10 of Ellen DeGeneres’s Most Brilliant Moments

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Yesterday, Ellen DeGeneres announced on Twitter that she would be hosting the 2013 Oscar ceremony. While everyone’s first thought might have been “thank goodness it’s not Seth MacFarlane,” their second thought was probably “don’t you love Ellen?” Well, it’s hard not to, considering all the awesome she tends to bring to the table. So to get you psyched for the show, page through some of DeGeneres’s most brilliant public moments, from the serious to the silly (because hey, both can be brilliant). Check them out after the jump, and be sure to add any of your favorites that might be missing here in the comments.

Ellen Comes Out on Oprah

While nowadays the notion of a celebrity publicly coming out is one we’re all familiar with, Ellen paved the way, publicly coming out in 1997 and becoming the first openly gay woman to have her own sitcom. It wasn’t easy for her — Oprah received hate mail, and after Ellen was cancelled, Ellen couldn’t find work for years afterward — but she also reports getting letter after letter from young people who found her strength inspirational. She probably gets even more now.

Ellen Comes Out on Ellen

Ah, “The Puppy Episode.” Shortly after Ellen came out herself, her character came out too, in a not only groundbreaking but widely watched and highly-rated episode of Ellen. In response, ABC placed a parental advisory before future episodes of the show (shh, lesbians inside), which lasted for another season before it was cancelled.

That Time She Got Barack Obama to Dance

Not to mention all her other dancing, which usually tends to make her seem like the most charming person on the face of the planet.

That Time She Made the Lives of These Two Little Girls

You can always count on Ellen to bring true joy to the world — whether you’re one of these little girls or just watching it on YouTube.

Ellen’s Letter to the Supreme Court About Same-Sex Marriage

Earlier this year, DeGeneres penned an open letter to the Supreme Court that managed to be both smart, heartfelt and (what else can you expect?) kind of hilarious. “Portia and I have been married for 4 years and they have been the happiest of my life. And in those 4 years, I don’t think we hurt anyone else’s marriage. I asked all of my neighbors and they say they’re fine. … In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “We’re here, we’re queer, get over it.” And there’s another famous quote that says “A society is judged by how it treats its weakest members.” I couldn’t agree with that more. No one’s really sure who said it first, so if anyone asks, tell them I said it.” Read the whole thing here.

Ellen’s Animal Rights Activism

Okay, so it’s not a moment per se, but a list like this would be incomplete without a mention that, in addition to being an advocate for gay rights and human rights, Ellen is also committed to the rights of our furriest friends, consistently bringing speakers onto her show and living a vegan lifestyle. She won PETA’s Woman of the Year in 2009.

Ellen Scares Taylor Swift (Again)

Two things are true: Ellen loves to scare people and almost every interaction Ellen has with Taylor Swift is hilarious. So her repeated scares of Taylor Swift? Major highlight of The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Ellen’s 2009 Commencement Address at Tulane University

In this heartfelt and endlessly self-deprecating speech, Ellen warns students not to listen to advice, gives them advice, makes them laugh, and tells them her personal story of being sidelined because of who she was — and overcoming it. That’s something every graduating senior (or anyone) could do to hear.

Ellen’s ‘Kindness Week’

This winter, Ellen hosted her first ever Kindness Week on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Sure, ‘kindness week’ is a little bit corny, but you know what? We could all use a little more, and Ellen’s genuine, earnest, plain old kindness is continually refreshing.

Ellen’s Many Epic Halloween Costumes

Especially this one.