Mariah Carey has described a 2008 interview in which Ellen DeGeneres repeatedly tried to pressure her into revealing that she was pregnant as an “extremely uncomfortable” experience.
In The Ellen Degeneres Show clip that recently resurfaced on Twitter, the talk show host is seen trying to coax Carey into confirming pregnancy rumours by getting her to drink champagne (the “joke” being that if she were pregnant, she would be reluctant to drink alcohol).
In the footage, Carey repeatedly tries to dodge DeGeneres’ request to drink, at one point even protesting: “this is peer pressure!”
Carey was in fact pregnant at the time with then-husband Nick Cannon’s baby, but she was reluctant to reveal it because the couple had previously suffered a miscarriage. The Vision of Love star went onto miscarry again shortly after her appearance on The Ellen Degeneres Show.
“I was extremely uncomfortable with that moment is all I can say,” Carey says now, reflecting on the appearance in a new interview with Vulture this week. “I really have had a hard time grappling with the aftermath. I wasn’t ready to tell anyone because I had had a miscarriage.”
The footage of Carey’s 2008 interview has resurfaced amid rumours of a toxic work environment on The Ellen DeGeneres Show – a legendary fixture on the Hollywood circuit – with employees accusing certain producers of racism and sexual harassment.
Last month, DeGeneres announced that three producers had been fired and apologised to staff as an internal investigation was launched into claims of bullying and intimidation on set.
Carey – who has appeared on the show five times since the pregnancy episode – touched on the scandal surrounding DeGeneres, saying: “I don’t want to throw anyone that’s already being thrown under any proverbial bus”. But she added, “I didn’t enjoy that moment”.
The singer goes onto say that there’s “an empathy that can be applied to those moments that I would have liked to have been implemented. But what am I supposed to do? It’s like, What are you going to do?”
A lot has changed in the dialogue around privacy and female objectification in the past 10 years, and the original footage of Carey’s 2008 interview with DeGeneres certainly makes distressing viewing by today’s standards.
Although it’s portrayed as something to be laughed at, there’s nothing remotely funny about Carey repeatedly trying to swerve DeGenere’s intrusive pregnancy questions (Carey begins by saying, “don’t discuss that”).
The champagne “joke” only makes the whole incident worse, as Carey at one point is seen pretending to drink from the glass just to allay DeGenere’s grilling (at which moment DeGeneres shouts triumphantly, “You are pregnant!”).
After suffering their miscarriages, Carey and Cannon went onto have twins, Moroccan and Monroe, in 2011.
“They have stability,” Carey says of her children now. “That’s what I didn’t have. They will never have a holiday that’s not happy unless something I can’t do anything about happens. They understand that they are Black. They have a whole lot of self-esteem and self-worth that I never had. And I probably still don’t now. I know that I still don’t.”
Carey’s Vulture interview comes ahead of the September release of her much-anticipated memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey.