Ellen DeGeneres kicked off the first episode of season 18 of her show by addressing the claims that her crew is subject to a “toxic work environment.”

DeGeneres started the show, which was filmed in front of a virtual audience, by cracking some jokes about the situation.

“If you’re watching because you love me, thank you,” she said at the start of the monologue. “If you’re watching because you don’t love me, welcome.”

“How was everyone’s summer? Good? Yeah?” she asked. “Mine was great. Super terrific.”

She quickly shifted to discussing the accusations published by Buzzfeed News in July that claimed that employees working on The Ellen DeGeneres Show dealt with racism and discrimination, and were fired for requesting time off.

“As you may have heard, this summer there were allegations of a toxic work environment at our show and then there was an investigation,” she said. “I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected.”

“I know that I’m in a position of privilege and power and I realize that with that comes responsibility and I take responsibility for what happens at my show,” she continued. “This is The Ellen DeGeneres Show. I am Ellen DeGeneres. My name is there, my name is there,” she said pointing to the signs on her set. “My name is on underwear.”

She said her and her staff “have had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about the show, our workplace and what we want for the future.”

The show’s future apparently does not include the show’s former top three producers Ed Glavin, Kevin Leman and Jonathan Norman, who parted ways with show in August after Warner Bros. investigated the claims made by past employees. During her opening monologue, DeGeneres announced that her DJ, StephentWitch” Boss, is now her co-executive producer.

“There’s been a lot of learning, a lot of discussions a lot of listening,” Boss said. “You and I have had numerous discussions, and for me I’m just so excited to be back here in the studio so we can do what we do do best, which is bring laughter love and fun.”

“We have made the necessary changes and today we are starting a new chapter,” the host said to roaring applause.

DeGeneres also addressed the claims that she is not as kind as she appears on TV. She explained that she became known as the “‘be kind lady” after she began telling people to be kind to one another following the suicide of a teenage boy named Tyler Clementi who was bullied for being gay.

“I thought the world needed more kindness and it was a reminder that we all needed that. And I think we need it more than ever right now,” she said. “Being known as the ‘be kind lady’ is a tricky position to be in.”

She continued: “The truth is I am that person that you see on TV. I am also a lot of other things. Sometimes I get sad; I get mad; I get anxious; I get frustrated; I get impatient and I am working on all of that. I am a work in progress, and I am especially working on the impatience thing. And it’s not going well because it’s not going fast enough, I’ll tell you that.”

“This is me,” she said of her on-screen persona. “And my intention is to always be the best person I can be. And if I’ve ever let someone down, if I’ve ever hurt their feelings, I am so sorry for that. If that’s ever the case, I’ve let myself down and I’ve hurt myself, as well. Because I always try to grow as a person. I look at everything that comes into my life as an opportunity to learn.”

She went on to say that she hopes her show can be a source of happiness as the world goes through a difficult time.

“People are losing their jobs. People are losing loved ones to a pandemic. People are losing their homes and lives in raging fires that are going on. There’s blatant racial injustice all around us. I watch the news and I feel like, ‘Where do we even begin?” she said.

“So, my hope is that we can still be a place of happiness and joy,” she said. “I still want to be the one hour a day that people can go to escape to and laugh. I want to continue to help all the people that we help everyday. And I am committed to making this the best season that we have ever had.”

Read more about: