In a rare sit-down interview, Ellen DeGeneres and her wife Portia de Rossi spoke with "Extra's" Terri Seymour on Saturday as they celebrated "Gorillapalooza," an event to help The Ellen Fund in its mission to support gorilla conservation efforts.
Ellen said the event sprang from a birthday gift! "Well, first of all, this is incredible that we’re actually to this point of having a fundraiser because it starts with just a tiny idea in [Portia's] head for a 60th birthday present for me to build a campus with my name."
Portia chimed in, saying, "I didn’t know what else to get her! I wanted to give her something really significant for her 60th birthday that kinda tied her past to her future... I remembered when we first met I asked her who her idol was or what she’d want to do with her life, and she said that she wanted to work with animals and her idol was Dian Fossey."
Fossey, an American conservationist, studied the mountain gorillas of Rwanda extensively from 1966 until her murder in 1985. The 1988 film "Gorillas in the Mist," starring Sigourney Weaver, tells her story. Portia's desire to tie Ellen's past to her future resonated with the words in Fossey's final journal entry, which read: "When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate on the preservation of the future."
Ellen explained why Dian’s efforts mean so much to her, saying, "I’m emotional just thinking about what she did, and the fact that she was killed for it is just heartbreaking for me, so I’m hoping that she is somewhere here with us and proud, and we’re keeping her name alive and going."
Ellen made another high-profile appearance this week, surprising everyone by showing up to honor Jennifer Aniston at Variety’s Power of Women luncheon. At the event, the TelePrompTer broke just before she was to introduce Aniston. Ellen said, “That worked out real well, didn’t it? That was smooth sailing." She laughed the whole thing off, saying of Jennifer, "She’s lovely and will be here tonight, and she’s a pal."
The interview ended with Ellen making a plea: "Now, everyone can go to The Ellen Fund and donate, if you’d like to, because every little bit counts."