Ellen Pompeo slams sexist rumors that her salary increase led to the “Grey’s Anatomy” cast shakeup
Ellen Pompeo is now the highest-paid actress on dramatic television — but she is not here for rumors insinuating that her financial success is responsible for other women’s losses. The star took to Twitter yesterday to slam an article that implied two Grey’s Anatomy actresses’ exits from the show might be tied to her recent salary renegotiation.
“There were many times where I reached out about joining together to negotiate [with Patrick Dempsey], but he was never interested in that,” she wrote. “At one point, I asked for $5,000 more than him just on principle, because the show is Grey’s Anatomy and I’m Meredith Grey. They wouldn’t give it to me.”
Now the actress has found her voice and negotiated $575,000 per episode (with no small amount of support from Shonda Rhimes), and she’s now calling out rumors that her salary forced show-runners to fire two actresses.
On Thursday, March 8th, Deadline.com reported that two of Pompeo’s cast members, Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew, will depart the series at the end of Season 14. However, they phrased it in a way that seemed to imply Pompeo’s raise was somehow related to the news.
"The decision not to bring back Capshaw and Drew comes on the heels of the blockbuster new Pompeo pact that gave her a significant salary increase, paying her as much as $20 million a year," Deadline wrote.
Basically, while a connection between the two events wasn’t outright stated, it arguably made it feel like a connection exists. The notion that Pompeo is somehow responsible for Capshaw and Drew’s exits has been echoed by some angry fans who are upset by the cast shakeup and blame the headlining actress for not using her influence and salary to save them.
However, Pompeo is not here for it.
“It’s unfortunate that @DEADLINE chooses to try to pit women against each other on #InternationalWomensDay #shameonyounotme," Pompeo tweeted in response to the article. “I’m a big girl @DEADLINE can take shots at me if they want but to the fans please don’t fall into that trap. This is above my pay grade.
Showrunner Krista Vernoff also spoke out about the rumors, writing:
“The suggestion in the Deadline article that our cast changes are in any way related to Ellen Pompeo’s salary renegotiation is wrong and hurtful and misguided. It smacks of an old, broken, patriarchal notion that women must be pitted against each other and that one woman’s success will be costly to others. Ellen Pompeo has not only advocated passionately for her fellow cast members, she has taken the time to educate women worldwide as to how to advocate for themselves and that must not now be twisted. The decision to make changes to our cast was a creative one. The only thing as constant on Grey's Anatomy as Ellen Pompeo is our penchant for reinvention. It is a part of our success and what keeps the show exciting. We love these actresses and we love these characters and it felt true and right creatively to wrap up their stories. And that is the whole story.
Deadline has since updated its story, adding that “there is no such connection that we are aware of. Because this has become an issue, pitting women against each other on International Women’s Day, we are making it clear.”
The notion that one woman’s success must equate another’s downfall is tired at best, and actively harmful at worst. Not to mention, it’s hard to imagine the same speculation and blame circulating if a leading man asked for his due after 14 years.
While we’re sad to see two beloved characters go, we applaud Pompeo for standing up for herself on this one. Thanks for continuing to be a role model, lady.