Ellen Pompeo Got Real About Staying on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ for the Money

At 50, she's done chasing and begging for roles.

Grey’s Anatomy fans have gotten 16 seasons worth of drama, romance, and over-the-top storylines, and star Ellen Pompeo has gotten a very steady, very large paycheck. The woman behind Meredith Grey has been outspoken about finances in the past—particularly when it comes to the gender pay gap—and in a recent interview, she spoke out once again about sticking with Grey’s Anatomy for the money. 

“I made choices to stay on the show,” Pompeo said on the Jemele Hill Is Unbothered podcast. “For me, personally, a healthy home life is more important than career. I didn’t grow up with a particularly happy childhood, so to have a happy home life is really something I needed to complete to close the hole in my heart. So, I made the decision to make money and not chase creative acting roles.”

Pompeo has starred on Grey’s Anatomy since 2005, and in that time has only taken a couple other very small parts: a voice appearance on the children’s cartoon Doc McStuffins and a part in Taylor Swift’s video for the song “Bad Blood.” She has also appeared as Meredith Grey on the Grey’s spinoff Station 19 and works as a producer for both shows.

“I don’t like chasing anything ever. And acting, to me, in my experience, was a lot of chasing,” Pompeo said.

“You got to chase roles. You got to beg for roles. You got to convince people. And although I produce and it’s the same kind of a thing, I still do it from a place of I’m never that thirsty because I’m financially set,” she continued.

Pompeo, who is now 50, said that her age is behind her attitude when it comes to Grey’s, too. “I got in the game late,” she told Hill. She said that if she had started in the show in her 20s, then maybe she would have left after her six-year contract was up. But, she explained, “Coming up on 40, it’s like, I don’t want to be out there chasing things, running after things, begging. I’d rather just see this as the blessing that it is.”

She’s also grateful for the platform it’s given her, specifically when it comes to helping fight systemic racism in the healthcare industry. And, of course, she’s using her platform to be outspoken about money and women asking for what they deserve, too. As one of the highest-paid actresses in the world, she talked about the topic previously in a piece for The Hollywood Reporter in 2018 that also goes into her decision to stick with Grey’s. (“Not that I can’t do a cool cable thing, but I’m not going to have this whole second life as a movie star. I’m not fuckin’ Julia Roberts.”) Plus, she has been open about her former costar Patrick Dempsey making more than her in earlier seasons of Grey’s Anatomy.

Basically, Pompeo is always keeping it real, and Grey’s fans could be getting many more seasons of their favorite show.

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