April 27 (UPI) — Ellen DeGeneres is celebrating the 20th anniversary of her “Ellen” coming out episode.
The 59-year-old television personality reflected on the historic TV moment with Oprah Winfrey and Laura Dern, who co-starred on the episode, in a preview for Friday’s edition of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
“At the time, it was so controversial,” she recalled in the clip. “Which is why I thought this was important to celebrate the anniversary and to remember what it was like back then and to appreciate how far we’ve come.”
DeGeneres became the first-ever gay or lesbian lead on television when her character, Ellen Morgan, came out to love interest Susan (Dern) on “The Puppy Episode,” which aired April 30, 1997. She came out in real life on the April 14 cover of TIME magazine.
“Your whole calling is about being who you were meant to be … You wouldn’t have been able to open hearts and touch hearts and change people’s minds and make a difference in the world had you not had the courage to do that,” Winfrey, who played Ellen’s therapist, told DeGeneres.
“There’s no greater gift than being the person that was with you and looking in your eyes as you said those words,” Dern added. “Watching you have this catharsis and the audience support, literally holding each other up during this very emotional moment, it was so profound.”
“Ellen” had a five-season run on ABC from 1994 to 1998. DeGeneres has since starred on the CBS sitcom “The Ellen Show,” and started hosting “The Ellen DeGeneres” talk show in 2003.
“I can’t wait for you to see this on Friday. It might be my favorite episode ever. What a difference 20 years makes,” she tweeted to her 67.1 million Twitter followers.