Ellen DeGeneres might be one of the most well-known faces in the U.S., but it wasn’t enough to get her past White House security, as the comedian was barred from entering the Executive Mansion on Nov. 22 to receive her Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“They haven’t let me in to the White House yet because I forgot my ID,” the comedian and talk show host tweeted that day, along with the hashtag #NotJoking.
DeGeneres waited outside for roughly an hour while the proceedings began, but President Barack Obama’s security finally allowed her inside just in time to do a self-explanatory “mannequin challenge” with some of the other honored guests.
DeGeneres is one of 27 recipients, along with celebrities like Robert De Niro, Robert Redford, Lorne Michaels, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Diana Ross and Bruce Springsteen to receive the prestigious medal, which will be the last ones bestowed by Obama as he completes his presidency.
“The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation’s highest civilian honor — it’s a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better,” Obama said in an official White House press release. “From scientists, philanthropists, and public servants to activists, athletes, and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way.”
In the statement, the White House lauded DeGeneres for her award-winning work in comedy, voice acting in animated movies “Finding Nemo” and “Finding Dory” and hosting the Academy Awards. The president also praised her for bringing her “trademarked humor, humility, and optimism” to her daytime talk show, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” which she has hosted since 2003.
“In 1997, after coming out herself, DeGeneres made TV history when her character on Ellen revealed she was a lesbian,” the statement says, referring to DeGeneres’ eponymous sitcom. “In her work and in her life, she has been a passionate advocate for equality and fairness.”
Sources: Ellen DeGeneres/Twitter (2), The White House / Photo credit: Ellen DeGeneres/Twitter