres also received critical success for her HBO stand-up specials. The Beginning received two Emmy nominations in 2001 and the special entitled Here and Now was also nominated for two Emmys in 2003.
The best-selling author released her third book in October 2011 titled, Seriously…I’m Kidding, which includes a compilation of photos, quotes and stories from her life. Her second book, The Funny Thing Is…., comprised of the author's comedic short stories and essays hit the New York Times bestseller list upon its release. In 2005, DeGeneres was nominated for a Grammy Award® for Best Comedy Album for the audio version of the book. Her first book, My Point…And I Do Have One, published in 1995, debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
DeGeneres’ career began as an emcee at a local comedy club in her hometown of New Orleans, which led to national recognition in 1982 when her videotaped club performances won Showtime’s “Funniest Person In America” honor. When DeGeneres moved to Los Angeles she filmed her first HBO Special, Young Comedians Reunion, then in 1986 Women of the Night. That same year, DeGeneres became the first female comedian to be summoned by Johnny Carson to sit down with him after her performance.
The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize focuses on those who create humor from their uniquely American experiences. The proceeds from the evening’s event are used to support the Kennedy Center’s programs, performances and outreach. As recipient of the 2012 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Ms. DeGeneres will receive a copy of an 1884 bronze portrait bust of Mark Twain sculpted by Karl Gerhardt (1853-1940). The bust and images of it are courtesy of the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut.
Along with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the creators and executive producers of The Mark Twain Prize are Bob Kaminsky, Peter Kaminsky, Mark Krantz, and Cappy McGarr. WETA Washington, D.C. executive producers for Ellen DeGeneres: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize are Dalton Delan and David S. Thompson.
The Kennedy Center Celebration of American Humor was instituted as an annual event in October 1998. Recipients of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize have been Richard Pryor (1998), Jonathan Winters (1999), Carl Reiner (2000), Whoopi Goldberg (2001), Bob Newhart (2002), Lily Tomlin (2003), Lorne Michaels (2004), Steve Martin (2005) Neil Simon (2006) Billy Crystal (2007) George Carlin (2008), Bill Cosby (2009), Tina Fey (2010), and Will Ferrell (2011).