An emotional Ellen DeGeneres teared up as she was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday.
The 55-year-old comedian was honoured for her help in advocating for LGBT rights and was presented the award alongside fellow recipients including Robert Redford, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jordan, Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks, Diana Ross and Bill and Melinda Gates.
In speaking about the talk show host at the event President Barack Obama said that Ellen has for decades risked her career to “challenge our own assumptions”.
"It's easy to forget now — when we've come so far, where now marriage is equal under the law — just how much courage was required for Ellen to come out on the most public of stages almost 20 years ago," Obama explained. "Just how important it was not just for the LGBT community, but for all of us to see somebody so full of kindness and light. Somebody we liked so much, somebody who could be our neighbour or our colleague or our sister challenge our own assumptions. Remind us that we have more in common than we realise, push our country in the direction of justice. What an incredible burden it was to bear, to risk your career like that. People don't do that often."
As Obama put the medal around DeGeneres’ neck, an MC said the Finding Dory star “has shown us that a single individual can make the world a more fun, more open, more loving place so long as we just keep swimming.”
VIDEO: Ellen receives Medal of Freedom