Ellen Pompeo Candidly Reveals How She Fought for the Salary She Deserves

She's now TV's highest-paid actress.

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Ellen Pompeo—you might know her as Dr. Meredith Grey—just accepted a huge pay raise for Shonda Rhimes' hit TV drama, Grey's Anatomy. But more importantly, she's decided to open up about her behind-the scenes fight to get "what [she] deserves" when it comes to her salary, with hopes of empowering other women in Hollywood to do the same.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Pompeo said, "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. Because I'm not the most 'relevant' actress out there."

Pompeo originally refused to audition for the show, recalling that she was supposed to be a movie actress and was "not going to be stuck on a medical show for five years." Flash forward 14 years and she's still working in the TV medical field.

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"But the truth is, anybody can be good on a show season one and two. Can you be good 14 years later? Now, that's a f*ckin' skill," she said.

Rhimes was in full support of Pompeo's negotiations for more money. Her advice to Pompeo: "Decide what you think you're worth and then ask for what you think you're worth. Nobody's just going to give it to you."


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And Pompeo did just that. Her new contract has her earning more than $20 million a year, which is about $575,000 per episode—this will make her dramatic television's highest-earning actress. Along with negotiating her salary, Pompeo has signed on to play Meredith Grey for another two seasons. Rhimes has said that "the show will go on as long as Ellen wants to do it."

Pompeo recounts her meetings with other Hollywood actresses about how they can affect the Time's Up movement. "We've been sharing stories and trying to figure out how we can promote change and use our voices to help other people," she said.

"I've chosen to financially empower myself so that I never have to be ducking predators and chasing trophies."

Alex Warner

I’m currently working at Dotdash Meredith as the Celeb & Entertainment E-Commerce Lead contributing affiliate content for People.com and InStyle.com. I’m basically like your personal shopper, from writing about that cozy loungewear set you didn’t know you needed to keeping tabs on the best sales and deals on the internet. I’m also a pro at finding affordable dupes for celebrity looks and I love to dig into the data to strategize content opportunities.