From Ellen to Oprah, thanks to a S'porean
IN AN episode of The Ellen Show last month, American comedienne Ellen DeGeneres presented a sequinned portrait of fellow talk-show host Oprah Winfrey in honour of the latter's 60th birthday.
"I spent a lot of time on it. Pretty. Each one hand-done. Took me months to do that thing," said DeGeneres jokingly in the Jan 28 episode, which can be viewed on YouTube.
But the portrait was, in fact, the handiwork of a Singaporean artist and former Singapore Idol contestant, who had sent it to DeGeneres. She did not get credited on the show.
All that was to happen later. But before that, the strange story was to take some turns.
It all began in 2010, when local singer-songwriter Gayle Nerva, the Singapore Idol 2 alumnus, decided to make sequinned portraits of DeGeneres and Winfrey for their birthdays.
It took her almost two months of "working non-stop" while she was still attending school to complete both, Nerva told MyPaper.
In a post on her Instagram account on Jan 29, where she uploaded a photo collage showing the process of making the portraits, she added: "My mom thought I was mad."
Nerva, who attended the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts here, eventually shipped both portraits off to The Ellen Show's studios in Burbank, California.
"It cost me $1,200 to ship both pieces, as I had them both framed and they were really heavy," she recalled, adding that she saved up the money from a part-time hosting job.
For almost four years, she heard nothing about the portraits she had sent. Then, suddenly, one was presented publicly by DeGeneres to Winfrey.
Nerva said she was "ecstatic just to see my work on her show... but I thought she'd mention that someone from Singapore had made them".
She added: "I gave Ellen those works as a gift, so by right they belong to her and she can do whatever she wants with them."
The 25-year-old, who is working as a host and singer, left comments on the show's YouTube channel, alerting producers to the fact that she had made the art works. Several friends and family members also left comments on the channel, as well as the show's Facebook page.
DeGeneres eventually thanked her for the portraits via a post two weeks ago on the show's Instagram account, which garnered almost 107,000 likes.
"I'd like to thank the very talented @gaylenerva who made this sequined portrait for @Oprah. She also made one for me! I haven't seen so many sequins since my days as a Solid Gold dancer," said DeGeneres.
Nerva later said on her Instagram account: "Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah are my idols and I respect them for all the hard work they've put in to get what they want.
"I am truly grateful to Ellen for featuring my works on her show and for crediting me in her Instagram post."