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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s tech companies have been bringing in some pretty big names for their annual conferences.
Not to be outdone, Pluralsight invited activist Malala Yousafzai last year and this year welcomes talk show host Ellen DeGeneres at Pluralsight Live, an annual conference for company customers in August.
DeGeneres is a comedian and host of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," a talk show that’s been in syndication since 2003 and was recently renewed for three more seasons.
But DeGeneres’ rise to stardom wasn’t smooth sailing. The now 61-year-old dropped out of college and performed a number of odd jobs before she put together a comedy routine for a group of friends and began to perform throughout the comedy circuit in the late 1970s.
She was named Funniest Person of the Year in 1982, but her career really took off after she was invited to perform on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" a few years later. After her performance, Carson motioned for her to come sit down and talk to him. It was the first time a female comedian had been invited to do so.
After her appearance on the show, her comedic stardom grew quickly. She continued appearing on television stand-up comedy routines and shows, the most notable of which was called “These Friends of Mine.” The show eventually changed its name to “Ellen” and was a critical success, winning several awards.
When DeGeneres revealed that she was gay in 1997, “Ellen” became the first prime-time show to feature an openly gay lead character. The show ended just a year later.
She began “The Ellen Degeneres Show” in 2003, and it’s been in syndication ever since. She’s also conceptualized and produced several other popular shows, including “Ellen’s Design Challenge, “Little Big Shots” with Steve Harvey and “Ellen’s Game of Games.”
She’s emceed the Academy Awards twice, in 2007 and 2014, and has also appeared in several film productions, most notably as the forgetful blue fish Dory in Pixar’s “Finding Nemo” and its sequel “Finding Dory.”
She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016 by President Barack Obama.
Joining DeGeneres onstage will be star of the TV show “Mythbusters,” Adam Savage, professional adventure rock climber Alex Honnold, and Google’s vice president of global partnerships, Bonita Stewart.
Pluralsight Live begins Aug. 27 and lasts through Aug. 29. Individual passes cost $1,099.