Comedian Ellen DeGeneres says coming out gay was the greatest thing that ever happened to her.

The 54-year-old host of the syndicated talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show made the comment during a video profile.

In 1997, DeGeneres came out gay on the cover of Time magazine and so did the character she played on her ABC sitcom Ellen.

“I was really successful, but I was really just playing a part,” DeGeneres said. “And then I'd go home and I'd let a little bit of me out, you know, and have a girlfriend. But the other part of the life was just trying to please everybody else. 'Cause God forbid they find out who I really am.”

“I just was carrying around this sadness inside and the shame of the fact that I was gay. When I was like, 'Why am I ashamed of who I am?'”

“My manager at the time said, 'Well if you're going to come out, why don't we make it really interesting. Why doesn't your character come out.' And it was the greatest thing that ever happened to me.” (The video is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)

DeGeneres married actress Portia de Rossi in 2008.