Ellen Pompeo has admitted that money is the reason why she has stuck with "Grey's Anatomy" for all these years.
The actress has played Meredith Grey on the medical drama series since it debuted in 2005 and she has signed on to Season 17. Many of her co-stars have departed the show over the years but Pompeo said on the "Jemele Hill is Unbothered" podcast that financial security is what is keeping her there.
"You know, I made choices to stay on the show. For me, personally, a healthy home life was more important than career," Pompeo said, via Vanity Fair. "I didn’t grow up with a particularly happy childhood. So to have a happy home life was really something I needed to complete, to close the hole in my heart."
The 50-year-old made a decision to "make money" rather than pursue more creative acting roles.
"That’s what, ultimately, I think, the hustler in me — I don't like chasing anything, ever," Pompeo said. "And acting to me, in my experience, was a lot of chasing. You've got to chase roles, you’ve got to beg for roles, you’ve got to convince people. And although I produce and it’s the same kind of thing, I think I still do it from a place of, I’m never that thirsty because I’m financially set."
The actress, who is the title character of "Grey's Anatomy," said she wanted to exit the show after learning that male co-star Patrick Demps was making more money than her, but she did not believe doing so would be a win for equality.
"I’m saying to myself, 'Wait a second, this is my face. Yes, other people created the show. Shonda Rhimes created the show, and we’d be nowhere without that. The studio made the show and put the show on the air," she explained.
"I’m not saying people don’t deserve what they have. I’m just saying, why should all these people make hundreds of millions of dollars off of this, which I’m the face of, and I not get wealthy too from it? So I just thought it didn’t make a lot of sense for me to walk away."
Age is another motivating factor for Pompeo to hang around on the show.
"I knew coming up on 40, it’s like, I don’t want to be out there chasing things, running after things, begging," she said.
"I’d rather just see this as the blessing that it is. It’s pretty common for actors to try to run away from stuff. They’re super well-known for something, and they have to get as far away from it as possible. That’s OK, I understand that completely, completely understand that. But at my age and where my life is, I’m not trying to run away from anything. It is who I am. I made my choices and I’m cool with it.”
In 2018, Pompeo became the highest-paid dramatic actress on TV after signing a $20 million-a-year contract for season 15 and 16 of "Grey's Anatomy." In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter at the time, she said she wanted to use the triumph as a way of letting other actresses know they can get equal pay with male actors in Hollywood.
"I’m 48 now, so I’ve finally gotten to the place where I’m OK asking for what I deserve, which is something that comes only with age," she told the outlet.
Pompeo said that in the past, the show’s dealmakers had tried to use Dempsey against her and that they had refused to pay her more than him even though he is not the show's title character. She called Dempsey’s leaving the show in 2015 a "defining moment" for her and said she "had a nice chuckle" about the show’s ratings spiking after he left.
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