Portia DeGeneres (nee De Rossi and formerly Amanda Lee Rogers)
Australian born actress Portia De Rossi has “come out” regarding her eating disorder and sexual identity confusion in an exclusive interview with the Australian Women’s Weekly magazine and as a guest on Oprah.
The legal marriage married on August 16, 2008 of television talk show sensation Ellen DeGeneres to actress Portia De Rossi was a low-key celebration with just a few family and friends present. Ellen, of course, is widely known as a former comedienne and now super-host of her own talk show. Portia De Rossi (who recently changed her name legally to DeGeneres) is probably best remembered as Nell Porter on popular US TV show Ally McBeal. She appeared in 89 episodes from 1998-2002. She also played Lindsay Bluth Fünke on the sitcom Arrested Development.
I have to admit, before I saw Ally McBeal, I had never heard of Portia De Rossi. I don’t recall seeing her on television or in movies in this country. However, her professional biography lists a few significant roles in Australian film and television. She featured in the movie Sirens, along with supermodel Elle MacPherson and A-listers Hugh Grant and Sam Neill. Another Australian movie credit is the role of Hilary Hunter in The Night We Called it a Day which starred the late Dennis Hopper playing Frank Sinatra.
Portia was born Amanda Lee Rogers in Horsham, Victoria, Australia – a small rural town much like some of the mid-west towns in the US. She spent most of her childhood living in Geelong (south west of Melbourne) and changed her name at age 15 to Portia De Rossi, stating in 2005 that she had intended to reinvent herself, using the given name of Portia, a character from William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, and an Italian last name.
A new life in the US where the troubled star eventually found happiness
Soon after completing her role in Sirens, she moved to the US to pursue her acting career. She was married to documentary filmmaker Mel Metcalfe, from 1996 to 1999, as part of a plan to get a green card, but says that “it just obviously wasn’t right” for her. On Good Morning America in 2010, she revealed that as a young actress she was worried about being exposed as gay. From 2000 to 2004, Portia dated singer Francesca Gregorini, daughter of actress Barbara Bach and stepchild of Ringo Starr. She said most of her family and Ally McBeal cast mates did not know she was a lesbian until tabloid pictures of the couple were published. She declined to publicly discuss the relationship or her sexual orientation at the time.
De Rossi and Gregorini broke up in late 2004 as de Rossi began dating talk show host and comedienne Ellen DeGeneres. The couple met backstage at an awards show. In 2005, she came out publicly about her sexual orientation in interviews with Details and The Advocate. Ellen DeGeneres proposed to her with a three-carat pink diamond ring and they were married on August 16, 2008 at their Beverly Hills home. Their mothers were among the 19 guests.
Portia’s anorexia battle
During four years of filming Ally McBeal, Portia admits struggling with the eating disorderanorexia nervosa. Her weight plummeted due to the shame she felt being a lesbian. She admitted in the exclusive interview with Women’s Weekly that she struggled with her sexual identity and eating disorders for many years.
“It took a long, long time for me to think I had a problem,” she said.
“I was around 90 pounds (40kg) and I remember feeling very afraid of food every night. I didn’t want to walk past pizza restaurants because that would make me remember what it was like to eat pizza, and I was truly afraid that I was going to be overcome with the urge to binge and that if I started bingeing then I just wouldn’t stop.”
In the tearful chat with Oprah, the Australia-born star reveals she once weighed just 37 kilograms (82 pounds).
“It wasn’t that I was proud of it, but it was certainly a recognition for my self-control,” she said.
“I definitely had some pretty amazing willpower to get down to 82 pounds. And that’s what I was holding onto.
“I didn’t think about anything else.”
The former University of Melbourne law student tells of her struggles and romance with Ellen DeGeneres in her new autobiography Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain.
Portia certainly seems happier and healthier these days and obviously her relationship with Ellen DeGeneres has been a positive life choice.
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