When Ellen DeGeneres takes to the Oscars' stage this Sunday, it will mark the second time the 56-year-old comedian has hosted the film industry's biggest event. In a new interview with People, however, DeGeneres admits that Hollywood was not her first career choice. For a long time, she says, she was planning on becoming a veterinarian.

"The compassion I have for animals comes from my earliest memories," the long-time vegan and animal welfare advocate revealed. "The first bird I saved was a mockingbird when I was around 7 years. It had fallen out of its nest, and I took it home and it grew up to be a full, grown-up mockingbird. I took it back to that same tree and released it." 

DeGeneres added that after her show "Ellen" was canceled in 1997, it was yet again a bird in need that helped lift her spirits. 

"When I was at a low after the show was canceled, there was a hummingbird in a fountain that was almost dead. I just put my hand in to take it out, and saw it was alive. So I held it to the sun, and it started drying its wings. Then it flew straight up. It was like a metaphor. It had been one of those days for me. Just when you think you should give up, there's a hand that comes and gets you and goes, 'Nope, you're going to be OK.'"

Check out DeGeneres hosting the 86th Academy Awards this Sunday at 7 p.m. EST.

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