The true story behind the Ellen Oscars selfie.

Hollywood is, at its core, very nostalgic. 

At any given moment there is something to celebrate, reflect on or simply remind us that not all things age very well. 

Whether it was a crowning moment (like the first woman of colour to win an Oscar) or something we'd really rather forget (ahem Will Smith's Oscars stage rush), all of them make up the fabric that is Showbiz, baby.

And then there are the moments that lie in the zeitgeist as perfectly capturing a moment in time. This year we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of Ellen DeGeneres' internet-shattering Oscars selfie.

It's hard to believe it's almost been a decade since the former television host gathered her high-profile celeb buddies to snap one of the most famous selfies of all time. 

In a brilliant broadcast moment that humanised big-name A-listers (they're just like us!), Ellen pulled out her phone, corralled audience members, hit a button and sent a picture into the ether.

The result? 

A casual two million likes and almost three million shares since it was first posted to Ellen's Twitter (now known as X) with the caption: "If only Bradley's arm was longer. Best photo ever. #oscars"


But a decade later you may (or may not) be surprised to learn that this brilliant moment of publicity for the Oscars wasn't as organic as it once appeared.

In 2014, Fred Graver was the Creative Director of Media Partnerships at Twitter. His team had a close relationship with DeGeneres and her team, as well as Oscars producers. 

In the months leading up to the broadcast, Graver and DeGeneres workshopped a bunch of ideas that might hit big on the Twittersphere — one was for the host to take a selfie on-stage or go into the crowd and take one with Meryl Streep.

At this Oscars, in particular, Samsung had paid big money to be a sponsor. Some representatives from the electronics were at DeGeneres' rehearsal and approached her and the Twitter team to see if she would be willing to take the photo on one of their phones.


DeGeneres agreed to part ways with her iPhone for the evening and picked up a new Samsung phone which she chose from a tray of options sent to her dressing room.

On the big night, everything was set in place as show producers, the Twitter team and Samsung all held their breath — would the stunt work? In the first instance, DeGeneres turned to the audience from her place on stage to take a selfie of the entire audience. It was a cute moment that garnered some traction on Twitter with a few thousand retweets. 

Then came the moment. 

DeGeneres made her way down to take a selfie with Meryl Streep — the pic that everyone was hedging their bets on. But boy oh boy did it deliver so much more than they bargained for.

As DeGeneres cosied up to Streep, she was (genuinely) overcome, as a bunch of celebs flocked to jump in the picture with her. This was not what she rehearsed.

In rolled Jennifer Lawrence, then Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Lupita Nyong’o, Julia Roberts, Jared Leto and Kevin Spacey.


Then as DeGeneres tried to herd some of the biggest names in Hollywood, Bradley Cooper — a knight in shining selfie armour — offered up his long arm to snap the picture.

Once posted to DeGeneres' Twitter account, the selfie racked up 750,000 retweets in 45 minutes, delighting Twitter, Samsung and the public in one fell swoop. Samsung took a hefty chunk of revenue thanks to the stunt and. in turn .they donated a large sum to DeGeneres' chosen charities. See, corporate greed isn't all that bad!

With this year's Academy Awards broadcast just around the corner, producers and sponsors alike are no doubt scrambling to try and cook up some gold akin to DeGeneres' 2014 selfie. 

We'll be waiting to see if they pull off another stroke of genius.

Feature Image: Twitter, Ellen De Generes.

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